Powering through

Matt (left) and Mitch Benvie. Photo: Cooked Photography

Growing up, Matt and Mitch Benvie were passionate about sports and looked up to their coaches. The identical twin brothers both planned on becoming coaches and gym teachers. Instead, they found a new path as personal trainers and co-owners of Evolve Fitness.

“We’ve got an awesome community,” Matt says. “We’re kind of known as the gym for all fitness levels.”

While studying human kinetics at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Matt found an interest in personal training. He took classes and began personal training at different gyms, before founding Evolve Fitness in 2009.

At the time, his brother Mitch, who studied kinesiology at Dalhousie University, was teaching English in South Korea. Matt asked him to return home and hired him as a personal trainer. Mitch became a co-owner in 2018. 

Community is a huge part of their business. Evolve has a Facebook group with 1,000+ members where people support each other by posting recipes and post-workout selfies. 

Evolve started a fundraiser for local businesses affected by COVID-19. It created a 21-day fitness challenge open to anyone who donated $5–$500. Donations funded gift cards from local small businesses, which Evolve donated back as prizes for the 21-day fitness challenge.

Since it began, Evolve Fitness raised over $65,000 for local small businesses affected by COVID-19. While the fundraiser was initially intended to last 21 days, Evolve Fitness made it a permanent offer: people can sign up for $30 a month and 15% is donated.

“It’s just something that fit our core values and its been a really awesome experience,” Matt says.

The community also reflects this passion. Halifax Magazine’s Shine On contest invites people to nominate local businesses that deserve recognition for how they’ve persevered during the pandemic. Several people nominated Evolve.

“I have received so much support and encouragement from everyone there. Even during this time, they continue to offer programs and support,” wrote Marilyn Danells when she nominated Evolve. “Right now, I appreciate all this team has to offer, keeping us connected and physically and mentally fit.”

Evolve Fitness has some 700 clients between its Strawberry Hill and Bedford locations. Prior to the pandemic, it ran 150 in-person sessions a week. Now, 71 of those classes are online, including cardio training, yoga, and a boot camp program. 

Matt considers what the future will look like at Evolve Fitness. “I think the word hybrid is what you’re going to hear a lot of, and it’s going to be a mix of virtual and in-person,” he says. Before the pandemic, Evolve Fitness didn’t offer online sessions. (Matt says he’s tried it before but wasn’t successful.) Now, he says Evolve Fitness will offer online sessions indefinitely. For him, it’s about helping people build habits and get sustainable results.

“I’m a no negativity kind of guy,” he says. “There’s a lot of things we could be complaining about right now but there’s a lot of things we should be thankful for.”

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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