Inclusive Hiring Works Out for a PEI Fitness Centre

The business 782 Fitness invites everyone to train, regardless of the level of their athletic skills. Thus, by creating an accessible environment for all, this business stands out in its philosophy to respect the limits of each person; the focus being on everyone having the pleasure and opportunity of getting in shape. 782 Fitness also attaches great importance to providing safe training spaces, whether in its Charlottetown Fitness Centre called CrossFit 782, or in its Stratford Fitness Centre: 782 Athletics. On the business’ web page, co-owner Brett Roberts noted that CrossFit helped him deliver on his passion and goal of connecting people and helping them improve their physical and mental well-being. Brett’s passion not only centers around helping his clients achieve their goals, but also extends to helping his employees.

782 Fitness has long been involved with community inclusion, having offered services to Special Olympics athletes, and recently expanded this commitment by becoming a champion for inclusive hiring through their collaboration with the Ready, Willing and Able program.

In December 2020, the COVID-19 context resulted in new provincial health requirements which required 782 Fitness to create a new cleaner position.  Brett saw this was an opportunity for inclusive hiring and chose to offer the job to an employee with autism, by partnering with RWA.  New employee David Ellis was subsequently chosen and works fully to ensure the health and safety of the work environment. David cleans the gyms, equipment and floors, at both locations from Monday to Friday. Brett is completely satisfied with the outcome, stating, “ David is doing great and he is an easy-going person. He is involved in all decisions related to his work.  He also participates in all team meetings.”

On the left, David Ellis, employee at 782 Fitness. On the right, Brett Roberts, CEO of 782 Fitness.

Brett goes on to say that hiring inclusively did not present any significant challenges in employee integration: “The entire team must adapt to the changes due to the growth of the company and in connection with the pandemic situation. David fits well into this type of situation. The effects on other employees, like gym coaches, are also very positive. This experience has allowed colleagues to reflect on their own lives and evolve as individuals by rubbing shoulders with different types of people. Members also enjoy training in an inclusive environment.”

According to Brett, thinking outside the box is the key to offering a hiring opportunity to a neurodivergent person, and growing overall as a more inclusive employer.  Brett concludes by stressing that all job seekers should have this chance. 782 Fitness has successfully demonstrated that fitness and inclusion can improve the quality of life of an entire community.