Across the DC Metro area, only 10% of businesses with 5 or more employees are owned by women.
That’s just wild.
There are a plethora of systemic and historical factors that go into this statistic. According to the DC Policy Center, women entrepreneurs are more likely to be denied bank loans ****or receive lower levels of credit when they first try to establish their business (and these barriers to entry are even further exacerbated for women of color). Until 1988, many states would not let a women apply for a business loan without a male relative as the co-signer.
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition also found that COVID-19 disproportionately affected women business owners, who were more likely to take on the majority of child-rearing responsibilities during the pandemic than their male counterparts.
At RTR Pilates, we are so proud to support our clients across all walks of life, whether they’re a small business owner, student, CEO, or full-time parent. We believe in creating supportive communities where individuals can thrive.
As a business deeply dedicated to our communities, we are thrilled to be included in Bethesda Magazine’s “Women in Business” **September issue, alongside other incredible women-owned businesses in the DMV area.
Our founder and CEO Reina Offutt started RTR Pilates in 2006. While she normally loves to work behind the scenes and let her classes speak for themselves, we’re so proud to see her recognized in the community, amongst so many other amazing entrepreneurs. And with 15 years of experience and a business with 5 studio locations across the DMV, we agree that Reina’s worth celebrating!
Alongside her profile in Bethesda Magazine, we sat down with her to talk about how RTR Pilates began, how it evolved, and the most important things Reina learned along the way. ✨ “I was raised by a single mom whose perspective was ‘let’s figure it out.’ I learned early on to see opportunities instead of obstacles.” – Reina Offutt
How RTR Pilates Began
Reina founded RTR Pilates more than 15 years ago as Potomac Pilates. As a young instructor, she observed the lack of studios in the Potomac area, and saw it as an opportunity to fill a hole in her community. So with her undergrad in electrical engineering and a passion for Pilates, Reina merged her systems education with the science of anatomy and Pilates in order to achieve the most efficient full-body workout possible, and leased a studio space in Potomac that would become RTR’s first location.
Every small business has its challenges (or, in Reina’s words, “opportunities”), and that includes RTR. Reina experienced first hand the struggles and nuances of success as a woman business owner. When she signed the lease for her first RTR studio, she couldn’t sign the lease on her own – her husband had to co-sign.
Early in her business, she struggled to balance the community-minded goals of her business with the concept of a profit-driven business. But as RTR grew and more studio locations opened, Reina found that smart business practices supported not only her family, but her entire community. A financially-sound business could do more to support its employees, give back to the community, and plan for the unexpected.
This became especially apparent in the past few years.
Between 2020 and 2022, 30% of fitness studios in the United States closed due to COVID-19, and more than 1.5 million industry professionals lost their jobs.
Creating a brighter future
Despite fitness studio closures across the DMV, all of our locations survived throughout the pandemic, and today RTR Pilates is now thriving and growing into a stronger, more mission-aligned brand. ✨ “You can teach a lot of things, but you can’t teach kindness. So when you find someone who is kind – whether it’s a peer, employee, or friend, hold on to them. The right people with find you if you lead with kindness” – Reina Offutt
This is also demonstrated in Reina’s efforts towards building a culture of growth and aspiration in her team. RTR Pilates has a comprehensive training program to prepare and empower instructors to succeed from day 1. Even after instructors graduate and begin teaching, Reina is dedicated to helping them succeed and build a sustainable career.
Moving forward, Reina anticipates an increased focus at RTR to foster upward mobility for her staff, including more benefits, higher pay, and a path towards growing a well respected fitness career.
Success is more than just one thing
✨ “As a woman and a mother of two teens, my success isn’t all financial. I will always measure my quality of life by the time I get to spend with those that I love. And I measure the success of my business by the happiness of my clients.”
We love that for Reina, success isn’t just one thing. It’s not just profit, or studio locations. It’s about the happiness of her clients, her ability to help her community, and the quality time she gets to spend with her family.
Like so many others in the DMV, Reina is really, really busy. To stay on top of her hectic life, Reina’s a big proponent of healthy habits, strong boundaries, so she’s not always accessible after work and on the weekends, and always has the tools on hand to adapt to a consistently inconsistent life.
Check out Reina and other women in business in Bethesda Magazine’s September issue!
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