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Flaman shapes up Transition House
The Vernon Women’s Transition House is able to offer yet another service to those in need thanks to a donation by Flaman Fitness.
Working through the Frank Flaman Foundation, the charity arm of the Flaman Group of Companies, the Vernon fitness franchise recently installed about $30,000 in gym equipment for the non-profit society.
Brooke McLardy, programs director with Transition House, said the new equipment represents another layer of support for its clients. The organization already offers room and board for up to 25 women and children fleeing their homes for safety reasons, counselling services, outreach programs, legal advocacy and groups for women.
“It’s a recreational opportunity for them,” said McLardy. “They can get some fitness and stress relief without having to leave the house, where their safety might be compromised.”
Among the equipment is a Bowflex tread climber, Tuff Stuff universal gym, as well as a pair of Freemotion treadmills, elliptical trainer and recumbent bike.
Staff have also set up a separate quiet room that houses a massage chair and other relaxation equipment.
“We’ve had a lot of women in the house over the last couple of months just going for it on those machines,” said McLardy, who noted staff are also taking advantage of the new equipment.
“I was a little bit surprised. I wasn’t sure how much the clients would use it. I was happy we were getting it, but curious how it would be, but they’ve been on it.”
Laughing, she added: “It’s right below my office and I hear it all day long.”
The Vernon franchise, one of more than 30 in Western Canada and Ontario, installed the equipment and followed up with a tutorial session with staff so they could show clients how to use it properly.
“The staff was fantastic,” said McLardy. “The setup was painless. Two or three guys brought in all the machines in all the cardboard and Styrofoam and they cleaned up every scrap.
“They were super respectful when they were here and got it done with no fuss at all.”
Colby Russell, Vernon store manager, was thrilled to support the women’s shelter, but noted that going into an environment like that requires more sensitivity than with a typical client.
“It’s kind of a touchy situation to go into a shelter, especially when in the fitness world there are pretty outgoing men,” said Russell, 28. “It’s tricky to go in there and not startle anyone.”
Russell, who has been in the fitness industry for seven years, said the really difficult part is giving away free product. Most organizations he approaches usually think it’s a scam.
Flaman Fitness has only been open in Vernon since November, so it is new to most people.
“Most charities are like ‘What do you want from us?’ or ‘You’re tricking us,’ said Russell.
“That was the fun part about it, trying to convince them that, yes, it’s true, and yes, we really want to do this.”
Flaman Fitness, based in Saskatchewan, is the largest fitness equipment supplier in Canada, employing more than 200 people.
The company, founded by Frank Flaman in 1959, originally started as an agricultural operation, and has since diversified into trailers, fitness equipment (including rentals) and even security systems.
The foundation donates $2 million in equipment annually to charities in Canada, and around the world.
“We are highly encouraged to go out in the community and find charities to donate that product to get them going and help them out,” said Russell.
“With our foundation, we have guidelines and restrictions on who we can donate to. Women and children in need are our only candidate.”
Some of the global charities the foundation supports include World Vision, Change for Children, Operation Eye Sight and the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity.