The Zone Training was established in Waterloo in 2005.
We focus on developing hockey players and recreational skaters of all ages using our smaller scale ice surfaces and low student-to-instructor ratios.
In 2005, The Zone Training was established to develop programs for goaltenders and other skill-specific programs for players.
As the business grew in Waterloo, Derek had ideas to expand. In August 2014, an opportunity in Guelph arose when he found the ideal building for another location.
We plan to expand but it's difficult to find an industrial space that can fit a rink that is at least 50 feet wide. We're always looking!
In 2003, a small ice pad was installed beside Sport Zone in Waterloo at 92 Lodge St. This began as a hobby for a local businessman and operated in conjunction with Sport Zone until May 2005. At that time, Derek Obermeyer got involved and began building a variety of programs, mainly focused on goaltender training and a few other skill-specific programs for players.
The rink was only 85’ x 45’, so naturally the group sizes had to be smaller. What was realized is that, with smaller groups and quality instructors, players could develop at a quicker pace and get much more individual feedback in this environment than what was traditionally offered on larger surfaces with many skaters on the ice.
The programs started to evolve and we started to add Learn to Skate and Learn to Play Hockey programs as well as leagues in 2006. As the business grew quickly, Derek began searching for a larger location in Waterloo with the hopes to expand and keep up with demand. In early 2007, Derek found an industrial building at 483 Conestogo Road that was originally designed for a custom carpet company but was perfect to install an ice rink (not an easy task). A deal was eventually struck in May 2007, and construction commenced. After months of red tape and construction challenges, the facility opened in November 2007 for the first time and was welcomed by the KW community and surrounding areas. The first few years were extremely hard, with two locations operating not far from each other and a tough financial crisis hit many people during that time.
We persevered through these challenges and the business continued to grow slowly through 2008 – 2012 while we faced growing pains – as many new businesses do. It was around 2013 that we started to see the business flourish and start to really take off within the hockey community.
As business really started to grow in Waterloo in early 2014, Derek had a variety of thoughts on how to expand the business. Eventually, there was an opportunity in Guelph that became available in August of 2014, and once again got lucky to find an ideal building that could house an ice rink.
The planning began and a deal was done to expand into our second location in the South End of Guelph at 225 Hanlon Creek Blvd. We opened in March 2015, and the response was amazing from the Guelph community. Our programs took off right away and the business grew over the years.
Both locations offered very similar programming and, although opening a new location is always challenging, it was much easier with the knowledge gained from the many years in Waterloo and learning so much from that experience back in 2007.
Guelph and Waterloo were thriving until we ran into March 2020 and COVID-19. These were challenging and tough times for all, but we are happy to say we made it through successfully! This was mainly due to our many loyal customers who were very understanding of the situations we all faced and the uncertainty that surrounded everything during these times.
After getting through the pandemic, business started to normalize again in the Summer of 2021 and has been great ever since. Our Learn to Skate & Learn to Play programs continue to thrive and are some of the best you will find in the region. We owe many thanks to all the amazing staff we have – past and present. Our management team is small and we’ve always operated with great people, high-quality customer service and attention to detail.
We’re looking forward to many more successful years in Waterloo and Guelph and will continue to strive to create some of the best programming and league options in Southwestern Ontario. We have future expansion plans in the works, which will be dictated by the availability of a proper industrial space that can house another rink. We hope to bring our programming and knowledge to more communities in the future – so stay tuned!