Physical fitness trainer Monni Savory, far left, is now offering online training for her customers. (Submitted photo)

Physical fitness trainer Monni Savory, far left, is now offering online training for her customers. (Submitted photo)

Business notes: Trainer takes fitness online during COVID-19

Business notes

With many gym facilities in the Cowichan Valley still shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, one local fitness instructor has taken her sessions online.

Monni Savory is a trainer at the gym facility at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, but it isn’t likely that the gym will be opening any time before Thanksgiving due to the pandemic, if then.

So Savory has taken her personal and group training services online, and with many people normally heading back to the gym once their kids go back to school in September, she wants people to know those service are still available even if the gym they usually frequent remains closed.

She offers a variety of options, but the most popular are the 40-minute boot camps online via Zoom that people can do from their own homes, either live, or on demand when it suits them.

Savory’s prices are reasonable, at $28 a month or $4 a class, so that hopefully she can maintain her online enterprise when life returns to normal and people go back to the gym.

Savory can be contacted through her website at

“I’m attracting more people to my online fitness programs every month,” she said.

“It’s nice to see new faces and some old ones that I haven’t seen in awhile.”


Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre will be hosting its grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 12.

The popular market and garden centre, located near Westholme, was flooded and heavily damaged during the torrential rainstorm that struck the region last February.

The business had partly reopened recently, selling its own produce and some from neighbouring farms in an outdoor market on site when it was harvested.

But now Russell Farm’s market, grocery and deli are also open for the first time since the flood.

The market will be throwing wide the doors for its grand opening from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, and customers can expect great deals and specials.

The market will continue to run daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and will be closed Mondays.


The tables, umbrellas and hosts at the open air food court that was established in downtown Duncan this summer to assist local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic have been removed.

But Amanda Vance, executive director of the Downtown Duncan BIA, which is in charge of the food court in Station Park, said that doesn’t necessarily mean the food court is ceasing operations.

“We’re meeting with the City of Duncan over the next few days to determine what can be done to refresh the concept,” she said.

“The food court is over in its current form, but we’re trying to come up with something to replace it.”

With help from funding from the City of Duncan and the Island Coastal Economic Trust, the DDBIA set up the food court mainly to address restrictions on customer numbers in restaurants brought on by the health crisis.

More than 25 eateries in downtown took advantage of the outdoor eating venue, which featured an innovative online ordering option.

Vance said the food court was designed to run only for the summer season, and the grant money that helped the DDBIA operate it has run out.

“It was not meant to be outside all the time, and we’re now into September,” she said.

“We’re trying to come up with something different, and we’ll let the public know what is finally decided.”


The economy in the Cowichan Valley has experienced a modest improvement over the summer as the region continues to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, according to survey of local businesses.

But the survey, the second conducted of Cowichan businesses by the Cowichan Valley Regional District since the pandemic began last spring, suggests businesses should not expect to recover to pre-COVID-19 employment and business levels in the foreseeable future.

The survey, conducted in August, indicated that the region’s service sector has been hardest hit by the pandemic, particularly businesses that are heavily reliant on tourism.

The survey also showed businesses are responding to the health crisis with increased sanitation protocols and reduced operations, while struggling with consumer confidence.

“Despite this, many businesses are innovating, engaging more in the digital economy and introducing new products and services,” a statement from the CVRD said.

The full results of the COVID-19 Post Disaster Needs Assessment Surveys can be reviewed on the CVRD website.


In related business news, a new grant program called the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund that aims to help small Canadian businesses with their recovery efforts as a result of COVID-19 is now accepting applications.

Successful applicants will receive a relief grant of up to $5,000.

If awarded, a relief grant can be used for purchasing personal protective equipment such as masks, face shields, and latex gloves, renovating physical space to adhere to local, provincial or federal reopening guidelines, and developing or improving e-commerce capabilities for businesses.

The fund will be managed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the national Chamber network in support of other chambers and partners to help small Canadian businesses with their recovery efforts as a result of COVID-19.

Learn more about the program and eligibility criteria at


The Valley’s Unsworth Vineyards has a new website under development.

Although the web designers will be working on the new website for the next couple of months, customers will soon be able to enjoy a fresh, updated look, feel and flow of the vineyard’s new site.

In the meantime, Unsworth Vineyards has launched an interim, improved version of its online Shop, including a comprehensive e-commerce system, integrated shipping costs, and a more user-friendly shopping experience.

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