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Sisters find mall is good spot for fitness studio

Rochester Business Journal
September 7, 2012

When Christine Pilaroscia and Maria Ritzel left the Rochester Athletic Club in 2007, they decided to wait to start their own fitness studio.
 
After job hopping at several gyms in the area, the sisters finally felt confident enough with their experience to open Bounce Aerobics in October 2009.
 
"When you're in aerobics, it is really everyone's dream to start their own place. So I think we had the dream the entire time," Pilaroscia says.
 
Bounce Aerobics started in a rented dance studio down the road from the Marketplace mall, with just a sign in the window and advertisements on Craigslist. In February 2010, growth prompted the duo to begin talks with the leasing director of the mall, who owns properties outside it.
 
"We weren't thinking of going in the mall, and then he suggested it. We walked in here, and Christine's eyes just bugged out of her head," Ritzel says.
 
Although it was a mess at the time, Pilaroscia and Ritzel knew that the space was perfect, and they opened in May 2010.
 
Bounce Aerobics offers 47 classes a week, with Zumba, a Colombian dance fitness program, and Turbokick, a cardio kickboxing class, as the most popular. Ritzel says the smallest class has 20 to 30 people and the largest has roughly 80. The aerobics center employs a staff of 10 to 12 instructors, with a full-time front-desk employee.
 
Pilaroscia says the gym's location works nicely; Bounce Aerobics must remain open for mall hours.
 
"So even though we have no classes going on, it helps us grow-the fact that people can come in and talk to someone all day," Pilaroscia says.
 
The sisters offer a class in the morning, one at noon, then evening classes starting around 4:30 p.m. The clientele is a mix of ages, from 16 to 70. The gym also offers a children's Zumba class.
 
Most clients opt for a month-to-month, pay-as-you-go plan that has a three-month commitment, but Pilaroscia says Bounce Aerobics is careful not to tie down members if they do not want to be at the gym.
 
"It's a really different atmosphere than even what we're used to, and that's what we love about it," Pilaroscia says. "People from other gyms come in, and they are amazed at how vocal our members are. It is not that typical gym where you are on the treadmill and decide to take class that day. People are coming here just for this, just for us."
 
Pilaroscia and Ritzel pride themselves on being involved as owners; they still sign in members at the front desk or dance next to them in class. But they hope that one day the business will be as big a franchisor as Jazzercise.
 
"Our next venture is to clear out the top (of the space) and put bikes up there for cycling classes. We have tripled in the last year, and we're going to continue to remodel and expand," Ritzel says.

Megan Goldschmidt was a Rochester Business Journal summer intern.Small Business is a weekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at sjacob@rbj.net.9/7/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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