When Ruthanne Roth moved back to California’s Bay Area after time in New York City, her keen business sense quickly picked up on a lack of boutique fitness options in San Mateo. Since she had grown up around there, she not only wanted to open a business based on contemporary fitness trends, but more importantly, she also aimed to create a community hub in her home base.
Her solution? Revelry Indoor Cycling and Fitness, a studio offering TRX, Lagree Fitness method (Pilates meets cardio and toning on a Megaformer machine) and indoor cycling, three modalities Roth thinks hit all the angles for diverse, effective workouts. Roth, who also runs her own recruiting firm while staying at the helm of Revelry, talks to SBS about handling multiple businesses at once, the joys—and rules!—of working with your spouse and building your community crew.
SBS: You run two booming businesses at once! What would you say to someone aiming to do the same?
Ruthanne Roth: First off, think about why you want to do it and what’s driving you. Fitness is a great business to be in: It’s happy and healthy, but it’s a lot of work. It’s very easy to underestimate the behind-the-scenes that you don’t see as a consumer.
Also, make sure you’re surrounded by a great team. When they say it takes a village, it really does. When you do so, you have great instructors and staff. Then, the clients really care about us as people, so if you bring them in, provide a great experience and make them feel loved, they do a lot of the marketing for you. This studio is not about me or my husband. It’s about the people who come in and our team…our community.
SBS: How do you create this community?
RR: It comes from creating an environment that’s warm and welcoming for everybody. I think of myself as a hostess of a dinner party, helping to facilitate introductions. For example, we have a big bag of dog treats. It sounds like a little detail, but our clients bring their dogs by and the dogs love it. They return for those treats and feel welcome. Doing little things like that make it accessible for everybody—including dogs! We also do a lot with schools, like donating to auctions. It’s easy for studios to say we are involved with the community, but you must put your money where your mouth is!
SBS: Since the instructors are such a key aspect of this community, what do you look for in instructors?
RR: We look for instructors who want to be part of the community. We’re not interested in those who think this is a transaction…who teach their class, run out and fail to invest the time to know their students. We hire people who are great team players and care about the success of everyone, which is why we don’t offer incentive programs (for extra money in return for full classes).
SBS: What’s your own personal blend of fitness you find most effective?
RR: When you’re running two businesses it’s actually funny: My friends ask me if I’m in the best shape ever, but as they say, sometimes the cobbler’s children have no shoes! I find the time, though! I get on the bike at least once a week. I think having that time to check out and be in a dark room with no cell phone allows your mind to calm down. It’s mentally and physically healthy. I also love the Lagree workout for full-body conditioning and strength. There’s an infinite amount of things you can do on the machine, it’s appropriate for all fitness levels and it’s no impact.
SBS: Since Lagree is new to many people, what’s your advice for newbies, especially in reference to the Megaformer, which is similar to a Pilates machine but much larger and more complicated?
RR: First, try to take a basics class if it’s available. The instructor will walk you through working with the machine, what the methodology is and how to change your springs. If you can’t do so, come early or ask the studio owner. Then, just remember that over time, once you learn the names of the moves and become more familiar with the machine, you will be able to follow more easily. The workout doesn’t necessarily get easier, though! It’s always a great challenge!
SBS: What’s your advice for new fitness entrepreneurs?
RR: First off, hone in on what you will offer. From a marketing standpoint, it can be overwhelming for customers to understand who you are if there are too many options. We learned that and take that very seriously now. Also, take the time to build a network of studio owners who you trust, and be willing to help them. I know great people to call and bounce ideas off of around the country. The good karma of helping others will return to you.
SBS: Outside of fitness, what do you need to handle all your spinning plates?
RR: For me, sleep is the greatest common denominator for taking care of myself all around. When I don’t get good sleep, everything else seems to deteriorate. Also, I just started mindfulness practice. I’m reading David Gelles’ Mindful Work. I’ve always been a big believer in mind over matter so I’m trying to incorporate it into my life. Finally, I think it’s essential to unplug, even if it’s just simple things. So, for example, when I walk the dogs I don’t bring my phone with me. My best ideas come up when I’m not mentally distracted by my phone.
SBS: What’s your advice for being in business with your spouse?
RR: I’m lucky in that my husband is the perfect partner to me. Talk about surrounding yourself with the right resources! He’s very organized and analytical, whereas I’m more of a creative brain. Having a partner that compliments you is key.
If you start a business with your spouse, you have to create time off and use self-imposed rules, like you only talk about work up until an agreed upon point. My husband and I may disagree on certain things, and then we remember we can argue about it for X amount of time, and then it’s over. You have to be disciplined.
RUTHANNE’S SBS MANTRA:
Be Grateful is my favorite mantra. We come into the studio and maybe we’re stressed, running late or your kid is sick with a cold. But in the big scheme of things, we’re lucky that those are the problems we have and that we have somewhere to go to unplug.
RUTHANNE’S CALI ROSTER:
- Healthy Restaurant Pick: The Plant Café Organic in Burlingame
- Splurge Restaurant Pick: Stella Alpina Osteria and Porterhouse
- Favorite Cocktail: A Manhattan with Maker’s Mark and real brandied cherries
- Favorite Workouts: Pure Barre, Basecamp Fitness (for a cross-training workout in 35 minutes) and walking the dog
- Favorite Quote: “80 percent of life is showing up.” -Woody Allen