KITCHENER -- A restaurant and fitness studio in Kitchener are among the businesses bouncing back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alana Arthur, the owner of Freedom Cycle, says they’ve found success thanks to a few key changes as well as customers wanting to support a Black-owned business.

The studio has been hosting outdoor spin classes and was able to reopen during stage two of the province’s plan.

“It’s a nice alternative for people to be out, enjoy the summer, the breeze, and just be free,” said Arthur.

She adds that her Trinidadian heritage celebrates freedom through Caribbean Carnival music, something that’s often played during their spin classes.

“It shows our culture and shows the people who we are,” said Arthur.

The outdoor classes started as a pop up with just seven bikes, which they say were waitlisted all the time.

Since then, demand has doubled and every single class is booked weeks in advanced.

Arthur says the business initially struggled to fill 25 per cent of in-studio classes when they opened in November, citing that they were new to the city and didn’t know a lot of people.

“People were ready to come out again [during the pandemic],” said fitness instructor Nicole Brown Faulknor. “There’s been a shift in the community in a way that people wanted to try something new.”

Freedom Cycle is currently capped at 14 bikes, but Arthur says they are thinking about doing pop ups in the city that would include all 24 of their bikes.

Rider Danielle McGuire says she finds it important to put money into something she believe in.

“Black-owned businesses make up the vibrancy of the community,” said rider Carla Beharry.

Mark’s Caribbean Kitchen, another Black-owned business, has also seen growing support.

“It’s important to support on all fronts,” said customer Alkris Warren. “It’s just really good food too.”

Chef Mark Vaughn says there’s been a 40 per cent increase in sales from customers ordering take out, delivery, and returning to eat on their patio.

“Gradually, this patio has grown a lot,” he said. “A lot of people have been coming out.”