Fitness Industry Council of Canada Awards 2023 Industry Leadership Award to Jolene de Vries

Fitness Industry Council of Canada Awards 2023 Industry Leadership Award to Jolene de Vries

Photo: Jolene de Vries (left) & Sara Hodson

By Erin Phelan

By Erin Phelan

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

This past weekend Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) presented the prestigious Industry Leadership Award to Anytime Fitness owner Jolene de Vries for her incredible work and instrumental role in helping FIC reverse a proposed provincial tax on gyms in Saskatchewan.


In March 2022, the government of Saskatchewan announced they would impose a new provincial tax on events, casinos and gyms. “Just like when we were kids watching Sesame Street, one of those things didn’t fit,” said Sara Hodson, President of FIC as she announced FIC’s unanimous decision. “Jolene immediately stepped up in incredible ways, going above and beyond, to make the case that fitness is not entertainment, and that gyms are essential for the physical and mental health of their members.”


This action included galvanizing fitness club owners into action, creating a postcard campaign for members to write to their elected officials, presenting their case in the Saskatchewan legislature, and continually pushing the media message that gyms are essential to healthcare. FIC also launched a strong PR and media campaign, and wrote opinion pieces.


In August 2022, the government announced that gyms would no longer be part of the proposed tax.


In accepting her award, de Vries, owner of three Anytime Fitness locations, said fitness needs to be an essential part of the healthcare system: “It was hard to see people struggle in the pandemic so much. They were having problems with their diabetes again, anxiety was back up, pain from lack of movement came back. We are essential.”


She noted that the work in rebuilding the fitness industry also lies in changing the messaging. “In the past we have had a gap in our marketing – where we see the bodybuilders, the fitness competitions, where 98% of our members use us as part of their healthcare. We need to become a true partner.”


Before starting Anytime Fitness with her husband, Jolene de Vries worked in the mining and steel industries but her love of fitness started as a young teen, and led her and her husband to opening their first Anytime location in 2016. Jolene is a multi-certified trainer who holds over a dozen certifications, including NASM-CPT, NASM-GPTs and over half a dozen certifications with Pain-Free Performance (PPSC), Precision Nutrition, Fitness Yoga Instructor and many more.


 “I believe that fitness is true healthcare, and we should be part of a team-centred approach, with other healthcare professionals, to help our clients in their health and fitness journeys. We can help our clients live their best lives through better quality of life,” says de Vries, who is also a passionate equestrian.


Gabriel Hardy, Executive Director of Fitness Industry Council of Canada, said the decision to award the 2023 Industry Leadership Award to Jolene de Vries was unanimous not only because of the work she does, but because of the example she set for what the FIC can achieve.


“She led the action that led to change, and at a time when we needed true leaders, Jolene stepped up,” says Hardy. “We are so proud to work with her, and with other fitness industry leaders, to make sure that fitness is recognized as essential.”

Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.

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