Here at Edit Seven, you could say we’re a little fitness obsessed, and while we do enjoy the occasional yoga class to chill out, we’re most often drawn to high intensity workouts that leave us dripping in sweat by the end. Our latest obsession? Indoor rowing. Especially because, as Kristin Jeffery, the founder of SCULLHOUSE Rowing will explain below, it’s a full-body workout that can do wonders for you from head to toe, especially if you sit at a desk all day. Keep reading to learn more about Kristin, her business, and why you need to try this epic workout.
Business Name: SCULLHOUSE Rowing Inc.
Name and Title: Kristin Jeffery, Founder and CEO
Education: B.A., LL.B., LL.M
Edit Seven: Tell us about your business, what do you do?
Kristin Jeffery: SCULLHOUSE Rowing is a fitness studio offering a full body workout through group classes built around the indoor rowing machine (ergometer), and also utilizing dumbbells, bands and bodyweight exercises. Classes are high-intensity, high-energy but low-impact, and provide total body conditioning.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
KJ: I had been working as a corporate/commercial litigation lawyer on Bay Street for six years, when I heard about the emergence of indoor rowing gyms in the United States. I was experiencing first hand and also seeing in my colleagues the effects of long hours sitting and the loss of core and back strength. Indoor rowing is the perfect solution – it is highly effective in torching calories, improving cardio and functional strength, and counteracting the negative effects of long hours sitting. With my background as a former university and Canadian national team rower, I had the knowledge and passion to bring indoor rowing to Toronto and share my favourite sport with the larger community.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
KJ: I love that SCULLHOUSE is a positive and uplifting experience in our customers’ day. Many of our clients tell me its the best part of their day, and that they love the community we have created at SCULLHOUSE.
I also love the way SCULLHOUSE has help build confidence in our clients. Some of our clients were worried about whether they could complete a single class when they first came in the doors at the studio, and have gone on to row a full marathon (over 42k) and race at the Canadian Indoor Championships. I’m inspired every time someone tells me they are more fit and feel better, or that they have noticed they have better posture when they walk, and sit. People have improved their daily life through increased confidence, strength and endurance.
E7: What makes your business special?
KJ: SCULLHOUSE is special because the workout is unique and you row as part of a team. It is the only dedicated indoor rowing gym in Toronto. In our classes, you are part of a crew of people working together, rowing in unison and both contributing to and gaining inspiration from the larger group energy, while at the same time you’re completely in control of your own exertion. It combines the best aspects of being part of a team with the individual challenge of solo sports. We have had classes where a beginner has rowed together with a former Olympian, and they both had a great time and a great workout!
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business?
KJ: I’ve learned that sometimes the challenges you expect are not the challenges you encounter. Entrepreneurship seems to have a way of throwing curve balls when you least expect it. I’m learning to roll with it – enjoying the good days and remembering that the adversity will pass and often offers a good lesson.
E7: What made you fall in love with rowing?
KJ: I fell in love with rowing when I tried out for the novice rowing team at Western University. I’ve always loved the water. There is something peaceful about being on the water, pushing yourself to your limit before other people are even awake. Rowing can be physically and mentally very challenging, yet it often takes place in such a serene environment. You’re on the water watching the sun rise, burning the mist away as you’re completing your workout. It’s absolutely beautiful. I’ve always loved the way the rowing stroke feels, the power of the drive balanced perfectly with the control and grace of the recovery. Indoor rowing doesn’t have quite the same scenery, but I still love the rhythm of the stroke and being part of a crew of teammates pulling together in perfect synchronicity.
E7: Why would you recommend a rowing working out to someone who has never tried it before?
KJ: Rowing is one of the very best exercises for people because it is highly efficient in improving aerobic and anaerobic conditioning and is a the perfect solution to long hours of sitting or standing that many of us have in our daily lives. Rowing is not only your cardio, but it is core building, strengthening, all while burning more calories than most other forms of exercise. At SCULLHOUSE, we teach proper rowing technique and we combine mat work exercises to keep things interesting and ensure our customers get a total body workout.
