And you are?
Lieja Koemen, Co-owner of Rev 3K
By Megan Stacey, The London Free Press
Sunday, July 27, 2014 5:47:03 EDT PM
Lieja Koeman wears many hats.
Athlete, businessperson, group fitness instructor, Olympic shot putter, mother, and most recently, two-time local business owner.
Just a few months ago, Koeman and her two business partners opened a second location of their gym, Rev 3K, in north London.
The owners put a lot of thought into the name of their new venture before launching it 18 months ago.
“It’s Revolution 3000, so it’s a revolutionized approach to training and the 3,000 stands for 50 minutes. Fifty minutes is 3,000 seconds, and that’s how long the workouts are,” Koeman said.
A rapidly growing group of clients come to Rev3K multiple times a week for a 50-minute program, a group-fitness inspired class that incorporates cardio and strength training.
Needless to say, Koeman’s not getting a lot of sleep. Juggling all her roles is a 24-hour occupation, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We really care for our clients. We want that personal approach. We really want you to get the most out of it, whether you want to gain strength because you’re a professional athlete, or whether you’re a little older and just want to be fit for many years to come,” Koeman said.
In a market teeming with fitness options and new gyms popping up every day, Koeman believes Rev3K can go the distance.
“We stand out because of our drive,” she said. “Nowhere else do you see that passion, do you see that car in the parking lot at 5 a.m.”
By offering the program in a group atmosphere, the price stays low while the motivation and accountability stays high, she explained.
The classes have participants of every age and stage of life.
“Doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 70, we can scale anything to your level, to your motivation level, to your ability. We have pregnant women, we have older people, we have people who are rehabbing (injuries),” Koeman said.
Her community vision and emphasis on caring for everyone who walks through the door at Rev3K are goals close to Koeman’s heart.
“We really try to give our best to the clients and get the best out of them every day.”
So much so that Koeman makes a point of learning every single person’s name — even in classes with more than 50 participants.
“Everybody here in the gym, I know their name. And they’re always amazed like, ‘You know everyone!’ But this is my business, you’re my client. I have to know your name.”
And the community vibe seems to be paying off, if the new location and hundreds of loyal “Rev’ers” are any indication.
“The growth was just fun to see. We truly understand that it’s a community, and because of the people and their care for us we were able to expand, and spread our wings across the city,” Koeman said.
When she’s not working at one of the Rev3K locations, Koeman is looking after her two daughters, the oldest of whom was born during her athletic career.
Koeman was previously linked to London Olympian Jason Tunks, and the relationship is what brought her to Canada in 2002. The couple split in 2012. Her daughters were one of the reasons Koeman felt at peace with leaving her sport.
“Your priorities change,” she said.
At the 2008 Olympic trials, Koeman caught sight of her daughter as she stepped up for one of her throws.
“I thought ‘I should really be watching her myself,’ ” Koeman said. Halfway through her round, after three throws, she decided — in about 10 seconds — it would be her last professional competition.
She walked off the field and told her coach and supporters.
“But I was at peace with it,” Koeman said. “I never missed it one day.”
Her Olympic dreams began 20 years early in 1988, when 12-year-old Koeman watched the Calgary Winter Games from her home in Holland.
“I had to set my alarm, because it was in the middle of the night Dutch time. But the Dutch speed skaters did really, really well and I thought, ‘These people are in the Olympics, they’re such special people. I wish I could do that someday,’” Koeman said with a smile.
“At the time I was doing track and field, and I got better and better, and I started to say, ‘Maybe I can make it there.’”
Stepping into the Olympic village in Sydney in 2000 was truly a dream come true for Koeman.
“We went through the gates on the bus and I just thought, ‘I’m at the Olympics!’”
No other moments have come close, she said, despite amazing experiences in countries around the world, even competing in the original Olympia stadium in Athens.
“When you get there, it’s fulfilment. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is what I worked for, and I did it.’ And that’s what I’m trying to get across to my people here as well.”
It’s the tears of happiness she sees from her clients completing their first 10K run that keeps her going, running two new gyms and balancing a family at the same time.
It’s hearing from satisfied customers who just can’t get enough of Rev3K.
“You hear some really funny comments, (such as), ‘This is the last place I think about before I go to bed.’ And I think that’s so cute. But you know, people see results, people feel fit.”
Of course, even fitness trainers need their own exercise routine. Though Koeman’s not putting on an Olympic field or competing at an international level, she stays in shape by taking her business partner’s classes and running.
After all, she’s got to be ready to run the 10K with her clients at the end of every “Biggest Loser” competition run by Rev3K for clients looking to lose weight.
Koeman’s life has taken many twists and turns since her Olympic career. These days, it’s all about Revolution 3000.
“I never thought this is what I’d be doing,” Koeman said.
But though the roles may have changed and the priorities may be re-organized, Koeman still faces every day with the same attitude as the 12-year-old girl waking up in the middle of the night to watch the Olympics in her pyjamas.
“It was always about getting the best out of myself,” Koeman said.
“That’s how I’m driven in my business too. Just give it your all everyday.”
– – –
Fallon or Letterman: Fallon
Ski or beach: ski
Rock, country or big band: rock
iPhone or Android: BlackBerry
Romcom or action: romantic comedy
Hot dog or hamburger: hamburger
Coffee or tea: coffee
Fiction or non-fiction: non-fiction
Early riser or night owl: both
Tims or Starbucks: Starbucks
Drive, walk or cycle: run
Salad or fries: salad
Port Stanley or Grand Bend: Grand Bend
Dog or cat: dog
Beer or wine: wine
City or country: city
Education: Business administration degree
Family: Two daughters, Julia, 8, and Jenna, 4
Other jobs: Professional athlete, receptionist at a long-term care facility
It was never about competition for me. It was just about seeing how far I could go. We really care for our clients. We want that personal approach.