Kickboxer comes home, opens downtown fitness studio

Alan Lachapelle at his new Epic Fitness Studio in downtown Sarnia. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Alan Lachapelle couldn’t believe his good luck when he saw the new co-working space at 140 Christina St. that became his fitness studio.

“I left Sarnia in 1988 and never could have imagined owning a fitness studio in downtown Sarnia,” says Lachapelle. “At that time, the city’s commercial growth was to the east and, besides, I had a friend here teaching martial arts and there wasn’t enough of a market for more.”

Instead, he opened a gym in Cambridge and operated there for 30 years, focusing on kickboxing.

But earlier this year, Lachapelle – now semi retired – and his family decided to return to Sarnia. He wanted to open a small studio but balked when it was suggested he lease space in the former Taylor’s Furniture building.

“I was expecting old and dilapidated. Instead, I found a huge, bright place that was completely redone with lots of natural light.

“It was exactly what I was looking for,” he said.

The third story of 140 Christina St. was recently gutted and converted into multiple commercial units with shared washrooms, a change room and waiting area.  The shared concept keeps rent costs down and makes a downtown location more appealing.

Epic Fitness Studio opened in mid-October in a 1,000-square-foot space with 12-foot ceilings. Lachapelle is a former top amateur lightweight kickboxer who had a dozen fights before he broke his foot in construction and had to retire. His career has focused on teaching kickboxing skills to increase overall fitness.

“Kickboxing involves strength training using bands for a total body workout. There’s a cardio component too,” he explained.

Epic Fitness Studio teaches punching and kicking techniques against a bag, and strengthening exercises using large and small elasticized bands. Classes focus on fitness routines and proper kicking technique.

“It’s a great way to get fit because you’re constantly moving and, frankly, it’s fun,” said Lachapelle.

After six weeks, about 90% of his clientele is women between the ages of 35 and 65.

“You’d think guys would be into kicking and punching too,” he laughed. “I’ve just got to get the word out there.”

Epic Fitness offers classes six days a week and is closed Sunday. Registration is online at www.epicfitnessstudio.com.  Call 519-330-3879.

One month’s registration with as many classes as you’d like costs $96. Lachapelle limits class size to 16.

NEW CHEF AT GARDEN TEA HOUSE

Christine Heffer is the new manager and chef at DeGroot’s Teahouse on London Line.

The restaurant is in an historic farmhouse (circa 1906) behind DeGroot’s Nurseries and has a new menu with lots of homemade comfort food, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options, says Heffer.

Heffer was formerly an employee of Olive’s Casual Cuisine and operated her own café and bakery in Petrolia until recently. DeGroot’s Teahouse now offers many of Heffer’s signature desserts.

Got a great idea for the Business Journal?  Contact cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or call 226-932-0985.