When Deanna Loychuk was a child growing up on a ranch in Heffley Creek, a small community just outside of Kamloops, her imagination saw opportunities to make money everywhere.
By age four, she had already started a lemonade stand on her front yard. Not satisfied by the revenues generated, she began to look elsewhere, and saw men going to the nearby lake to sell worms to the fishermen. So Deanna started digging up worms in her own back yard to sell at the lake. Using that money, Deanna went to the store to buy candy, but not for herself – instead, she doubled the market price and re-sold the candy for profit.
That intrepid entrepreneurial spirit and business savvy – present and operative at such a young age, clearly had Deanna Loychuk marked for success.
Today, Deanna and husband and ‘50-50’ business partner Jackson, are the founders of the women’s- only workout – now practically a household moniker in their original BC market – 30 Minute Hit.
“I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit in me. I always knew that if I needed something in life I was going to get it – no matter what,” Deanna says.
Deanna and Jackson, both lifelong entrepreneurs, met working in a restaurant, and quickly found their kindred spirits.
“We’re no different that everyone else – when we started out we had nothing,” says Jackson. “We had zero. There was no gift – there was no trust fund. At that point in our lives we were both pursuing entrepreneurial endeavours, but that meant we had to take a part time real job, just to pay the bills.”
The couple also made money selling water guns invented by Jackson’s father at the beach, and that business brought in nearly $250 per day.
While Jackson was concurrently contracting with his father, he was also running a Mixed Martial Arts School out of a large gym space in North Vancouver.
Jackson says that while they offered good quality training, he recognized that the business was not differentiating itself in the marketplace.
“Even having success in that business, it wasn’t something I was passionate about… you have to try things, to see if it’s a fit for you,” Jackson says.
The Loychucks visited Deanna’s sister for Mother’s Day in 2004 and a conversation ensued about launching a circuit-boxing program for women only.
“By the time we got in the car and got back to Vancouver, in that three and a half hour ride, we designed the whole circuit, thought of the name – our heads were just going,” Deanna remembers.
Quickly taking the business from an idea to fruition, Deanna and Jackson launched 30 Minute Hit in North Vancouver in September 2004. Deanna remembers that she felt no fear, and just jumped right into the ring
“We had just our personalities, our motivation and our experience from the gym and all the training we had done– that was it,” emphasizes Jackson.
Jackson believes 30 Minute Hit saw initial success because they waited to make sure they had the business model just right before expanding.
“We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves until we were 100 per cent sure that we had a solid product. Even though we were having a lot of success here, we wanted to make sure, because I understood right from the beginning, that as soon as you reproduce it – every time you reproduce it, it makes it tenfold more difficult to go back and change things, so you have to get it right from the beginning.
“We know that what we have developed is strong and will stand the test of time. There’s no detail too small when it comes to your brand. The first reflection of your brand is the quality of your product,” he says.
In the first year, 30 Minute Hit’s North Vancouver location started with three mornings a week, and then grew to six mornings and three nights a week, with a full staff.
The second location opened in 2006 and then the momentum started to build in 2008.
The success stemmed from the Loychuk’s symbiotic relationship: Jackson built the product, and Deanna built the community.
Deanna remembers, “I was hungry to get members, so I did whatever it took. I [marketed] it with post cards, going everywhere, talking to women, saying, ‘I just started this new work out, you should try it, it’s free – come and see me. That’s what I did, by word of mouth, and grew the business.”
Modelling from the ancient art of kickboxing, they molded the workout into a format that made it accessible to women of all fitness levels and body types.
Deanna drew from her deep- seated social small town community roots. Her passion was building and leading the community, while Jackson focussed on the mechanics of building the systems and the training component.
Deanna learned every client’s name, and their children’s names, and made sure women felt welcomed.
The key angle was to provide a workout that would foster confidence boosting and strength training within a supportive community, as opposed to a competitive one.
Deanna says in a world where people are controlled by their phones, a sense of community is often missing from people’s lives.
The core essence of 30 Minute Hit is to create space within a society that tells women to be ‘ladylike’ where hitting the punching bag at their own pace can release tension, tone the body, build self defence skills, and confidence.
In frequent testimonials, women have reported experiencing powerful emotional breakthroughs as well as increased physical strength and mental endurance.
The powerful energy resonates, as 30 Minute Hit today has 23 locations in BC, 10 in Alberta, six in Quebec, three in Nova Scotia, and one in Manitoba. U.S locations have opened in Bellingham, Washington and Frisco, Texas, and plans are in the works to enter the Ontario market.
“For me, it’s never felt like work,” Jackson says. “As an entrepreneur, I think you need to experiment and try different things until you find what really excites you and turns you on and then that’s the thing that is usually best for you to pursue, because if it doesn’t feel like work, you’ll never stop working – and then you’ll have success.”
Written by Gail Johnson
Photography by Kassy Davis