Fringe benefits

Laurie Cooper and business partner Chris Austin break a sweat at their new gym, BodyCo Fitness, in Deep Cove.  - Maria Spitale-Leisk photo
Laurie Cooper and business partner Chris Austin break a sweat at their new gym, BodyCo Fitness, in Deep Cove.
— image credit: Maria Spitale-Leisk photo

Looking to lose 50 pounds, Laurie Cooper didn’t just buy herself a fitness pass — she purchased an entire Deep Cove gym.

Clad in a teal Lycra jacket, Cooper bounces around the Starbucks situated above her new venture, BodyCo Fitness, at the Dollarton Village Shopping Centre. The 53-year-old’s endorphins may be flowing, but she still needs her caffeine fix.

When she talks about Deep Cove being a tight-knit community, she isn’t kidding. The barista who just handed Cooper her coffee has been enlisted to DJ her gym’s grand opening party.

From the outset, one thing is clear: Cooper is the antithesis of a gym rat.

“I hate working out,” she says, sporting some perfectly coiffed hair.

Still, she sees the inherent value in breaking a sweat.  Cooper watched her mother-in-law struggle daily with heart disease.

So, last spring, she decided to get moving. It was nothing short of serendipity when Cooper, who had recently moved back to Deep Cove, saw some empty studio space in her neighbourhood.

She then asked a friend, Chris Austin, who owns BodyCo Fitness in the Pemberton Avenue area, to partner with her on this new location.

Their relationship was cemented years ago when Austin helped Cooper’s son — who was being bullied at school because of his weight — get into shape.

“It changed his life,” says Cooper.

And when she opened BodyCo in November, Cooper’s goal was to inspire change in her client’s lives.

“Lots of people have tried and failed to get fit and lose weight. After a while, they just give up,” says Cooper.

The mother of two has been there herself, jumping around to find a workout program that she feels comfortable with.

Which is why she created “a gym for people who hate going to the gym.”

And, she’s managed to entice them all — by introducing the Bro's Club, for men who want to work out really hard, and the Tuesday and Thursday evening Body Blast class taught by Valentino.

“He is the most fit, ripped person I have ever seen,” exclaims Cooper.

Cooper is all about personalized attention at this boutique-style gym. For example, she recently motivated an older woman, who is recovering from knee surgery, to stay on track with her cycling. Cooper stood by and chatted with the woman to help the time pass more quickly.

Talking to people is second nature for Cooper, who is coming off a career as a radio and TV producer. During her media travels she met a Vatican librarian, who was originally from Toronto and a big Blue Jays fan, and celebrated Canadian author Pierre Berton, who helped fasten the bow tie Cooper wore for him.

Cooper is also active in other areas of the community.  A trained ski instructor, she serves as the executive director of Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports — a skiing and snowboarding program for persons with a disability.

BodyCo has become a true family business for Cooper. Her husband is taking spin instructor classes, while Cooper and her daughter study to become personal trainers.

“She’s beating me on all the quizzes,” laughs Cooper.

Down below the Starbucks, the uptempo music beckons from inside BodyCo’s spin studio. In the adjacent workout space, Cooper grabs the cords at the resistance training station.

She figures she still has another 25 pounds to go to reach her goal weight.

But Cooper knows she is in good company. “I call it Cheers without the beers,” says Cooper of her gym, where she knows everyone’s name.

BodyCo Fitness is located at Unit 385 – 489 North Dollarton Hwy. More info:

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