Balega Media

Halifax Running Store Gets a Special Christmas Surprise

Halifax Speciality Running Store that is used to supplying gifts for others receives a surprise gift and award before Christmas.

By Noel Paine

Runners even in the age of on-line shopping need a local running shop to find footwear, clothing and occasionally helpful running advice. Many running stores are often the hub of running events in the community, either organizing them or sponsoring many activities.

Aerobics First

Aerobics First is one of these stores and is a small specialty running store on Quinpool Road in Halifax that has been at the center of the Halifax running community for over thirty-years. Just before the holiday season (it is not Christmas for everyone) the store received a special Christmas gift. I live and work in Ottawa but have a connection with this store, and feel proud to have the opportunity to highlight the store and staff. This blog is about runners and the running community and without our local stores and their efforts there would be few events, races and programs. This is a tribute to Aerobics First but also a salute to all those stores who support the Canadian Running community.

The front of Aerobics First in Halifax, Nova Scotia.Aerobics First was awarded the prestigious and highly sought after 2011 Ubuntu award for service and contribution to the community. The award is normally given to US stores; Aerobics First is the first Canadian store to receive it. The Ubuntu Award was created a few years ago by Balega, a US/South African-based sock company that decided it wanted to celebrate those who gave back to others as well as honouring its’ African inspired heritage. Balega decided to celebrate those stores that have truly demonstrated a sense of community with the deeds they have accomplished by giving back to their communities, changing them for the better and for the long term. 

Eric Gillis, a fellow East coaster who recently qualified for the 2012 Olympic marathon in London called the store, “the first place I bought a real pair of running shoes. I always stop by on trips into the city, atmosphere is great, and you’ll know they’ll have what you need. When I couldn’t make it I used to get shoes sent down on the bus, they were great folk making the extra stop on their way home, thanks guys!”


Ubuntu takes its name from a South African term, which essentially means humanism or shared worldview. In the past the winning store was invited to visit South Africa each year with Balega executives but this year they decided to invest $10 000 back into the community of the winning store.

The Aerobics First TeamThe Aerobics First team has always been extra friendly and helpful and they create a welcoming environment in the store, customers soon become friends. Many runners in the Nova Scotia running community have worked or run from the little house/store in Halifax. I tracked down two of the core staff and part owners to ask them a few questions over the holidays.

Luke MacDonald is friendly and always helpful but he is also one of the best salesmen I have ever met, always on the go, selling shoes and always a hand in some project. Before I forget to mention, in his heyday he was a 32-minute 10k runner.

 I asked Luke about the award, “It is a surprise and a great honour that myself and the rest of the team here at Aerobics First are still getting a handle on. Our customers have always been like family and it just made sense to give back to our community and even to spread the wealth to those who have less.”

 Dean Cheverie, a smile and laugh that wins over almost anyone, embodies what the store is about, running knowledge, patience, a smile that keeps you coming back whether you purchased anything or not.

 I asked Dean why Aerobics First goes above and beyond in not only being a great running store but being so highly involved in the community.

“From the very start when the place felt more like a housed than retail store, staff became like family and customers became friends. It only made sense to give back and become involved. You get back double-fold what you give.”

Aerobics First sponsors a youth running series, road races, triathlons, the fastest road mile in the country, helps support programs and not-for-profit programs groups including Start2Finish, Lov4Gambia, Run For Life, the Arthritis Society, Joints In Motion Marathon Training Program, PaxNorth Community Church used shoe donation and the Phoenix Youth Programs Running Program. This is in addition to the many grassroots athletes they help and support through sponsorship or other means. This special gift before Christmas has been a great surprise for Aerobics First staff, one that it will share with customers and community by continuing to give back to others and make a difference. Like Christmas, it is always about the giving and not the receiving.

Dean, Luke, Margaret, Dana and crew, run on my friends and keep up the great work!