URBAN ATHLETE – Where Members are Friends, not Numbers

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By Carla Grundison

Urban Athlete is a locally-owned, one-of-a-kind fitness studio in Kensington. The goal is to help people ‘reach their fitness goals in a welcoming, community focused and supportive environment’ says Kohl Kehler, of the gym he co-owns with Karly Renman. Having previously owned contracting and painting businesses together, the two have found that Urban Athlete aligns well with their lifelong passion for fitness. Although smaller in square footage than some gyms, don’t be deceived by its size. It packs in enough high-end equipment, stellar fitness classes, as well as talented trainers and instructors – yet somehow maintains an atmosphere that never feels overcrowded. Kohl finds the most satisfaction comes from ‘seeing someone new to the gym get started and really enjoy themselves and the atmosphere.’

When one can sometimes feel anonymous going about their day, it’s refreshing to step into Urban Athlete and be greeted warmly. The friendly environment makes one feel instantly comfortable as you work on your fitness goals Creating this welcoming space starts at the top, with owners keen to build a team of staff, trainers and instructors who share the same values and vision.

Kohl says: ‘We like to focus on the individual and how we can help them. In the big box gyms and franchises, customers are often treated as a number but here we really want to get to know our members names and stories.’ Listening to hundreds of members and others in the community over the years has clearly shaped an ownership team with a great intuitive sense of what works. Respect for others, doing what you’ll say you’ll do, open communication, and a growth mindset – are several key factors that have contributed to their success.

Reflecting on the pandemic, Kohl shares how honoured they’ve felt to be such a valued part of their members’ lives: ‘It’s been so humbling to get so much support from our community here at the gym.’ Comments from members are a testament to what they’ve created: ‘it’s been really energizing to hear members say they wouldn’t know what they would have done if not for the gym during covid.’ ‘Our members and their willingness to pivot with everything we had to do in the past 18 months is what kept us going.’ Kohl and Karly help each other stay positive, as well. They choose to direct any frustrations they might have into something productive for the business, and put energy into things they can change rather than wasting time complaining about things outside of their control.

What about outside of the gym – how do they keep a work-life balance? While the pandemic offered little opportunity for the traveling that they both enjoy, they found truth in the adage ‘when one door closes, another opens’ as they discovered the benefit of simply unplugging and going camping – out of cell-service and wifi range: ‘that time in nature really helps recharge the batteries.’ If you’ve driven up 14th Street in the northwest in recent years, you’ve likely driven by Urban Athlete – which is only a few months shy of its ninth birthday.

Now you have a better sense of what and who is inside.

Urban Athlete – https://urbanathletecalgary.com/

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