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.
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.
For more information, visit handlebarcycling.com
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