Imagine the things you could do if you were able to harness the energy of the sun.
Lynn Beauregard is attempting to try.
Beauregard is the owner of Collingwood’s newest fitness studio, Infrared Fitness & Yoga (IFY), where all of the workout classes are held in rooms warmed by infrared heaters designed to mimic the gentle warmth of the sun.
“The idea is for people to walk in and experience almost a warm ocean, beach feeling. You get that tropical feeling because you are experiencing the same type of heat,” said Beauregard.
The small, welcoming studio features two workout rooms lined with ceramic infrared heaters. The natural heat rises, filling the room and producing almost a greenhouse effect. Because our bodies are accustomed to absorb the sun’s warmth, the infrared heat penetrates the outer layer of our skin, triggering sweat and warming the soft connective tissues deep within instead of overheating our lungs and core temperature.
“It’s a very natural heat,” said Beauregard. “Because it’s not gas or electricity, it’s not suffocating. Our bodies are conditioned to receive it.”
According to IFY, the benefits of infrared heat are endless. Detoxification and weight loss can occur from the deep and excessive sweating, and infrared is said to reduce tension and stress, improve circulation, and ease pain and inflammation even without any movement.
“The heat is much less intense, so more time can be spent in this environment, and workouts can be done more safely as well,” Beauregard continued. But she wanted to offer more than just another hot yoga studio.
“Why should yoga be the only thing you can do in the heat? I never understood that.”
IFY features both fitness and yoga classes for all levels, from gentle yoga and stretching to HIIT pilates and total body insanity labs.
Beauregard, who grew up in Montreal and now splits her time between Toronto and Collingwood, never thought she would own a fitness studio.
Several years ago, Beauregard was diagnosed with high levels of mercury. She was told one of the only ways to detox was to expose her body to infrared heat. After further research, SaunaRay came highly recommended. She worked with the Collingwood-based company to have one custom built and installed in her home.
“It’s such a nice heat, I have been using it for almost 10 years now,” Beauregard said.
One day while travelling out west for work, Beauregard stumbled upon a hot yoga studio that used infrared heaters as its source of warmth.
“I thought it was genius,” said Beauregard. “How had I never thought of this before?”
Inspired and obsessed with its benefits, Beauregard looked into bringing the franchise to Ontario. After further research and multiple headaches, she realized she didn’t quite identify with the franchise’s values.
But she was hooked on the idea, so Beauregard decided to go it alone.
Beauregard lined up the contractor, engineer, architect, marketing team, business advisor, and enlisted SaunaRay to create the customized heaters.
Although she still spends half her time in Toronto, Beauregard is hoping to eventually be in Collingwood more often. She felt the community would be receptive to her unique business idea and opted to open her studio here instead. Despite a few issues in location and leasing agreements, a few months later Beauregard had almost everything she needed.
And then she met Marlo Stoutenburg and the last piece fell into place.
Stoutenburg is the IFY studio manager and “has done everything” to help make Beauregard’s dream a reality. The St. Catherines native has been involved in health, fitness and athletics in some regard for over 30 years, and when a mutual colleague connected her with Beauregard, “it was meant to be.”
Beauregard, who still owns and operates an administrative association and event management company in Toronto, needed someone to look after the studio full time. Stoutenburg’s multidisciplinary background was perfect to do so, and Beauregard had complete confidence that Stoutenburg could pull together an excellent team of staff and instructors.
Stoutenburg started attending every fitness class possible in South Georgian Bay, and as word of the new studio spread, she began connecting with instructors and aspiring instructors of all backgrounds and levels of experience.
“Every time I would meet a new instructor we would sit down and get a feel for each other’s personality,” said Stoutenburg. “I would analyze the fit in terms of what I envisioned, the family I wanted to have and the people I wanted to be involved.”
IFY now has 18 instructors and three full-time staff members, and Stoutenburg is confident and excited about the team they have put in place.
“It’s all about vibes. We took a chance on some new instructors who just got certified,” said Stoutenburg. “I can use my experience to help bring them along in something they are really passionate about.”
And it also reignited Stoutenburg’s passion for the industry as well.
“After 30 years of teaching, I was getting bored and thinking about looking for something else. Helping these instructors has helped regain my passion, which has been really awesome,” she said.
The studio has only been open for a few weeks, and already the class sizes are rapidly growing. Within the first week, over 100 people had signed up for a membership or a trial class.
Both Beauregard and Stoutenburg know they will have to play around with the classes and schedule times, but they are excited to see what their clients are requesting and are open to adapting the schedule to fit their needs.
“We are going to let it change and shift and grow as we grow,” said Stoutenburg.
For Beauregard, it’s just amazing to see more and more people try out the studio’s many classes, and use the bright communal room as a place to connect and unwind after.
“It was a difficult process. Everything was a challenge,” said Beauregard. “There were times when I had to tell myself to remain positive and believe in my vision. If this was not supposed to happen, it wouldn’t have all fallen into place and been served on such a perfect platter. All of these amazing people and instructors, and local contractors, they wouldn’t have walked into my life.”