No pain, no gain for Charlottetown businesswoman

Dave Stewart
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Rioux balances being new business owner with training for international competition and being full-time nursing student

Samantha Rioux decided to live on the wild side by starting a fitness business in Charlottetown at the same time as she was entering the nursing program at UPEI. She didn’t stop there, however. She’s currently training to represent P.E.I. and Canada at an international fitness, figure and bikini competition in August.

Samantha Rioux knows the pain she feels today will be the strength she has tomorrow.

It’s the slogan the 25-year-old business owner has on the wall at Together Fit Studios on Walker Drive (which she co-owns with her husband, Josh) in Charlottetown but it could very well apply to her own life.

Rioux is also a full-time nursing student at UPEI and is preparing to represent Canada at a world fitness, figure and bikini competition.

Balancing all three at the exact same time — remember she has to train for the competition —  means Rioux is certainly hoping that the pain she feels today will pay off tomorrow.

Rioux has a piece of advice for people her age looking to start their own business.

“Don’t do it when you’re in school,’’ she jokes. “We started the business right when I was going into nursing. If you’re (doing) anything that doesn’t take up all your time it might be a little bit easier. We have classes and we have clinical and I’m working at the hospital on top of it.’’

But Rioux is the type of person who likes to be on the move most of the time, loves nursing and is passionate about good health and healthy living. She doesn’t really consider running Together Fit a job. For Rioux, that’s her down time.

“You have to start something that you really believe in because if you don’t believe in your product nobody else is going to.’’

Rioux is a certified body re-shaping specialist, as is her husband, but Samantha is also a national figure champion. She’s hoping to pass on her knowledge on to others, training clients to compete in bikini, figure, fitness, physique and bodybuilding competitions.

Rioux has even earned herself an invite to the mother of all bodybuilding competitions — the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in Columbus, Ohio.

“When I go into the studio and train clients it’s fun for me because I believe in what I’m doing and I know when they come to me and want results they’re going to get results.’’

Rioux says every single minute of her day is scheduled, from where she has to be to what she eats. Rioux even weighs her food to make sure she gets the most out of every meal.

There have been challenges along the way, though. She suffered a back injury as a cheerleader at UNB in 2009 that forced her to give up contact sports.

“When I came home I was like ‘What am I going to do’?’’

She says Josh went through similar ups and downs and those peaks and valleys led both of them to become personal trainers.

Her parents posed another challenge. Her mother thought she was too thin while her father wasn’t all that thrilled with the bikinis Samantha was wearing at her competitions.

“My family was not supportive of my decisions to compete at all. They are now but it took them five years. See, I was always fully clothed before. The bathing suit style is designed to showcase physique (and) my parents didn’t realize that (at the time).’’

Together Fit certainly isn’t the only gym with qualified people in the province. Charlottetown’s Dynamic Fitness, for example, boasts Olympic gold medallist Dave ‘Eli’ MacEachern among its stable of trainers.

Rioux is hoping, though, they can find their spot.

“People (on P.E.I.) don’t know enough about bodybuilding and fitness to make an educated decision about what it is versus what it’s not. Here, everyone has a preconceived notion of what bodybuilding is. It’s hard for us to open our doors and teach people.’’

When asked about other gyms in Charlottetown and around the Island, Rioux says no one does it like they do when it comes to prepping athletes for fitness and bodybuilding competitions.

Despite her busy schedule, Rioux wouldn’t change a thing. She has every intention of pursuing a career in nursing and running Together Fit with her husband.

She believes the nursing training will give the business that extra edge.

“My ideal goal would be to work 20 hours a week at the studio and 20 hours a week at the hospital. I love the medical side of things and being in acute care . . . but I like being able to take that knowledge base to help other people. Nursing is as important to my life as the studio is and I don’t want to give up one over the other.’’

That means no free time for anything but work but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t want free time. We don’t go out or have people over. My fun time is when I work out, when I see my clients. I don’t have any down time. There are so many hours of the day people aren’t productive and are home sitting on the couch and watching TV, which is fine, but it can lead to a sedentary lifestyle.’’

After all, her slogan is pain today, strength tomorrow.

 

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Fit Studios on Walker Drive

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Columbus, Ohio Iceland

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