Claudine Nicolich, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, always had a dream of opening her own fitness studio. As a part-time fitness instructor, Claudine spent most of her days on the road, and though she loved helping her clients, the back and forth was taking its toll. So when her boyfriend suggested she launch her own business and he would help her build it, she leaped at the idea and opened Revive Studios NJ in Budd Lake in 2019. A proponent of salt therapy, Claudine wanted others to reap the health benefits and offered a unique combo of fitness studio meets well-being with a salt cave and an infrared sauna. Her business was so successful that she opened The Salt Shoppe in Chester, a therapeutic Salt Den, Infrared Salt Sauna, and boutique of unique health and wellness products. We caught up with this Budd Lake-based mom of 3 to find out the benefits of salt therapy, the one thing she wishes she had before she started her business, and her family’s go-to spot for mountain biking in NJ.
Tell us a little bit about your background? I’m a divorced mom of 3 adult children, Vincent, Kristen, and Jamie. Though I was born and raised in Budd Lake, I moved to Succasunna when I was married and raised my kids there. After I divorced, I decided to move back to Budd Lake—it’s a great town, my parents live close by, and the fact that I already had a network of friends, peers, acquaintances, and colleagues made it an easier transition than it might have been elsewhere.
What did you do before opening up Revive Studios? Though I’ve always been very creative and love talking to people, I have a natural affinity for numbers, so I got a BS in Accounting from Marywood University and ended up selling stocks and bonds in NYC. Eventually, I switched to part-time bookkeeping and being a part-time fitness instructor since the hours were more conducive to raising a family. After my divorce, my boyfriend saw me spending so much time driving from one part of Jersey to another, going to and from my jobs and encouraged me to follow my dream of owning my own studio so my clients could come to me instead. He believed in me and said he’d even help build the studio because he works in construction. I’d accrued a lot of knowledge from working at Lifetime Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Factory Fitness, and in the Parsippany schools, and I took the best of what I’d learned, decided to make something bigger than me, and launched Revive.
What do you think is the secret to your success? My daughter, Jamie, came up with the name, and I think adding NJ to our name made us seem like a franchise, and because of that, more people were willing to check us out. And once they did, they not only came back, but they spread the word.
What inspired you to add a salt cave to your business? Our salt therapy is one of our most unique treatments available. I included it in my business because I found it invaluable, and then the research backed it up. After my divorce, I struggled a bit—I couldn’t sleep at night and didn’t know who I was anymore. I took up meditation and bought a salt lamp, and after adding the lamp, I was sleeping better. I researched Himalayan salt rocks and learned the many benefits halotherapy could provide, including how it attracts toxins, is a natural healer, and has been used as an alternative treatment for respiratory issues like asthma, bronchitis, and other lung problems. Once Covid came into the picture, pulmonologists started referring clients to our salt cave to help them with the effects of long-term Covid.
How supportive is your family? My boyfriend, Joe Schalkoff, saw how much time and energy I was devoting to getting from one part-time to another, and he suggested I go for my dream of opening up my own business. He offered his full emotional support and believed in me so much that he used his skills and built the studio out for me, creating a beautiful space. Plus, if anything breaks or needs enhancement, he’s on it. And my children are so proud of me. My son helps with the tech side, and my daughters have always helped where needed.
Is there a fan favorite? Our most popular class is Pilates. When I started, I had 4 reformers, and I’ve increased that to 9 because once my clients try it, they love it. They feel better and stronger and see results very quickly.
What might have been helpful before starting your business? I learned a lot from my mistakes, so having a mentor who had already gone through this process would have been very helpful.
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses? Linda’s Gourmet Biscotti in Chester is incredible. I’ve always been a fan of the hard pistachio biscotti, but the new matcha tea biscotti is excellent and has worked its way into my rotation. And if I have a biscotti from there, I need to follow that up with ice cream from Taylor’s Ice Cream Parlor. When it comes to ice cream, I also love Das’ Creamery in Budd Lake, which has Fig flavor—it’s crazy good!
Please share some places in NJ that you and your family enjoy. We’re a pretty active family and often go mountain biking and road biking. Lewis Morris in Morristown has over 22 miles of trails and is our go-to for mountain biking, but we go all over for road biking. Kayaking is another favorite thing to do for us. Of course, Budd Lake tops our list, but we’ll travel by kayak, too. And all three kids like to hike, especially Allamuchy Mountain State Park. I have the book 50 Hikes in New Jersey by Daniel Chazin and have already done 11 of them.
What’s your best piece of advice for an NJMOMpreneur just starting? Believe in yourself and never give up—I think it goes without saying to understand the importance of being authentic, honest, and respecting others.