Spotlight: Row House Offers Fitness Options That Work for Nearly Everyone

There are tons of fitness studios available around the U.S. But many offer workouts that are geared toward a specific group or skill level.

Luckily, Row House offers workouts that can benefit nearly anyone. The owners of franchises in the Ashburn, Shaw, and West End areas of Washington D.C. bring that level of inclusivity to every workout. Learn more about their story in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

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What the Business Does

Provides a fitness studio for rowing workouts.

Co-owner Barry Carpe told Small Business Trends, “Row House is a boutique fitness studio that focuses on the rowing modality, a full body workout for endurance AND strength.”

Business Niche

Providing a workout that works for nearly everyone.

Carpe explains, “In addition to our full body, low impact, high intensity, single-station workout, our mission is to make available a workout for all fitness levels and body types. Row House is an example of true inclusivity in a class of up to 25 members, with approximately 35 classes weekly, and five class types where we are “one boat/one crew” during which each member contributes to the boat meters.”

How the Business Got Started

To pursue a longtime dream of running a business.

Carpe says, “It started with Row House’s founders from New York, who became successful and joined forces with Xponential Fitness, creating franchise opportunities.

“We had always wanted to start our own business so throughout our marriage (23 years now), we would bounce ideas back and forth, but nothing ever really stuck or time with our kids in sports took priority.

“In 2016 we started seriously thinking about business ideas and Barry was introduced to a franchise broker. He mentioned Row House to Barry, Barry discussed with Ellen who had been in/out of the fitness industry since 1997. Ellen attended a Discovery series at the Xponential HQ, fell in love with the mission, modality and the music! And the rest is history!”

Biggest Win

Being a big part of the community.

Carpe says, “The biggest win for us is being recognized and honored by our members, crew and local community as the Best in Ashburn three years running (since our first year open). We had always wanted to run a local business that would touch our community. With full-time careers in digital media/technology, we manage teams that define and build digital for online experiences. So, to own a brick and mortar business where we could truly contribute to our community on several levels was a top priority.

“With the franchisor’s support and continued guidance, we are able to join with non-profit organizations, school programs, and other local businesses to keep fueling the mission of our brand into the community.”

Biggest Risk

Taking over two additional studios in Washington D.C.

Carpe explains, “We were contacted by the Row House President in summer 2022 about the opportunity to take over the DC studios, as he knew we had hopes to expand and saw success with Ashburn in such a short time. With guidance and support, we have recently opened the Shaw studio, and will soon open West End. Both conveniently located near metro stations and high volume areas that are thriving.”

Lesson Learned

Hire the right people.

Carpe adds, “We have an amazing staff now for all three studios. But baking in the extra time it takes to recruit is always more than suggested. We always want to ensure that our crew has the same work ethic and values we do.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Sales training.

Fun Fact

They take milestones seriously.

Carpe says, “We fully embrace our members’ milestones. From reaching 50K meters within four weeks of membership or reaching one million meters, we honor our members’ commitment to their wellness and support them always! We take photos, give them gifts for their milestones and celebrate after class with potlucks from other members who have become friends through working out at Row House.”

Favorite Quote

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it to happen, others make it happen” — Michael Jordan.

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Image: The Row House, Barry and Ellen Carpe

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

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