FALL RIVER: What started out as personal training, boot camps and mom and baby fitness classes in 2009, has blossomed into a busy full-time business that Deborah Peddle-Hann continues to have a passion for—even with the curveballs she’s been thrown over the past two years.
The month of November marks 12 years in business for Journey to Wellness.
Peddle-Hann runs and operates her now mostly virtual business out of her St. Andrews Village home, where she lives with her husband, daughter and two sons.
“When I first started Journey to Wellness, I intended it to be a part-time job as a second income for our family,” she said over lunch recently at another Fall River business, Good Day Café. “I have a passion for helping others, but my children were young, and I was doing it because it was fun and helped me meet people in the community.”
Sometimes, Peddle-Hann entertained the idea of renting a larger location where she could advertise more and attract a larger crowd, but she enjoyed running her small business.
“I wasn’t always interested in growing my business beyond Fall River,” she said. “I would see places for rent and think how great of a location it would be. But there was always a small voice that told me not to go that route, to just keep doing what I’m doing.”
This ended up being a good decision as the past two years have been tough for many small businesses, especially those with brick-and-mortar locations. Peddle-Hann felt the impact when she was shut down to in-person services as well, but considers herself fortunate that she found a means to reach people safely during the pandemic.
“As difficult as it first was, it has been a blessing in disguise for my business, and me personally because it opened my eyes to what was possible,” she said. “It taught me something about myself that I didn’t know was there. It made me realize that it was time to stop dreaming about growing, and just make it happen.”
This is something she says Journey to Wellness stands for, and what she asks of her clients and members.
“If you want to make changes, don’t just think about it,” she says. “Go for it because you’d be shocked at what you can achieve when you take that step outside of your comfort zone.”
Peddle-Hann has a passion for helping people and providing the support and guidance they need. When the COVID-19 lockdowns first started, restricting people from getting out for non-essential travel or outings, she knew she had to do something.
“When we shut down the first time, and after my initial panic, I just kept asking myself, “What do people truly need right now?”, she says. “People needed support, a morale boost, and both mental and physical outlets for their stress. I knew I had to do something to help.”
That’s when the Fall River resident learned everything she could about the Zoom platform and virtual world.
“In March 2020, I started offering free virtual fitness classes to see if this was something people needed, and the response was overwhelming. I had strangers messaging me to say I was saving their lives.”
“As the virtual classes and training took off, it was obvious the restrictions weren’t going away any time soon and I had to do something to not only earn an income, but also keep the ball rolling for members who needed my help.”
Although she already had a virtual presence with her online challenges, Peddle-Hann said her market opened exponentially with the introduction of Zoom and other livestreaming platforms. In July 2020, she officially launched her virtual fit camps.
“All of a sudden, my market went from Fall River and area to across Canada,” she said. “I have people in all provinces signing up for the Journey to Wellness Virtual Fit Camp and participating in the classes and workshops. Location is no longer an obstacle.”
Peddle-Hann gets goosebumps when she thinks about how her business has grown from her once small studio and outdoor classes. She hopes to continue to grow as more and more members welcome her into their homes virtually.
“People appreciate that I can now come to them, and many people have invested a lot of time and money into home workout spaces,” says Peddle-Hann. “I urge members to not let obstacles stand in their way of a healthy lifestyle.”
She says wellness isn’t just something you strive for and when you get there, you’re done.
“Wellness doesn’t work that way. It’s a journey,” she said referencing her company name. “The definition of wellness changes as we age and experience different life events. I’m now 47 years old and what wellness meant for me 12 years ago, is different than it does now and may be different in 12 years from now. Members appreciate that I’m a real person and mother who has real struggles. It makes them feel less alone.”
Peddle-Hann’s goal with her clients is unique—to get clients not needing her anymore.
“I know that sounds strange to a lot of people but, I want my clients and members to feel confident enough that they don’t need me everyday,” she says. “I’d love everyone to stay forever of course, but when members simply know how to live a healthy lifestyle without me, I know I’ve succeeded.”
To find out more about the Journey to Wellness Virtual Fit Camp, visit https://www.journey2wellness.ca/