Small Business Feature: Oxygen Yoga & Fitness!
Recently, the GIFTforward team sat down and chatted with Ronit, the Co-Owner of Oxygen Yoga & Fitness at Yonge & St. Clair, a location which she recently opened with her husband Daniel in November 2019. Oxygen Yoga & Fitness (OY&F) is a Canadian franchise, with over 70 locations across the nation. OY&F is known as Canada’s original far infrared hot yoga and fitness studio. The studio offers a range of classes from “Deep Stretch Candlelight Relaxation” to “Yoga Freedom Flow” to “Power Fusion” to “Boxing”. Every class offered is multilevel so everybody can feel great and welcome to join.
Hi Ronit! We’re so glad to have your franchise of OYF on the GIFTforward platform. What’s your story and how did you get involved with OYF?
I was born and raised in Mexico City and moved to Canada in 1995. Originally, I immigrated to complete my PhD at the University of Toronto (UofT) in Molecular Genetics, Molecular Biology and Embryology. For many years I was incredibly engaged in the field and worked for many institutions associated with UofT which included SickKids, Mount Sinai, and the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. However, about two years ago, the funding for the lab I worked at simply ran out and I was faced with two options: to continue as a Research Associate in the field or to start something on my own and switch careers. I opted for the latter.
My first venture was Sciart Prints (@Sciartprints), a start-up that merged my scientific background with my love for art. For years I had viewed beautiful organisms and cells under a fluorescent microscope and wanted to share those gorgeous images with the world. As I spent more and more time sitting down to design and draw, I wanted to get moving again, and went to the OY&F near my house with my husband. We immediately fell in love with the classes and felt a positive change in both our bodies and attitudes—this was not your typical yoga and fitness studio.
Once we learned that franchising was an option, the Yonge & St. Clair community in Toronto seemed like the perfect spot to place our studio. After renovating the space for many months and paying attention to all the minute details, we opened in November 2019. We are excited to re-open once we’re allowed to!
It’s so amazing to hear of your journey to OYF today. You mentioned that you’re excited to re-open—what are some adjustments you’ve made to your studio in anticipation of opening?
We’ve prepared lots! As soon as you enter the facilities, there will be mandatory hand sanitizing stations. We also will be reducing our capacity to 50% and classes will be cut in half to maintain the 2-metre (6 feet) physical distancing guidelines. We’ve placed stickers to indicate where yoga mats should be placed to help guide our members. It’s always been important to us to constantly disinfect, but we’re even more diligent about it now. The studio will look a little different, but the welcoming community feeling will be the same.
What has been the toughest moment for you since the lockdown?
It was extremely difficult to close our doors to our members who’ve become part of this inclusive community at the Yonge & St. Clair OY&F. It’s been tough on us, but we are staying optimistic and confident. Before anyone reached out, we made sure to waive everyone’s membership fees for the lockdown period and we extended all class passes as well. We’re a community that supports one another, especially during this hard time.
It sounds like OYF is a wonderful community. Reflecting back, is there a heartwarming interaction you’ve had with a customer?
I’ve had so many! Even though we haven’t been open for very long, I’ve watched the community grow. Some members and I can talk for hours and it’s incredible to see their journey. For instance, I have a 66-year old member who is a stroke survivor, and prior to the lockdown, she came to OY&F every day. I would get to know her progress and it was lovely to interact with her. We also have a lovely lunch crowd that came by almost every day. Some of those members have now informally joined the ‘100 class club’! I find it so impressive that they’ve completed this milestone despite only being open since November.
Is there anything you’d like your customers to know?
We’ve been working very hard with the other Toronto OY&F locations to have online workout sessions and some workshops so please check them out on our collective Instagram page @oxygenyogagta. It’s been over 12 weeks since we started posting these workouts and we plan to continue. Even when the lockdown is over, please look out for full online classes in the near future! You can always check out @oxygenyonge_stclair to learn more.
Thanks so much for your time Ronit and best of luck with everything!