Setting up shop in rural PEI proves successful for Ontario family
By Luke Arbuckle
When eight eastern PEI schools were closed in 2009, the community of St Peter’s decided they would repurpose the consolidated school. Five years later, the building is home to a number of small businesses, a church and acts as a community centre for the area.
Originally from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, 35-year-old Aaron Wilson and his family moved to St Peter’s a little over a year ago. Mr Wilson was looking for a change of pace and after conversations with some Islanders, was convinced the community of St Peter’s would be a great spot to open a gym. He said it took some time to wrap his head around it, but his location in the lower floor of the old school is proving to be perfect for Train’s Fitness.
“I’ll admit at first I wasn’t sure if this was going to work, but after a few months we were seeing over a hundred people in here a week,” Mr Wilson said.
“Before long, I knew it could work and now we’re running six days a week, this spot was really a blessing.”
A kickboxer and professionally trained Muay Thai fighter, Mr Wilson said the gym’s name came from his nickname, Train, a name he’s passed on to his 7-month-old son.
“It’s a name that’s been with me for a long time and I’m proud to both share it with the community and my little boy,” he said.
“I think I’ve found the perfect place to raise both of them.”
Mr Wilson said the old school provides a variety of athletic and fitness classes, competitive mixed martial arts training, kettle-ball classes, and bootcamps for people of all ages.
“A lot of families are coming in to do different things and many people tell stories about this old school,” Mr Wilson said.
“They said they used to be a teacher or student here and that they like that they can still drop in, that it’s nice to see the building still in use. It’s actually pretty amazing.”
Upstairs is the community’s CAP site, library, an Internet-based jewelry store, and other businesses.
The building is also home to the offices of the Milligan Seafood buyers. They moved into the building last July to be closer to the fishermen they work with.
Owner Francis Milligan of St Peter’s said they’re very happy with the move into the old school.
“There’s a sense of community here,” she said.
“We moved here to be closer to local fishermen and we wanted to support the community’s use of the school. It’s been a great thing for us, and I look forward to watching it grow.”
Encouraged by the success of his business,Train’s Fitness, at its location in the old consolidated school in St Peter’s, owner Aaron Wilson said he’s happy to be using the old school as a fitness and training facility and looks forward to seeing even more businesses take advantage of the location. Luke Arbuckle photo