By Jeremy Appel
Bow Island’s Stretch Fitness Centre isn’t your typical gym.
Three years ago, it was converted from a bar, the Bow Island Tavern, transforming the building from a place where one of the least healthy activities takes place to a fitness centre.
“We’re reversing people’s health,” said Lisa Neustaeter, who co-owns the gym with her husband, Jake.
They’ve lived together in Bow Island for more than a decade.
“It just kind of fell into our lap. (The bar) had been empty for a year-and-a-half.”
They decided to start from scratch after turning down an offer to buy another gym, where the equipment was worn out and no longer under warranty.
It was Jake’s idea to transform the bar into a gym, according to Lisa.
“We had to pretty much gut the whole inside and put in more windows, because obviously bars only have the tiny windows up high and metal doors,” she said.
“We have a hallway with three different offices that we rent out. That was re-framed. We just gave it a whole new look from the inside out.”
The gym is fully functional, with the wide array of machines one would expect, but it doesn’t offer many classes.
“We’ve been trying different things, but with it being a small community, it’s really hard to get enough people to commit to run different classes,” Lisa said.
However, they have been able to maintain interest in a yoga class for more than a year.
Stretch offers four different durations of membership — one month, three months, six months and a year.
“We also do offer a couple packages and for members of the age of 18, they get 24-hour access,” she said. “That’s convenient for a lot of people working odd hours or nights.
“It gives them the chance to use the facility whenever it works best for them.”
The bar was a dive, so the Neustaeters didn’t maintain anything to remind patrons that the building used to be a bar.
“It was so very gross and there was just nothing worth keeping,” Lisa said. “It would’ve been nice to keep something just to remind people.”