Odyssey Fitness part-owner Rachel Dyer gets her hands dirty with renovations at the fitness club.

Changes afoot for fitness spot

Fitness facility undergoing renovation for expansion

Odyssey Fitness is a common sight in downtown Sooke and has been for over a decade. Soon, it will be an even bigger sight as it is set to double in size by the new year.

The doctor’s clinic next door is in the process of moving to Evergreen Centre across the street, and Odyssey is absorbing the space to expand current services as well as bring back fitness classes in a new group fitness room downstairs, said part-owner Rachel Dyer.

“There will be some type of aerobic class and then we’re going to do some speciality classes like kettlebell classes. We want to have zumba (latin-inspired dance fitness) because zumba’s all the rage these days,” said Dyer.

Also introduced will be spinning, and small group personal training that she said will be more cost effective for members that want to work with a trainer but can’t afford to do it one on one.

“We did the classes years and years and years ago, way before my time when Geoff and Faye were still based out here.”

Geoff Del Grande originally started the fitness club in Sooke about 14 years ago. Currently based in Ontario, Del Grande lived here for 10 years where he got his start in the business.

“Sooke is the first club we started with, it’s actually how we learned how to do everything correctly in the fitness industry,” he said.

Originally opening above Royal Bank on Sooke Road, it quickly moved to its current location across the street when the opportunity presented itself just months later.

“The landlord there was really supportive and we told him about our dream and what we thought we could do. And he bought into it as well and said OK, come on over.” There is now another location in Victoria, and two more in Orangeville, Ontario under the name Access Fitness — the Odyssey name was already taken.

Del Grande called Sooke “a very proactive community.” The day of the move, 30 people showed up to help.

“It was like a barn raising, we had moved the whole club across the street into that location and painted it in under a day and a half. It was amazing.” A native Ontarian, Del Grande moved back east for family reasons and is not discounting a possible return to B.C. in the future. In the meantime, he has left the day-to-day operations of the Sooke Branch to Dyer who is excited about what’s in store, like the possible addition of a juice bar upstairs.

Other improvements: new men’s and women’s change rooms that will feature two toilets and showers in each, relocated private tanning bed rooms, updated cardio equipment, a larger pro shop, and just more overall breathing room.

“(We’re) just making things more comfortable and creating more space for people,” she said. The club is remaining open during the renovation work, most of which was contracted out. But staff, including Dyer, have been pitching in where they can, like painting the walls.

“We’re hoping to have everything finished by the end of December and a grand re-opening in January.”