Fitness Corner Topp Performance

From left, Jesse and Sara Topp of Topp Performance, along with Holly and Frank Vanderzwet of Fitness Corner. Jesse and Sara are set to take over Fitness Corner's Port Elgin location October 1, 2020, while Holly and Frank will maintain their Southampton location.

Hub Staff

Fitness Corner Port Elgin is set to be taken over by Jesse and Sara Topp of Topp Performance. While maintaining their Southampton location, Fitness Corner's Port Elgin location will be the new home of Topp Performance effective October 1, 2020.

"We were looking to partner with [Topp Performance] because we heard [they were] going to do a 24 hour gym and we had also thought about doing a 24 hour gym," said Fitness Corner owner Holly Vanderzwet. "So we thought it might be good to collaborate."

Initially, the plan was for Fitness Corner to do a 24 hour gym downstairs while maintaining their classes upstairs, but when Jesse Topp saw the upstairs he thought it would be perfect for his martial arts, which is currently housed at Maple Square Mall, so he made Vanderzwet an offer.

"We've seen their business grow and we're quite confident that they're going to do fine," said Vanderzwet of the Topps. "They have the passion and the energy and the youth," she said.

"It's been a good ride for us," said Vanderzwet about Fitness Corner. "I've loved it, it's a 24 hour job but we're ready to slow down a little bit," she said.

Fitness Corner Port Elgin celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2017 while their Southampton location celebrated a decade in business in 2016.

Topp Performance opened their doors in the Fall of 2017, and in 2018 saw a financial boost at the regional Hawks' Nest competition.

Topp Performance is going to honour all of Fitness Corner's current memberships and a notice went out to Fitness Corner members September 1 notifying them of the change.

Vanderzwet called the change bittersweet. "We've been here 23 years," she said. Her husband and co-owner of Fitness Corner, Frank Vanderzwet did a lot of the handiwork at the Port Elgin location. "We've got a real emotional tie," she said.

Holly Vanderzwet found her beginnings in the fitness world when she rented a room at the arena and hosted a small ladies fitness group. Then when Lakeshore Recreation was built she got hired on to teach there. She spent 15 years as program director and instructor and following a flood that caused Lakeshore Recreation to be close down for a time, she partnered with a friend's nephew, Scott Christie, who owned the building that is now Fitness Corner Port Elgin. That was 23 years ago. Six years later the Vanderzwets bought the building.

Any classes that are currently offered at Fitness Corner's Port Elgin location (737 Elgin Street) will be moved to Southampton (497 Meadow Lane). "So all of our members that have a class [in Port Elgin] can transfer [to Southampton]," said Vancerzwet. "We're hoping for a smooth transition," she said.

Fitness Corner's weight room members are also welcome in Southampton but Vanderzwet suspects many will stay in Port Elgin because Topp Performance will eventually be 24 hours. "It will be great for shift workers," she said.

Jesse and Sara Topp are excited about the move. "I feel great," said Jesse. "There's going to be martial arts [upstairs], which is my jam, and the rest of it is Sara's," he said.

Sara Topp said they'll begin by carrying on where the Vanderzwets left off. "We'll just take right over and continue on as is," she said. "That's what people are comfortable with, then slowly start integrating our new equipment, deciding what we want to keep, what we want to replace, and have the 24 hour systems implemented in January."

Sara added that the hope is to have two separate entrances so the martial arts can remain separate from the gym. "If you get 20 or 30 kids through here it's going to be a little hectic," she said.

"It's a perfect fit for us," Sara added.