How often do we find an opportunity that can change our lives completely? And when we do, how often do we find the courage to take it? For master franchisees Sherry and Sean, going into business with Oxygen Yoga & Fitness was exactly that. And from listening to Sherry and Sean’s story, it’s clear that far more than two lives were changed by their journey with the Oxygen Yoga & Fitness community.
Sean first discovered yoga when recovering from a back injury. A friend suggested trying a yoga class and Sean ended up finding a passion for the practice which extended far beyond the benefits for his injury.
“I connected with it more on the mental health side”” Sean explained. “Like I wasn’t worried about work; I wasn’t worried about the kids […]. It was kind of my escape. And so I connected with it and became friends with the owner of the studio there and really saw how much of a community they could create”.
Years later, when Sean and Sherry were considering retiring, that community stayed in their minds. They went to one of the first franchise shows that Oxygen Yoga & Fitness attended in Ontario, where it occurred to them that opening a franchise could combine Sherry’s business background and Sean’s interest in yoga. But, that’s not to say it was a simple decision for them. Running a franchise meant giving up their pensions and their original plan for their future in order to embark on a new career path.
“For us, it was a leap of faith. We didn’t have a plan B really” Sean explains. And making this sort of leap may not have been the sort of decision that would come naturally to them. However, after researching the business model, consulting family, and reaching out to friends to learn about their experiences with Oxygen Yoga & Fitness, they still decided to make the leap.
For Sean and Sherry, joining the Oxygen Yoga & Fitness community was an opportunity to change their everyday lives drastically. Before opening a studio, Sean worked for the OPP and Sherry worked as a nurse.
“We never saw each other” Sherry explained. “We literally hugged bye in the driveway because our shifts were opposite”.
Switching career paths not only affected the amount of time Sean and Sherry could spend together but also their typical daily interactions. Sherry explained “We worked obviously in high stress jobs. We saw people on their worst day. And for us to be able to do something that made it their best day was much more rewarding for us”.
Now, Sean and Sherry hold many pivotal roles within the Oxygen Yoga & Fitness community. They serve as the master franchisees for the Durham region out to Kingston. They are also a part of a group of six master franchisees who own the studios in South Central Ontario and the Greater Toronto area, with the exception of Toronto proper. They also both have expanded roles with corporate, Sherry on the corporate training team and Sean as a construction liaison. Throughout all these roles, it’s clear how important it is to Sherry and Sean that they are able to, as Sherry puts it “be able to change people’s lives how Oxygen has changed ours”.
“It has completely changed our lives,” Sherry explained. “Sean was able to retire from OPP, I’m non practising now. And it’s just a much better lifestyle and being able to spread that and have them give back to the members and what we were able to do as well and train them to be able to do that properly. When we first opened our studio in Oshawa it was just, it made me cry so many times when people come in and say thank you so much for opening I needed this so bad and to have that was just so gratifying”.
Sean shares “What we’re proud of has been our growth but it’s also been our level of service and our connection to our franchisees […] All of the existing [Ontario] studios at one point came to us to see what a studio could look like”. . In fact, almost all of the current franchisees in the region have been previous members or instructors at Sherry and Sean’s studios. Sean and Sherry are able to guide franchisees through each step of their businesses, from starting construction plans to creating community ties.
“They basically saw what we did and saw that this can be a sustainable business and a passionate business and we still have those relationships from the people that toured us when we were just opening” Sean explained. “One of the best operators in the whole chain – she’s a top five studio consistently – started as almost a day one member”.
Sherry expanded, “I worked with her in the hospital as a physiotherapist and she came in just after we opened and took one class, came out, and said I’m in”. That member got her 200 hour during the pandemic, became an instructor at the North Oshawa Studio, and then bought the Bowmanville territory with her husband. Most recently, she bought the Oshowa studio as well. Sherry shared “She has taken that studio that we knew could do so well and in May she was number one in canada for revenue”.
Stories like this one are what are most rewarding for Sherry and Sean. They’ve been able to combine their past experiences, their passions, and their desire to connect with the community to help others experience the possibilities of running a franchise like they have.
“All of the franchisees, we see how it impacts and changes their lives” Sean shares. “They’re becoming passion projects for them. We’re able to support them”.
“To be able to change their life to be successful with it is so gratifying for us” Sherry adds. “We’re just regular people. If we can do it, you can. You just have to follow the processes. That’s really all it is. The model is sound”. Sherry and Sean are looking forward to many more upcoming studio openings in upcoming months as well as continuing growing the Oxygen Yoga & Fitness brand and community. You can try Sherry’s favorite class, Yang Yin Yoga, or Sean’s favorite class Flow at your local studio.