Rainier Beach’s “Favorite Gym” Celebrates 10 Years in the Rainier Valley

by Emily Williamson

Birthday Wishes from Rainier Health and Fitness members celebrating the gym's 10 year anniversary. Photo Credit: Emily Williamson.
Birthday Wishes from Rainier Health and Fitness members celebrating the gym being open for 10 years. Photo Credit: Emily Williamson.

“RHF! The best present to Rainier Valley!! Happy Birthday!” wrote one grateful member on the Rainier Health & Fitness’ marker board designated for birthday wishes.

This month, Rainier Health & Fitness is celebrating 10 years since Sili Kalepo, Ryan Schmid and Elisabeth Kingsley first gave the gift of an affordable fitness center to the South Seattle community. They began with 3 members in an 800 square foot building. Ten years later, the gym is located in a 5700 square foot facility and serves over 1600 members.

“I believe God gave us a vision and birth out of this idea is heaven,” said Sili, the remaining one of the three founders still professionally connected to the gym through his role at Urban Impact. “I feel like I am the lucky one of the three of us because I get to watch our kid grow up.”

Rainier Health & Fitness has indeed grown! In addition to increased space and membership, RHF now operate with six full-time staff, one full-time intern and one part-time trainer. Plus the gym offers scholarships to over two-dozen volunteers whose roles range from editing videos to helping run the front desk. Free-to-member group classes now include ZUMBA fitness, MixxedFit®, yoga, cycling, Pilates and turbo kick. They’ve also added RHF CrossFit, offering 28 classes weekly and a SilverSneakers® program for seniors with senior classes every weekday morning.

What gets the RHF staff most pumped, though, isn’t churning out bodybuilders or dramatic weight-loss stories (though they’ve witnessed plenty of those!), but seeing their community’s increased dedicated to making ongoing healthy lifestyle changes. Since opening in 2005, the gym has served over 10,000 individuals and currently averages 700 unique visits per month—that’s a 43% usage rate compared to the industry’s average of 7%! RHF’s high usage rate is proof that this gift of community fitness is one the South Seattle neighborhood has eagerly received!

This coming Monday, March 30th, RHF is celebrating it’s 10th birthday with a community-wide celebration! The staff would like to invite all to join in the day’s festivities, which will include:

6:30 – 7:30 AM FREE CrossFit Class

10:00-11:00 AM Senior Bring a Friend Hour

4:00-6:00 PM Snacks, raffles, prizes, drill team and more!

All Day: $0 sign up (RHF’s gift to their neighbors is free gym membership all day long. New members pay only their last month’s fee to join).

For more information and to RSVP, check out the event on Facebook.

Emily Williamson calls Rainier Health & Fitness her second home and not just because she works there! RHF is where members from all corners of her community gather to exercise, dance, stretch and get healthy. Emily is passionate about helping neighbors of South Seattle experience healthy lives through fitness and nutrition