Brave Culture | Fairview, AB
By Laura Hanna | Photography by Raven Creative | Group photo by Cassy Milner
When Leah Fox, 38, decided to open a health and fitness centre in Fairview, she knew it was going to be special.
“I’ve struggled with weight and mental health. When I was younger, I didn’t know why or how to help myself. I grew up as the ‘big girl’ and that was hard,” said Fox.
Now, with Brave Culture, Fox hopes to encourage and support others on their own health and fitness journeys.
“I married my high school sweetheart when I was 20, and we had a baby. When my daughter was nine months old, my husband passed away,” said Fox. “I found myself in a dark place. I knew I had to make a change.”
Fox moved to Vancouver and started her fitness journey.
“I spent a year getting my head on straight. I hired a personal trainer, started going to a gym and began learning about nutrition. It was fitness that really shifted everything for me. I started to feel better physically and emotionally,” said Fox.
Before Brave Culture, Fox was a competing bodybuilder and ran a local boot camp a few days a week.
“When I moved back to Fairview, I spent a few years competing in bodybuilding. I won an Alberta championship in figure,” said Fox. “During that time, I was having a lot of hormonal issues and struggles with my health. I learned a lot through that experience. I realized bodybuilding is more about look than health.”
From these experiences, Fox realized what she really wanted was to help people and contribute to the community.
“When I decided to open Brave Culture, I didn’t know if I could handle it; I didn’t know if it would take off. It’s been a process,” said Fox. “The inspiration to start Brave Culture came from a need and a want to add a healthy space with a community family feel. It was something I really wanted. I felt it was lacking here.”
Brave Culture is fully accessible 24 hours a day, offering a wide variety of health and fitness for ages 14 and up. Parents taking a morning class are welcome to bring their children to the gym’s play area.
“We are a family-friendly facility offering personal training, classes, yoga and intuitive health coaching. Our senior’s class is one of our busiest. We have massage therapists who run their businesses within the gym,” said Fox. “We host community events and workshops, and we work with sports teams.”
Brave Culture has a partnership with Northwestern Polytechnic—a local post-secondary institution—whereby students have access to the facility and its classes.
“Every month we host a class called ‘Restore and Chill.’ My sister and her friend come to sing and play guitar. It’s by donation, and we give the proceeds to local non-profit organizations,” said Fox.
When Fox was choosing the name for her business, she wanted it to reflect what she would soon be offering to the community. She chose “brave” for “ready to face or endure” and “culture” for “a collectively social group suitable for growth.” These two words represent her mission.
“Throughout my life, I’ve had to be brave—show courage and endure. With support from the community, I’ve been able to achieve personal goals, and I’ve made it through some of the darkest times of my life,” said Fox. “Brave Culture is exactly what I want to cultivate in my personal life and in the community.”
For the past 15 years, fitness has been an important pillar of strength for Fox.
“Health and fitness have helped carry me through heartache and difficult times. Fitness is a superpower that not enough of us tap into. I believe the foundation of a healthy lifestyle is to move our bodies and be conscious of nutrition, said Fox.
Since 2020, gyms have had to navigate pandemic protocols and have endured many closures. With restrictions lifted and gyms returning to regular function, Fox is excited to continue to nurture and expand Brave Culture.
“We added the 24-hour service to help support shift workers. We recently invested in some new equipment, which has been a great success,” said Fox.
This year, Fox has large ambitions, which will hopefully extend her offerings outside of the country.
“My big goal this year is to start offering international retreats for women,” said Fox. “It would be 7-10 days abroad with workshops and talks about nutrition, yoga and walks in nature.”
Fox hopes the retreats will give women the opportunity to nurture themselves.
“We tend to be in a bit of a bubble up north. With long and dark winters, it can be depressing. I want to offer a reprieve for women to focus on themselves and come back feeling renewed and refreshed,” said Fox.
Over the years, Brave Culture has hosted different community events that have helped raise funds for various causes and foundations.
“We did a colour run for two years. We’ve raised around $30,000 for the Kids with Cancer Society. We’ve also held an indoor ride fundraiser with bikes set up all over the gym. People got dressed up and put into teams. Our members and community helped raise nearly $15,000. Everyone who participated should be proud,” said Fox.