Robin Robertson of the Bellingham Tennis Club laughed as she said, “Owning a tennis club was never on my list of things to do. I was in environmental science. I’m a Huxley grad.” So how did an environmental science professional with a background in waste reduction and environmental consulting end up the Tennis Queen of Bellingham? “I was always active. I was a runner and downhill skier. I had knee surgery at 13, but I still ran in high school and college.” But that knee caught up with Robertson, and she had to drop out of track her senior year in college. “I started cycling.”
With a strong commitment to fitness, Robertson and her husband, attorney Doug Robertson, spent 1990 traveling the world on an extended bicycling trip. “We went from New Zealand to Australia to Southeast Asia to Europe.” Afterward, they decided to move from their home in Seattle to Bellingham. Robin was considering a career change when the opportunity to buy the Bellingham Tennis Club came around.
“It took four years to turn it around.” The original plan was for Robin to work there for two years and go back to environmental consulting. But in 2001, the club expanded to five courts. “Once we built the fifth court and built quality tennis programs, we focused on fitness. And then it got fun.” So fun that Robin stuck with the BTC with no plans to leave in the immediate future.
Robin’s lifelong passion for fitness began with her mother. “My earliest memory was going to the European health spa in Seattle with my mom. I was four. I remember watching the women work out and wanting to get out and join them.” Robin’s mom is her inspiration. “She was active until she died at 97. She was a wonderful role model.” Trainers at the Bellingham Tennis Club go through functional aging classes, to learn how to work with older participants.
Despite the fact that Robertson owns and runs the Bellingham Tennis Club, she does not play tennis. “I can’t with my knee. But my husband Doug plays.” One day, maybe after a knee replacement in the future, she will play doubles with Doug. Until then, she remains dedicated to cycling. She leads an indoor cycling class called The Cycle Moles. Why moles? When Robertson started cycling, she had her stationary bike set up in her dark outside-access basement. Her husband joked that she was like a mole going down there for her mole ride, and the name stuck. Robertson developed a program for herself, and decided to bring it out of her basement and share it with a class. The Cycle Mole program is eleven weeks. “It does end,” she said. The program has measurable goals and benchmarks and results.
Through the Bellingham Tennis Club, she also enjoys bringing the gifts of fitness and cycling to the community through free tennis clinics and charity events like the annual Pooch Scoot, which benefits Animals as Natural Therapy. She is currently working on a fundraiser to help African families learn to build and maintain bikes. “Kids are sometimes five miles from school, and a bike makes a huge difference in their lives.” The fundraiser is called Walk for Wheels, in which participants will walk five miles and bike five miles. “You get a sense of the difference the bike makes.” The goal is to raise enough to provide ten bikes. The event will be in July or August.
Robertson’s feeling about fitness is summed up in the work she does. “I want everyone to live a rich and full and healthy life like my mom.” Robertson not only lives this philosophy, through her work, she helps other people do just that.