Altadena Small Business Owner: Marketing is the Hardest Part

Revvel Revati loves fitness regimens, talking freely about emotional problems that manifest into physical pain, and hula hoops

By Justin Chapman, Altadena Patch, 11/26/2011

Since 1977 Revvel Revati has been trying different techniques to get in shape, becoming in the process a body work therapist, foot reflexologist, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and voice dialogue. This year it occurred to her that there are probably many more women like her who were in the same position. This gave her an idea for what would eventually bloom into her current small business, which she runs from home.
She started circulating the idea of holding exercise classes, to put it mildly, among women she knew as well as posting on the internet. To her surprise, several women showed up to the first class, on Aug. 15. Her classes, which are for women aged 40 and older only to maintain a certain comfort level, start slow and over time these women feel the results of their commitment combined with Revati's guidance.
She teaches her classes at 7 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in her backyard, indoor work out room, and healing room, where she works on eliminating a client's lower back pain. Each session is a $10 suggested donation. Her class size can range anywhere from three to 20 people at this point. Revati sees marketing as the biggest challenge to maintaining her small business.
"Here in Altadena it's not as tough to market because we do have the blogs," she said directly after acknowledging that marketing has been the biggest challenge in her quest to take one of her hobbies and turn it into a sustainable business. "Right now, I don't want to reach out to other neighboring cities. I want to stay here in Altadena. I'm just rebuilding my business to where I want to take it, and I'm going to be adding things such as cleansing and combining that with the workout regimen, so they eat well, they get sleep, and they move. They have to stay hydrated. These are all the most important things for women over 40."
When asked if she thinks she has a viable long-term business plan, she immediately said "Absolutely, because things are getting better now. People
say they don't have money but it's not true. There are people here in Altadena who have money. It makes no sense that we have to go down the hill to do things when we have these people right here who have businesses who are trying to stay alive. You know, support the small businesses here in Altadena. We've got to do it."
Trying to turn something you feel so passionate about into profit is a simultaneously rewarding and frustrating experience, she added, referring to her homegrown business. "It's very rewarding because when I wake up on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday I can't wait for these people to show up. I want to see all these women get better as they get older. And then they feel better about themselves and even start dating again after years of not trying."
Revatti said that hydration is the most important thing for these women while they are active.
"As we get older, we tend to lose joint mobility, coordination, balance, motivation, stamina, flexibility, strength, and we add weight," said Revati. "Every woman who comes to my classes has a different issue they want to improve, so sometimes we break up into smaller groups because I won't make anyone do something they don't want to do."
That being said, Revati guides and instructs them on their form and tries to push them to new levels that they never thought they could achieve. When they first started coming, Revati noted, the work they do now with sand bells, hula hoops, slam balls, lunges, crunches, and much more was way out of their element. So the first couple of sessions they just walked and then started, step by step, to try some of the other techniques. The sand belts and slam balls of varying weights, which members throw to each other in pairs or in circles, as well as the many hula hoops handmade by Revati, all increase hand/eye coordination.
When the session begins, the women walk around and stretch to warm up before taking on the heavy lifting equipment.
"A good way to get stronger is to do a few reps with heavier weights and then switch to smaller ones, which most say is like lifting air after the heavier reps," said Revati.
Throughout the session, the women talk and laugh with each other in a spirit of support. One of the attendees, who declined to be identified, said when more people show up, they get into larger circles, call someone's name, then hurl a sand belt or slam ball towards them, which is she said is always "a lot of fun, a lot of laughter."
Revati, now 63, said one reason she thinks she's getting a good response from older women is because they want to be in shape but they don't want to go to a gym, or "meat market" as they half-jokingly called it. They don't want to pay for it, they don't know how to use most of the machines, and they just feel generally uncomfortable working out in a public space with mostly men. Revati's program offers an alternative to that.
"One thing we promote here is laughter, because if it's not a fun environment, it's not fun to do this," said Revati.
She also makes and sells her own hula hoops with various designs and sizes meant for children and adults. She also uses them in her class regimen, which she says her students can learn easier than later techniques. She added that although most women haven't tried a hula hoop since they were kids, they pick up on it pretty quick because the way they use them in her class is so different from what they did as kids.
There are so many ways that Revati's students use her hula hoops. They can dance with them, do the traditional swirl and switch directions, take it off the body and jump through it, and by only using their hands they can twirl them in almost impossible synchronicity, almost like a rave dancer with glow sticks or a smooth, confident fire dancer.
Revati makes sure to keep an eye on all her students' progress, because as she put it, "If you can't do it, you can get frustrated very easier." She measures each woman's weight at the beginning of each session and keeps a log of it to show them physical proof of the progress they are making. She talks to them about food programs and diets, hydration, and exercises they can do at home.
To learn more about Revvel Revati's business, email her website at