This deeply personal story is from Marie Richter the Founder and Owner of an indoor cycling studio: Cyclehaus, Long Beach, California.
Before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story…?
Marie writes… I discovered and fell in love with Indoor Cycling while living in Germany. It was 2013 and I was depressed. Two people that I loved very much had recently died; my father-in-law of 15 years, as well as one of my dearest, oldest, and closest friends.
Indoor cycling was the “great escape” from all the sadness I was feeling.
The cycling classes were the one hour of my day where I could zone out and become one with the bike and music. I would get in a trance-like state and ride like I didn’t have a care in the world. Any stress, worry, or sadness didn’t exist when I was in a spin class. For me, it was an hour of nirvana.
A few months after discovering indoor cycling I was on a plane back to California after living in Germany for two years. My mother had been in remission from cancer while I was living in Germany but in October 2013 cancer had returned. This time it was terminal. I came back to be with her and to help take care of her. First I lived with her and then she lived with me when I got my own place. It was a very hard and sad time.
Indoor cycling classes were my savior during this time.
Again, it was the one hour of my day when I could release all the frustration, anger and sadness I felt over my mom’s illness and her imminent death. She passed away a year after I returned from Germany. It was now September 2014. I was grieving, 40, and about to file for divorce after 15 years of marriage. It was clearly time for new beginnings.
I told my mother a few months before she passed that I would love to open a spinning studio in our town, Long Beach, to fulfill my desire of having a career in something I was passionate about.
She was very supportive of this idea. Cyclehaus opened in December 2015 after a year of planning and looking for the right location and space. I’m so happy I opened it.
It has been exactly what I needed for my soul and continues to feed my soul.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has definitely not been a smooth road.
First, the process of getting the lease and permits was a huge pain and took much longer than anticipated. I also have had to let go of instructors that I really liked personally but were not a good fit for the studio because we didn’t have the same vision and goals for Cyclehaus. There have been a lot of headaches along the way but running Cyclehaus still remains extremely rewarding.
The pros definitely outweigh the cons.
Let’s talk business. Tell us about Cyclehaus – what should we know?
Cyclehaus is a boutique fitness studio that offers Indoor Cycling classes. About 20 a week. We are known for excellent customer service, fun and challenging classes by wonderful instructors, great playlists, and having an owner that is very involved in the day to day of the studio.
I go in every day and am the instructor assistant to 60% of all the classes each week.
Almost all our clients have met me personally and see me most times they attend classes. I help clients set-up their bikes and make sure they have water and a towel. They also know that all emails come to me exclusively and that I personally respond to all emails. I have gotten to know clients and clients have gotten to know me. This has been the most rewarding part of having the business.
There is a real sense of community about Cyclehaus.
Clients know they can come to me in confidence with their feelings and comments about a class, an instructor, or the studio. Many clients have also felt safe talking to me or their favorite instructors about their health and fitness struggles, such as anorexia, depression, and substance abuse. Instructors and I have also felt comfortable to share struggles we have had over the years as well. These reasons mentioned above are the things that I am most proud of Cyclehaus for. They are the reasons I and most of the instructors love our job. It is very rewarding when we can connect with clients on that level and know that none of us are alone in our pain and struggles.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Many of the instructors have been very supportive and patient these three years in business. It takes a long time to build a clientele and to get the kinks out when starting a business.
The instructors are a huge part of the success of Cyclehaus.
Cyclehaus does not make a profit yet. This could take another year.
I didn’t get into this business for the money. I got in it for my soul.
I don’t think small studios like mine make real money anyways. To me, Cyclehaus is already a success because I am getting so many rewards on a personal level from it.
My family and friends:
My sisters and my boyfriend have also been very supportive.
My good friend Luis Zavala has played a very big role in the success of Cyclehaus. He is a painter, graphic designer, and photographer. He designed and runs the website, took all the photos for the website, etc. and helped design the Cyclehaus logo, studio artwork, and marketing materials.
My boyfriend, Alan Davis, started working for Cyclehaus after the 2nd year in business as Head of Marketing. His previous 16-years’ experience as an editor and photojournalist for cycling magazines has been invaluable. I am very grateful to all of them for helping to make Cyclehaus a success, and for their continued emotional support too. I have needed it many, many times, believe me!
The patronage of clients is what makes a business successful.
Cyclehaus has dozens of regular clients. I am continually grateful for them, especially to the dozens that come regularly.