THUNDER BAY -- A run-of-the-mill large fitness environment, one consisting of flashy lights, dark colors, loud music might not be a suitable match for everyone. Maybe a smaller simple space that makes you feel safe and comfortable is the environment that gets your heart pumping. For a local Northwestern Ontario woman raised in Thunder Bay, Amy Slemko, owning a gym that provides a safe space to workout in was the dream; up until two weeks ago when she turned that dream into reality, with her gym, Intrinsic fitness and lifestyle. The kinesiology graduate and personal trainer turned entrepreneur created an open gym, located below a trendy tattoo parlor, making it the first of its kind in the Current River area.
Rejection: a mere misdirection
A rejection from a chiropractor and a broke student lifestyle redirected her towards a personal trainer’s path. Having believed that the personal trainer is the bottom of the pile for a kinesiology student, Amy’s dreams of being a chiropractor and a doctor were crushed after the rejection. But a realization that training is what made her happy, Amy set out to follow her dream of setting up her own gym. “All the time I’m used to hearing there’s no money here, you shouldn’t do it! You cannot go in yourself; do you know how much work there is? I’m sure they won’t say these to a guy,” Amy says. She turned an abandoned 20-year-old RBC dungeon into a fully equipped gym in a matter of two months, the fastest ever transformation here in Thunder Bay. “I just wanted to prove to all the naysayers that anything is possible, and I’ve made a lot of money in just two weeks,” she beams with pride.
When asked what inspired her to turn the dreams into reality, Amy says, “I just decided to jump in the ocean. When my friend, Vanessa, who runs the tattoo parlour above showed me the place, I just instantly said yes. I didn’t want to sleep on it because having been locked out of a job for a year because of the pandemic, I thought how much more broke could I get? Everything can be taken away, so I just jumped!” she says.
Amy runs the gym as the one-woman army; trainer, janitor, dog mom all in one! With more than 70 members in just two weeks, Amy has created a comfortable space for her trustworthy clients. Having a safe comfortable space for anyone to work, no matter the fitness level is her topmost priority. “My priority is to make everyone comfortable using the free weights, free of any judgement. People come here because they like the inclusion and small space. It doesn’t make them feel intimidated. The average Joe should feel confident, that’s my motto for the gym. I screen everyone who comes here, and I have turned down people because I thought they were bringing aggressiveness to the gym here,” she says.
When asked about the women only space, she says, “I had that plan, but I realized it doesn’t always work out. The outlook on fitness and strength training is changing, and women feel confident when they lift weights in front of women, and that is the way I would like to keep going,” Slemko adds. A second location, more central or on the south side could be in the making for this local woman. Aside from that, for those unable to drive to the gym, she is developing personal training in the pocket: an intrinsic app for purchase that provides daily tasks and how to videos, for those just getting started.
For Amy Slemko, the best prize is seeing people that leave the gym happy.