In the some five years that Ruthanne and Scott Roth have been offering several daily spin and Lagree classes at Revelry Fitness & Activewear in San Mateo, they’ve come to understand their clients are looking for more than just a workout — they’re also looking for a community.
Having hosted everything from child care to holiday clothing drives at their studio at 10 E. Third Ave., the couple knows many of their clients personally, decorating their spin bikes on their birthdays and, at times, helping them raise funds for causes they care about through themed classes.
It may seem like a lot for the owners of a fitness studio to juggle, but if you ask Ruthanne Roth, it was all by design. When she and her husband first came up with the idea to open their own fitness business years ago, she said they wanted it to become the neighborhood gathering spot it is now, a place where clients feel comfortable bringing their children and pets.
“We wanted it to be that kind of a place where people felt really welcome — they would see people they know and meet people they didn’t know,” she said. “That was what we wanted, we’re really proud of that.”
After a nearly five-year run in downtown San Mateo, the Roths are preparing to pump the brakes on their classes come Nov. 30, when they plan to offer their last class. Growing competition from the clustering of fitness studios on the Peninsula — which includes a SoulCycle that opened next door at 2 E. Third Ave. last year — a string of construction projects on East Third Avenue and an impending rent hike were among the factors they considered in deciding to shutter their business before the end of the year, said Roth.
Born and raised in San Mateo, Roth said she lived in New York for several years before moving back to Burlingame. Accustomed to taking up to five indoor cycling classes a week, Roth didn’t see as many options when it came to boutique fitness classes in San Mateo and soon became interested in starting her own small business in her hometown.
Roth, who has a full-time job running her own recruiting company, acknowledged their decision to close their doors for the last time was not an easy one, especially in considering the many relationships they have formed over the years. But she also recognized they achieved their goal of giving back to their local community.
“We really wanted to a way to plug into our community and also to create a community here,” she said. “But to all good things an end must come.”
Though the studio has ramped down its offerings in recent months, Roth said at its peak the business employed some 20 people and offered eight to 10 classes daily, starting as early as 6 a.m. and as late at 6:30 p.m. She said spin classes featuring music from the 1980s, artists like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake or the musical “Hamilton” often sold out, and it wasn’t uncommon for whole families to come to their studio on the weekends, leading them to offer child care so parents could attend class.
In the years since they started their business, Roth noted a number of fitness businesses have opened on the Peninsula, many of which are either franchises or backed by other funds. Among the many aspects of her business that are expensive and challenging to manage without economies of scale or a corporate infrastructure is recruiting and training instructors, said Roth, who noted she understands how difficult it can be for mom-and-pop fitness businesses to open and operate.
But she said she also understood that having a variety of fitness studios in San Mateo has benefited residents, who she knows often seek variety in their exercise.
“We’re not just competing against SoulCycle, we’re competing with people for that hour they have to exercise,” she said.
Having attended classes at Revelry ever since the studio opened, San Mateo resident Jane Epstein said she is still in denial about its closure at the end of the month. She said she discovered the studio shortly after she competed in the Boston Marathon and tried one of its Lagree classes, a Pilates class combining resistance and cardio training.
Motivated by the challenge of her first class, Epstein said she was immediately drawn to the warm atmosphere fostered there. She would eventually attend more than 500 classes at Revelry and meet several close friends there, noting she was especially touched when the Roths donated the proceeds of a Revelry class to a fundraising campaign she set up in support of cancer cures and treatments and in memory of her first husband.
“It just made me work harder,” she said, of her first Lagree class. “But really what Revelry came to be for me was a community.”
Roth said some loyal clients have wondered where they will attend classes after Nov. 30, but is confident they’ll find a workout that works for them. She said she doesn’t plan to reopen Revelry in another location, but the couple hopes to continue the retail component of the business. Though they will miss seeing familiar faces in their studio, Roth said she plans to stay in touch with many good friends they met through the business.
“We’ve met extraordinary people some who are going to be lifelong friends,” she said. “We have a lot of affection for the people who come here.”
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