'Little Sweatshop' fitness group not a business, woman says
A Sherwood Park woman is defending the not-for-profit fitness club she installed in her garage, although some of her neighbours believe she is breaking the rules.
Shelley Montemurro says she ran the Little Sweatshop club for eight years in the basement of her old home as a place for her friends to get fit while their kids played.
There were never any complaints until she moved her gym equipment to the renovated garage of a new home she and her husband bought as an investment property.
That’s when one of her neighbours made a complaint to the county.
Montemurro said she didn't notify the county about the gym because it's not a business – not yet anyways.
Right now, she said her friends can sign up online to join in on a workout for no cost, but in the future, she’d like to run her own real gym as a business.
To that end, she set up a website in order to get government grants and loans to support her dreams.
“I think one of the neighbours must have seen this website or heard about it or heard about our group and got on and found it,” she said.
“And just totally misunderstood what the little workouts that I do with my friends are compared to what I would love to do eventually in a commercial business.”
Strathcona County is now investigating the complaint. Montemurro says officials have met with her but she says she is doing nothing wrong.
“This is our private gym,” she said. “Nobody should care what we do."
However, some of Montemurro’s neighbours remain displeased with the addition, saying it will hurt property values and is in violation of county bylaws.
"The number of cars parked. 6 o'clock this morning there were seven of them. I've been logging the numbers,” said neighbour Jim Walsh.
Others don’t seem to mind as much.
"I think it's cool. It's nice just having other people in the community," said Mark Tomalty.
The Little Sweatshop’s Facebook page says that the ‘family-focused fitness community” offers classes in High Intensity Interval Training, adventure race training, martial arts and yoga.