When other gyms were shutting down, I opened two new locations.

In 2021, when lockdowns were putting so many gyms out of business, Connie McInnes expanded R Studios Fitness from three locations to five – despite having closed her doors for 6 months. She credits EO with giving her that growth mindset and having her fellow Atlantic Canada chapter members to support her along the way.

For Connie, being part of a forward-thinking group of entrepreneurs gave her a “thriving mentality.” Instead of just hunkering down and trying to survive, she chose to flourish, and it’s a choice that’s paid off: R Studios’ fitness enthusiasts are thrilled to be back at the gym – and back to the close, connected community Connie has built for them.

How did you manage to grow during the pandemic from so many businesses like yours failed? 

Having that support system gave me a lot of confidence and being involved in an organization that’s focused on growth was a big part of it, too. As a business, we just decided to find a way to do well despite the obstacles. So, when the opportunity presented itself to stick to our growth goals and open a spin studio and buy an existing gym, we were ready.

It was risky, of course. No one could predict where the pandemic was going to land. But EO’s support and encouragement – and their culture of ambition – kept me looking forward despite trying times.

You spent several years in EO’s Accelerator program before joining as a member – what was that like? 

I joined Accelerator when it started up in Atlantic Canada in 2016 – I was still in the initial stages of my business. It gave me a lot of foundational education on running a business and was a huge platform for me to connect with other entrepreneurs. There was a ton of great learning content – a lot of full EO members actually came to our learning events.

After being in the program for a few years, however, I reached the peak of what I was going to get out of it. I really wanted to join EO – I had always admired the program and was intrigued by the personal component of it. All entrepreneurs face challenges when it comes to the emotional side of the business, and there’s so much a partner or a friend just can’t relate to. I was really keen to qualify, but my revenue wasn’t quite there. So I left.

When the pandemic hit and everything became a Zoom meeting, I felt more alone than ever. Having a local EO network became instantly appealing, so I rejoined the Accelerator program. It made a big difference to have the support of people who understand the city I’m in and are familiar with my business.

Coming back helped me get into that growth mindset again. So after about four months, I opened two new locations, which got me to the qualifying level, and I switched into EO in September 2021.

What has your first year as an EO member been like? 

The personal side of it is everything I had hoped for. In my forum, we all have very different businesses, but we face similar challenges in our personal lives. While we only meet once a month as a group, I’m in touch with my forum almost daily. If anyone’s having an off-day, they know they can reach out to someone who can relate. These people have become some of my closest friends.

I’ve realized that businesses will always go through ebbs and flows, but the important thing is how you navigate yourself through them. Entrepreneurship is a lonely world. EO makes me feel like I have teammates who are rooting for me, and that’s huge.

What is it about your forum that forges such close connections? 

We build strong relationships and communicate on a deeper level. We go beyond the fact that we’re feeling a certain way and explore the why of it – and how it’s showing up in our lives. We break things down together, uncovering layers that let us really understand our reasons for feeling or reacting a certain way, getting to the deeper story. And that has given me the tools to communicate on a more meaningful level in my day-to-day life as well.

But that’s just one part of the experience. There’s a lot more to EO than my forum, and I’m very involved. There’s chapter engagement, networking events, learning events, travel. There’s an entire bank of resources online and chances to connect with people across the globe. I’m on the board and take on any opportunity to help plan events and take part in strategic vision sessions. We’ve planned “luncharounds” where people from different forums are paired up for lunch. We go skydiving. Rock climbing. Dining on the ocean floor. 

There are so many opportunities to challenge your mind and connect with people in different ways. Together, we’re helping create entrepreneurial culture in Halifax and Atlantic Canada – and it’s keeping me incredibly inspired and driven to continue innovating, growing, and making my business (and myself!) better and better.

Connie McInnes, Atlantic Canada Chapter

Founder, R Studios Fitness

5 employees, 50+ contractors

In business 6 years

EO member for almost 1 year

Posted on 2022-05-11