How this 20-something created Boston’s homegrown alternative to mega-cycling chains

Jess The Handle Bar Shop Small Treatment Boston may be better known for its role in American history and devoted sports fans than its wellness scene, but that’s changing—and fast.

Entrepreneurs have been opening healthy living hotspots all over the city lately, and 28-year-old Jess Bashelor is one of the leaders of the (new) revolution.

Bashelor’s baby, The Handle Bar cycling studio, is a homegrown alternative to mega-spinning chains. And that baby is growing up fast: She’s now opened three locations in Beantown.

Here’s how the former competitive swimmer fell in love with spinning, embraced her entrepreneurial spirit, and created a studio that gives Bostonians an experience that can be as electrifying as a winning night at Fenway.

My “aha!” moment
I went to Northeastern University and kind of bounced all over the place. I ultimately graduated with a biology degree, then I got accepted into a master’s program for speech and language pathology, but eventually took a job with a start-up activewear company. All of the sudden, I was right in the midst of the fitness community here in Boston, and working for a small, new company. I was so inspired visiting the different fitness studios, and realized I love the start-up culture and that buzzing feeling—the sense it’s do-or-die.

Creating a business plan to support a vision
I ended up leaving that job and waiting tables while I worked on my plans for The Handle Bar. I didn’t have any business experience, but luckily Northeastern had a lot of resources. I got connected with a student-run venture accelerator and had a coach—who was actually a junior in college—who helped me write a business plan. What I learned through the process is that when you’re starting a business, you don’t have to have all the answers. You just need to put one foot in front of the other.

Jess The Handle Bar

One of the most surprising things about running a cycling studio…
I didn’t think I’d instruct as much as I have! When I started out, I got certified just so I had perspective as a studio owner. I wasn’t dying to be an instructor, but I love it. I’ve gone through phases where I’ve taught up to eight classes a week.

My days are so busy, I sometimes forget to eat, so I try and stay on top of that—I’ll have a yogurt with fruit and maybe even a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast, then I might get a pressed juice later. I try to cook dinner, but sometimes I end up just grabbing something quick from a place near me that has organic, locally sourced meals to-go.

Why the fitness industry is as invigorating as the classes
Just being an entrepreneur, there’s this satisfaction of building something—putting in the time and effort and building such a strong foundation and base. Every day is exciting.

But it’s even better working in fitness, specifically. That’s something I really noticed when I was working with the activewear company—I was wowed by the environment in the studios I was visiting. They’re such invigorating, positive places to be, and I really feel that with our studios. I’m so happy to be around other people who are drawn to be there because of personal betterment.

What I love most about Small Business Saturday
You know, I get people asking me all the time, “Are you a franchise?” And I’m like, “No! We’re a small, local business, run by young women.” There are so many small businesses in Boston, and the day really just brings that to the forefront. There’s a person and a heart behind each of them.Handle Bar Treatment

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