“I used to be so focused on the grind”
Arianne Liu, co-owner of Dyer Fitness, reflects on kickstarting her entrepreneurial career and seeing the finish line at CapU
RACHEL D’SA // ARTS AND CULTURE EDITOR
Arianne Liu is not your average student. On top of a full course load, the Capilano University business student works at Lululemon, manages her personal website and blog, operates a fitness training service called Unfold Movement and co-owns North Burnaby fitness centre Dyer Fitness. Dyer Fitness saw its start at a Steve Nash Fitness World and Sports Club. Liu had already been working there for a couple of years when her current business partner, Johny Dyer, and then-personal trainer, began asking for her take on possible business tactics. While in her second year, Dyer proposed the partnership.
Though Liu doesn’t see the business as the be-all, end-all of her career, rather as part of her journey – even describing it as her “child.” With Dyer Fitness, she ensures that each individual experience the safe and social environment that the recently rebranded establishment has to offer.
“What really pushes people to thrive as human beings, is having someone hold you accountable and being in an environment where they feel safe to grow, workout, make mistakes – kind of like life. The value we’ve added in that aspect has allowed us to sustain our business,” she said. While Liu looks forward to seeing the business grow, she wants to make sure that the service does not become diluted, as is the case with many other fitness centres.
Liu has managed to find and maintain a healthy balance of work and pleasure, keeping her afloat. Though she noted that during the transition of making things work, aspects of her life were bound to take a hit. She has since found the perfect lifestyle blend that guides her priorities. “I definitely realized the importance of having a support system and making time for that, and kind of nurturing that part of myself. Before, I used to be so focused on the grind, you know ‘study, do this, do that,’ and I never made time for my friends and family or extracurriculars,” she said. “What helped me, I feel, was just making time for myself, and listening over time to my body to understand what works and what doesn’t in terms of ‘is it making me happy?”
The established entrepreneur believes that she was able to build a foundation for her discipline for training and taking care of her body through her time as a competitive dancer in classical ballet. “I didn’t understand my body, when it was changing when I was younger, like ‘oh I’m getting boobs! Where is this coming from? Just being really straight – when you’re a dancer you do so much cardio that I think my body was delayed, so I didn’t really start gaining weight till I was like 15 or 16, and I had no idea what was going on, and that’s when I started getting serious about weight training and nutrition,” she said.
Throughout her journey Liu has been met with challenges, but her determination has led her to achievement with the help of a strong support system. Taking after her mother, who too was a courageous, determined woman, she acknowledges her mother’s strength as a single parent. “I notice sometimes that I take things for granted and when I think back to how far she’s brought us, it reminds me of where I came from, and that installed one of my values, which is practicing gratitude every day,” she said.
As a founding member of the Capilano University Marketing Association (CAPUMA), she has also been through thick and thin with her time at the University. She does, however, feel that the school has positively impacted her. “All the instructors have helped me. When I needed to do something different, it was my peers and friends at school that pushed me, and that’s how I even got into being President of the Marketing Association,” she said. “I feel like everything I am, outside of what I’ve learned from Dyer, is from Cap, and I know that sounds so cheesy, but Cap is frickin’ amazing.”
Now in her last semester, after working eight years for her degree, Liu is more than excited to jet and focus on her new goals. She just hopes fellow students can find their passion for education in post-secondary, in the same way she has.