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Meet Jen Sheppard and Mingo Dennis of Row House Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen Sheppard and Mingo Dennis.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Being an entrepreneur at heart and wanting to find a way to genuinely help people, we developed a profound interest in the fitness industry. Once we discovered Row House, we fell in love. There’s no other workout routine that engages over 85% of the muscles in your body while being extremely low-impact and available to people of all different fitness levels. This is by far the most inclusive and welcoming workout experience we’ve found. People of all ages, all walks-of-life, and varying levels of fitness can participate in the same class and pull together.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road has been relatively smooth, but not without its bumps. The two biggest hurdles we’ve faced thus far are financing and finding our location. The financing part, I think goes without saying, is one of the biggest struggles any small business owner faces. Things always come up and its absolutely paramount that you ensure you have enough capital to weather the storm. The timing of capital is also crucial, as you don’t want your financing to cause delays in your business development and/or opening. If it’s going to cause a delay, make sure you’re prepared for that and/or have a contingency plan. As for finding a location…well, as the old saying in real estate goes “location! Location! Location!” Finding the right location doesn’t simply mean the physical location. The cost of rent and other terms of the lease, such as parking, can be just as important as where your business is physically located. Luckily for us, when we found the physical location we wanted, we were able to come to very agreeable terms with the landlord and that started us out on the right foot.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Row House Santa Monica story. Tell us more about the business.
Row House is a boutique fitness studio centered around the rowing machine. We offer a variety of classes and they all feature components both on & off of the rowing machine, such as body-weight exercises, weighted exercises, and stretching. The rowing community has long realized something that many others are now becoming aware of… the rowing machine is perhaps the single most efficient piece of equipment in a gym. It’s so effective that it engages over 85% of the body’s muscles. Yet it’s so low-impact that virtually anyone can use it. That right there is one of the things we’re most proud of and that really sets us apart. There’s many boutique gyms out there that offer great classes and great results, but most seem to have a competitive atmosphere and utilize high-impact techniques. Both of those attributes really limit the type of member that can utilize their service.

At Row House, we create an environment of inclusivity, where everyone feels welcome. We’re authentic to the sport of rowing, so we all row in swing. That means at the same cadence as each another. While that might sound intimidating to some, it’s important to know that the rower only gives you what you give it, so you’re always in full control of the intensity of your own workout.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The fitness industry really seems to be on an upward trend, as more & more people are becoming health aware and looking to improve their lives. The biggest part of this upwards trend is in the boutique side of the industry. We think that’s because people want to be part of a community. One of the big differences between big box gyms and boutique studios is that there’s a sense of family. People really get to connect with our GM, our coaches and each other. To us, they’re so much more than just a member.

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