E7: What are some of the physical benefits gained from rowing that you feel are specific to this type of workout?
KJ: Rowing uses over 85% of the muscles, and rowers have among the highest lung capacity and VO2 Max volumes of any athlete. Just look at the bodies of an Olympic rower! Essentially, they are among the most fit athletes in the world. Beyond increasing your overall fitness level, rowing increases the strength of your legs, core, back, arms and shoulders, all at once! It is truly a total body workout, especially combined with our mat work using body weight, dumbbells and band exercises.
E7: Who is best suited to rowing? Is it meant for a specific level of fitness, type of physique, or age group?
KJ: This is the absolute best thing about rowing – it’s great for EVERYONE! Regardless of your fitness level, physique or age, rowing will benefit you. We have everyone from ex-Olympic athletes to complete beginners, 20-somethings to 70-somethings, runners, triathletes, swimmers, you name it – all attend our classes. The rowing machine (or erg as it’s called) responds to how much power you put into it. The harder you’re pushing and pulling, the heavier the load feels. Also, because it is low-impact, we aren’t restricted to any particular build of body or age.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
KJ: I would tell people to expect things to take longer than you thought, expect to face hurdles you didn’t anticipate. If you expect a certain amount of delay and challenge, when it does crop up (as it will), you won’t feel defeated or side-lined. Instead, you will know that it is all part of the rollercoaster of starting a business. And always . . . STAY POSITIVE!
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
KJ: So many things actually . . . but I’m not sure they would have changed much of how I approached starting SCULLHOUSE. It just would have been nice to have a better picture of what was going to happen in the first year or so of the business.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in the fitness and gym business to prepare for?
KJ: We have struggled with being located in a shared condo/commercial space. Some of our neighbours have been fantastic and have joined our community, and some have been very unwelcoming, unfortunately. I would highly recommend to other fitness entrepreneurs to thoroughly investigate their proposed location.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
KJ: Organization is a constant struggle for me. My current strategy is to create lists that are prioritized in terms of when they need to be completed by. I’ll let you know how it goes! I have an easier time with balance and motivation. When I’m at SCULLHOUSE I’m totally and completely ON. I’m giving my energy to everyone around me and I’m motivated to do it because I love the community we are creating, I love the workout we have created. As a result, I need down time to recharge my batteries. Because my day is so high energy, my down time is spent reading, walking my dog and even a Netflix binge or two.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
KJ: My biggest role model is my Mom. She raised my brother and I on her own, working two jobs and never felt sorry for herself. She taught me what working hard looks like, but she also taught me to be kind and compassionate, and that small acts of kindness are never wasted effort. I’m also very lucky to have a supportive husband, and a business partner and dear friend, Liz Kowpak.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
KJ: My husband comes to most of my morning classes and rows them with me. After class, I get a tea and he gets a coffee and we sit together at the corner coffee shop. It’s a short date that we have every day, but its a precious time we share together with our busy schedules.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
KJ: Inspiration often hits me randomly. I can be in the middle of a workout, or walking my dog and get an idea.
E7: What can people expect when they visit SCULLHOUSE?
KJ: People can expect to be greeted with a smile and called by name. They can expect a challenging workout with an instructor who is motivating and encouraging. They can expect to feel welcomed into a friendly and warm community of like minded people where attitude gets dropped at the door and everyone is there to sweat it out and have a good time.
E7: Who is the SCULLHOUSE client and why should they check out your studio?
KJ: Our clients are anyone and everyone who is interested in becoming more fit, stronger, more confident and more flexible. People should come to SCULLHOUSE because it is a perfectly efficient and total body exercise. Our rowing classes are cardio conditioning, strengthening, and core building all in one! We’re also super friendly and fun!
For more information on SCULLHOUSE, click HERE!
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)