In our humble beginnings, Rainier Health & Fitness (RHF) was founded in March 3, 2005 in small 850 square foot space in the Hillman City Neighborhood of Southeast Seattle. RHF was started by three individuals from completely different backgrounds; Ryan Schmid, Elisabeth Kingsley and Tausili Kalepo. All three were passionate about health, breaking the cycle of poverty and building relationships through exercise.
Sili has been a Rainier Valley resident since his family emigrated from Samoa over 20 years ago. At a young age, Sili recognized the disparities in services and opportunities available in his neighborhood. His involvement in sports drew his attention to the community’s limited access to quality and affordable fitness centers. Sili believes that exercise and sports provide a vehicle to break down racial, socio-economic and religious barriers, while creating opportunities to build authentic relationships. Sili enjoys playing sports, riding his bike, and spending time with his family.
Ryan Schmid is currently the Co-founder, President and CEO of Vera Whole Health (winner, Seattle University’s business plan competition). After co-founding Rainier Health and Fitness, Ryan took much of what he learned about community, health and wellness, and seeing people make positive behavior change (not to mention bootstrapping a start-up), and launched this new venture. Developing Rainier Health & Fitness formed Ryan’s perspective in many ways and will always be one of his proudest and humbling experiences. “Most people told us we were crazy to launch a nonprofit health and fitness center in the Rainier Valley with no capital. While they were probably right, we believed and followed the vision God gave us and God provided.”
Ryan is also currently serving as co-founder and Chairman of the Board for Hope Central Pediatric and Behavior Health Clinic. He also served as the project manager/developer for 61 unit mixed-use affordable housing development, Emerald City Commons, which is also the new home of Rainier Health and Fitness. In 2001, Ryan earned his B.S. in Business with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Management from the University of Oregon. He graduated Magna Cum Laude, was awarded both the Entrepreneurship and Management student of the year awards, and was a Rhodes Scholar state finalist. Ryan was also a four-year letterman on the University of Oregon football team. He was awarded the Most Inspirational Player and the Scholar Athlete awards his senior year. Ryan received his MBA from Seattle University in 2007 with a certificate in Entrepreneurship. He was a Distinguished Graduate recipient and was awarded the Alber’s Service award and the McGowan Scholarship, and recently received the Outstanding Recent Alumni award from Seattle University. Ryan was a 2013 winner of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 under 40 award.
Elisabeth Kingsley is currently working for Starbucks Coffee Company in the Global Creative Studio. Elisabeth considers her time at RHF to be one of her most formative experiences. "I am and will always be so proud of Rainier Health & Fitness. I continue to marvel at the success and growth of our once tiny little gym. While we poured hours of work, brainpower, heart, and soul into making it what it is today it is the people of Rainier Health & Fitness who taught me the most and who make it one of the most special and unique places I know. I am forever grateful for the life lessons, stories, courage, laughter, influence, and perspective that the members and staff of Rainier Health & Fitness shared with and gifted me."
In 2005, Elisabeth graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a degree in Graphic Design. Elisabeth was a member and team captain of Seattle Pacific's nationally ranked gymnastics team. While co-founding RHF Elisabeth earned her MBA from Seattle University with a focus in Leadership Formation. She was also a recipient of the William G. McGowan scholarship.