“Where do you like to workout?” is the question I get as asked as often as I get asked where I like to go for the best blowout, and, let me tell you, I get asked this often. Now, for the first time, I can actually give the name of one place I love to answer both questions thanks to the opening BOLO (aka BodyLove) Inc. If you live in Toronto, you may have heard about BOLO through social media or word of mouth, but haven’t been quite sure of what it is exactly. Well, it’s a boxing-focused gym, it’s a work space, a coffee shop, and even a hair salon. BOLO has tapped in to what we really need as busy millennials who are striving to do it all in a day, and it’s all thanks to the company founder, Caleigh Rykiss AKA @CaleighFit. I bow down to Caleigh for her bravery and “badassery” (as the BOLO crew like to call it), jumping from a ten-year career in television to dive head first into the fitness world by opening a drop-dead-gorgeous 7,000-square-foot gym in the middle of downtown Toronto. Yeah, you read that right. Keep reading to learn more about Caleigh’s baby, BOLO Inc Toronto, and you’ll soon find out why the entire Edit Seven team is totally obsessed with this new business:
Business Name: BOLO – BodyLove Inc
Name & Title: Caleigh Rykiss, Founder & CEO
Education: Undergrad – U of T
Edit Seven: Tell us about your business, what do you do?
Caleigh Rykiss: At the core – BOLO is technically a gym, café and salon hybrid. More than that, though, it is a community wellness hub built specifically to cater to the young urban professional. BOLO believes that you should be able to have your cake and eat it too, chase it down with a bullet coffee, answer 100 emails, get a sick workout and then have your hair blown out without compromising anything or commuting to a million different locations.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
CR: It all started because of a void I felt in the fitness industry. As a freelance journalist with a side hustle in fitness, I constantly felt like I was compromising something. After a workout, I almost always ended up at a crappy coffee shop, eating processed food in order to bang off a few articles. I was basing my workout choice around whether I had an event to go to after so that I wasn’t too much of a sweaty mess for photos and mingling. I was nostalgic for a gym where I felt connected to the people and the instructors – the last few years felt like the concept of building a FITFAM was sacrificed in order get a diverse cross training schedule. I was sick of all these issues, so I decided to open a facility that aimed to solve numerous problems in the industry and offer a convenient, cool, community driven space for people like me.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
CR: I love what I do because, straight up, I created my own wellness wonderland. I knew that I would love it, but you never know if others will feel the same way. By far the most rewarding thing is watching it change the lives of others too. Not just changing them physically (i.e. stronger, fitter) but seeing them figure out that they can do more, more comfortably, compromise less and make fewer apologies for their diverse needs is an enormously satisfying feeling. Also watching the different relationships develop under our roof is literally MAGIC.
E7: What makes your business special?
CR: Besides being the first to support the modern hustle in this way, what makes us special are the people. Our entire staff is made up of incredible, happy, encouraging humans whose kindness and enthusiasm is infectious. There is no attitude or competition at BOLO. Just good old fashioned good vibes.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business?
CR: Coming from a career in the TV industry – I never managed people before. Now having nearly 30+ employees, I’d say that managing a team has been one of the biggest learning curves. But it’s also one of the most rewarding parts as well – helping empower and encourage other young professionals to reach their potential, think outside the box and BELIVE IN THEMSELVES!
E7: Your business kicked off with a pop-up before you opened your permanent space, tell us about that decision and process.
CR: From the very start I knew what I wanted BIG BOLO to be and where it was going to be located, but I also knew that realistically opening a 7,000 square foot space without having a team together first or creating any brand awareness would be a huge mistake. We had a unique opportunity to partner with Knixwear, an amazing women’s underwear company, on a pop-up right across the street from where we had signed a lease for BIG BOLO. It was the smartest decision we could have ever made. We got to build an incredible team of trainers, start to get the word out about what we do and why we’re special and start building a community of members.
E7: How do you feel that your background as a TV writer has influenced and benefitted your new career and your business?
CR: People always make comments about what a huge departure starting BOLO is from working in TV and I couldn’t disagree more. I apply my producer experience to every single thing I do – from exactly how I wanted the décor to look, to how I curate our instagram grid, to how I put together a class plan – I’m using the same skills just in different formats and on different platforms.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
CR: Go with your gut and keep moving forward. Millions of people have good ideas every single day, what sets a true entrepreneur apart is someone who is willing to actually start something. That’s the hardest part – starting. From there it takes a strong belief in yourself and the ability to continue to push even on the scariest days and at the lowest moments. Keep going and believe you will find your way.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
CR: I feel like I tried to prepare myself for the shit storm but you can never truly bulletproof yourself to the stress. Every other business owner warned me it would take longer, cost more and that is no effing joke. I should have listened and probably accumulated slightly more start up capital. #startupproblems
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in the fitness and gym business to prepare for?
CR: Prepare for the fact that not all other gyms will want to be friends with you. Remember you’re the new guy on the block and it might take them some time to accept you. Continue to spread good vibes and support the community and hopefully they’ll come around.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
CR: I have an amazing team who helps me stay organized – especially my general manager, she is a fucking rockstar. Balance is difficult because my husband is my business partner so we literally never escape work talk. Puppy snuggles help and bad reality TV at night to shut down the stress thoughts help a lot. Of course exercise is my biggest tool for managing stress and anxiety – I never go a day without doing some form of movement.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
I’m blessed to have some incredible women in my life who have played a huge role in encouraging me and offering guidance. Christine Tessaro, the owner of Spokehaus, is a friend who is has a wealth of knowledge about gym ownership and has been through it all! Pattie Lovett-Reid, BNN host and financial commentator, is a personal friend and mentor who really encouraged me to go for it. Lainey Lui and Erica Wark are friends from the TV world who I look up to a lot – they are the hardest working B’s in the biz and incredibly supportive of other women.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
CR: Exercise, puppy snuggles and tons of water.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
CR: Inspiration comes to me when my mind is in stillness, which doesn’t happen a lot these days – so random places like on the acupuncture table, the shower and yoga class are places I find I come up with a lot of business ideas. The goal is to eventually be less involved in every day affairs at BOLO so I can continue to develop the brand from a high level.
E7: What can people expect with the visit BIG BOLO?
CR: A crazy good sweat, even better vibes and the best coffee on the block.
E7: Who is the BOLO client and why should they check out your studio?
CR: The thing is, BOLO caters to many different kinds of people with different needs, goals, priorities and schedules. It is for anyone who is interested in moving their body in cool ways. It is for those who want to meet dope people who have common interests. Someone who is tired of running around the city to achieve their to-do list or anyone who lives in the hood and needs a reliable smoothie shop or convenient blow bar. The amenities can be used all at once or completely separately. Overall, BOLO is a choose your own adventure kind of place.
BOLO Inc is located at 364 Richmond Street West in Toronto.
Click HERE for more info.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)