When she first came to Golden, owning a gym was not at the top of Jaime Paquette’s mind.
Coming here for the lifestyle of living in an active community with easy access to the outdoors, Paquette was a member at Golden’s gym when she first became aware that the business was for sale.
Watching the franchise of gyms grow from her home in Ottawa before she even moved to Golden, she knew what an asset a 24-hour gym was to Golden and jumped on the opportunity to become a local business owner.
“It was the first time that the idea of entrepreneurship no longer completely terrified me,” said Paquette.
“I didn’t necessarily feel 100 per cent ready, but I don’t think anyone who jumps into that world feels 100 per cent ready, but I took it as a sign of feeling as ready as I ever could be and that this was something that I could handle.”
Coming up on two years of owning the gym, Paquette says she has tried to foster an inclusive environment, where everyone can feel welcome getting in a workout.
She draws from her own personal experience when she first got into fitness, when she was in her late teens and early 20s with a passion for bringing fitness to everyone.
“Everyone is here to feel better and improve and reach their goals. There’s a community here at the gym that’s so supportive,” said Paquette.
“Certainly there are people who do find it difficult to process that a woman can own a gym, or that this is my gym when they come in, but it usually doesn’t take them very long before they understand and see my passion for this industry.”
Running the gym hasn’t been without it’s struggles –Paquette says that she knew that the first year was going to be tough, but didn’t expect the added challenges that COVID-19 brought in her second year.
She’s risen to the challenge though, renovating the gym, branching out into merchandising and being nominated for the Kicking Horse Chamber Community Excellence Awards in the COVID-19 response category.
Paquette says through the closures, she wanted to support her members, refusing to raise fees when the gym was allowed to reopen.
The community has risen to support her in kind throughout the pandemic.
“Even while we were closed, I had people contacting me to buy merchandise, supplements, anything we had to help support us,” said Paquette.
“We’re all in this together. I never expected that this would be how my first two years as a business owner would go.
“But I think I can deal with just about anything now.”
While she’s been pushed and tested to her limits by the COVID experience, she says she’s learned and wants any woman looking to get into business to know it’s okay to reach out and ask for help.
“If you’re on that journey, we were all once in your shoes, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to other people,” said Paquette.
”I’ve found it really empowering to discover how many amazing female entrepreneurs we have here in Golden – that a community of like-minded businesswomen has been a big inspiration for me on my journey.
“And I think it also provides a wonderful example for other aspiring female entrepreneurs out there.”
Paquette is continuing to plan for the future, pushing her business forward in a community that she loves.
International Women’s Day was first celebrated on March 19, 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The United Nations later started celebrating on March 8.
In 2021 it should be no surprise that more and more woman hold positions of power. Whether it’s business, politics, sports or the non-profit sector, woman continue to achieve new milestones.
This story is part of a series of stories highlighting four women in Golden who are leaders in their fields. You can read all of their stories in our annual publication called Women in Business in the March 11 issue of The Golden Star.