For Christine and Marc Steiniger, husband and wife co-owners of The Sweat Box Fitness Studio in Kitchener, their fitness journeys took very different paths.
"I was a long distance runner," says Christine. "People were always asking me to help them learn how to run, so I would teach them. Then I started helping them build exercise programs." Eventually Christine decided to turn her coaching into a business; after completing the required certifications she became a personal trainer and in 2016 started her business Body By Chris.
Marc's journey wasn't as direct. "I spent 20 years in tech," explains Marc. "Think of an active and healthy lifestyle - that wasn't me." By age 40 Marc weighed 250 pounds: he wasn't exercising, was eating poorly, and wasn't managing the stress of his tech job very well. He knew he had to make a change and began exercising, eventually working with a personal trainer and then taking part in group fitness classes. Not only did he begin to lose the excess weight, Marc noticed he felt better about himself. He had more confidence, and was handling his stress better. Eventually Marc decided to become a certified trainer himself. "I was passionate about fitness, and I also saw it as a natural progression so I could help Chris out with her business when she needed it," he says.
Three years later and their fitness paths now connected, the couple decided to open The Sweat Box - a fitness studio offering personal training and group fitness classes.
"Body by Chris was doing well: her success was quite dramatic," says Marc, "but she was a one woman show. She was renting a gym for her personal training business, and we could see she was going to hit a limit where she was."
"I had a 6 month waiting list for clients," Christine says. "I wasn't able to hire anyone in the place I was renting, and I couldn't grow like I wanted to in the space I was in. So Marc and I made a decision to shift from Body by Chris and evolve into The Sweat Box."
They began looking for a location for their new business, and in June 2019 they opened the doors to their studio located at 35 Trillium Drive, Unit 4 in Kitchener. They describe The Sweat Box as a boutique style fitness centre that's not like traditional gyms. Members can book personal and group training sessions to work with their schedules, and there are no contracts. Part of what makes them unique is their focus on form; both Christine and Marc concentrate on teaching technique so that members are training safely. They say The Sweat Box is all about developing general health, strength and cardio capacity in order to make people's day to day living 'amazing'. While the couple works together to grow the business and design the programs, Marc's focus is on group classes and administration, while Christine's is on personal training.
"I love the one-on-one relationship," says Christine, "I like to make people feel good about themselves, and not intimidated about coming into our space. I like group training too, but the relationship is stronger in personal fitness and I love empowering women and men and making them feel good. Our clients have to feel good about themselves - that's what we're really about."
They've built a very committed community of members in a short period of time, and reviews have been overwhelming.
"It makes my heart sing," says Christine. "People who come to The Sweat Box like how we motivate them, and how we drive them. The Google reviews our members have posted make me so thankful. It's like my passion is flowing into them!"
"The best feedback I've received came from a female client in her 40's who told me she was having her snow tires put on and had to put the tires in her car," says Marc. "She grabbed them and put them in, and it was no big deal. It was the first time she didn't have to ask her husband to do it for her."
One thing the duo has learned through their respective journeys is that fitness goals are very personal - they have to be something you want.
"Before he began to work out I was always there for Marc, but getting fit was a decision he had to make on his own," Christine explains. "No matter what, you can't change for anyone else - you need to change for yourself. We say that to our members, we say that to our personal training clients; if you think you're doing this for someone else, you're not going to be as successful. If you're doing this for you, you're making that choice, and that's what's going to make your transition stick."
"And it's not about being perfect and adhering to lofty goals," adds Marc. "It's about doing one thing better today than you did yesterday. All of those little positive changes become cumulative very quickly!"