Rachel Van Rijn’s sign language skills had been in high demand for years before it began taking a toll on her hands.

Last June her boyfriend asked her what she would do if she couldn’t sign anymore. A high school runner with martial arts training, Van Rijn decided she wanted to pursue a career in fitness.

In her search for a business to start, Van Rijn met with 15 fitness franchises.

“It was awful,” she said. “It was really awful. It was a very man-focused field — very condescending.”

Then she met the founders of 30 Minute Hit, a female-only, high-intensity circuit program that combines kickboxing, boxing, a core workout and self-defense moves.

Van Rijn said she was sold in 20 minutes.

“No other place can I work out in a sports bra and not worry about anything,” she said.

Van Rijn opened her first 30 Minute Hit location four months ago in Ballard, 6410 32nd Ave. N.W., and she’s negotiated another franchise in the Queen Anne/South Lake Union market that she’s committed to opening within the next year.

“We already have financing in place and ready to go,” she said.

Beacon Hill will come after that.

Van Rijn is already getting some members from Queen Anne, as well as from women who work downtown but live in the north end. Most are from the Ballard neighborhood. Moms appreciate the play area, which is right near the action.

Members work with trainers at each of the 13 stations one-on-one, Van Rijn said. Women can come by for a free trial to get a feel for it, she said, and it builds over time.

“A free trial would never be thrown to the wolves,” Van Rijn said.

She said she likes the communication from the founders and the ongoing training in the sales and physical aspects of 30 Minute Hit, which is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“Every two weeks I get trained again,” Van Rijn said. “And I can go up to Canada, which is where my boyfriend lives.”

She used the proceeds from the sale of her Tacoma home to start her business, and now she’s building a home in Vancouver. She plans to balance her time between the two cities.

Van Rijn said she was a feminist before opening 30 Minute Hit, but the process of getting to that point only empowered her more.

When she received a very high quote for the buildout of 30 Minute Hit, she shared it with her friend, Hannah Crabtree, a fellow signer who also owns Pocket Mansions, a company that designs and builds tiny houses.

They started working on the space on Feb. 14.

“It was like my Valentine’s gift to myself,” Van Rijn said. They had the space finished in two months. “For just two girls, that’s not too bad.”

30 Minute Hit has a number of special events throughout the year, including one day where members can invite a man in their life to train with them.

“I’m very excited to put my boyfriend through it,” Van Rijn said, “because he’s always making fun of me: ‘It’s only half an hour.’”

There are month-to-month, annual or pre-paid memberships, all of which include unlimited training and access to any 30 Minute Hit location. More information is at 30minutehit.com, including how to sign up for a free trial. Membership includes boxing gloves, wrist wraps and, for those who sign up this month, a heart-rate monitor.

“This has made me feel so empowered,” Van Rijn said, “and I love giving that to other people.”