My love affair with group fitness dates back about a decade. I have always been interested in Wellness, so much so that I completed a degree in Exercise Science from Grand Valley State University (GVSU). I had big starry-eyed dreams of ‘changing the world’ and helping people fall in love with their health. Straight out of college I entered Corporate America working for a large Insurance company in the Wellness Department. After about a year of sitting in computer rooms watching people fill out online surveys about their health I felt defeated and it seemed like a joke. My dreams of inspiring people to focus on feeling good just weren’t panning out. I realized corporate America wasn’t it for me. And I quit.
Around this same time the local barre fitness studio I had fallen in love with announced it would be closing its doors permanently. I was absolutely crushed by the news. It had become a home away from home for me. I bounced around to other studios in the months that followed but never found anywhere that seemed to fit . And then a light bulb went off – why wait around for what I am looking for when I can create it myself? And thus was born my own barre fitness studio – Beer City Barre (BCB). I opened the doors to that studio in 2016.
Owning and operating BCB was a wonderfully turbulent time in my life. Filled with so many highs and lows it is hard to wrap my brain around it at times. Ultimately though, it fulfilled my vision of making fitness less about ‘our body size’ and more about ‘how we feel.’ It also opened doors to friendships, and genuine connections with people that otherwise would never have happened. It was special, and I loved it! In 2020, when Covid tore through our world, my tiny studio took a devastating blow, and I made the hard choice to close permanently. It was heartbreaking….it still is.
The months following the closure of BCB, I took time to breathe…to reevaluate the vision for my life. I got married. Took my dog for long walks in the city. Spent time with my family. And then I got really bored – HA! I happened upon a job posting for an indoor cycling instructor, and it piqued my curiosity. I had never taught cycling before, but enjoyed the studio cycling classes I had taken in the past. I rolled the dice and applied. About an hour later I got a call from one of the owners; Eric Williams, asking if I might be interested in helping them prepare for their studio Grand Opening. And well, the rest is (kind of) history.
I very quickly became immersed in the CycleBar culture. It was important to me that I join a team that valued humans, rewarded effort, and celebrated progress…to make a difference in the community and made people feel GOOD. CycleBar cuts no corners in any of these areas. It is an additional blessing that the owners are kind humans who share very similar personal and professional values with me. They want their studio to be a safe and inclusive space for people to just BE. And that’s what they are building in real time.
The past month of leading classes on the podium has reignited a fire in me. I feel I am finally coming full circle to the starry-eyed young college graduate ready to change the world – I am ready! And listen, I know it’s not rocket science – we’re riding stationary bikes. But when I see all the faces smiling back at me during class, the weight of worries falling away from their shoulders, and the tears of joy and triumph streaming down their cheeks – I know what we’re doing matters. We’re riding bikes AND changing lives. I would love to be part of YOUR story!
A BIG thanks to Cori, fellow GVSU Laker and studio cycling enthusiast, for sharing her personal story of highs and lows, of heartbreak and new beginnings! Cori is one of the ROCKSTAR instructors with the new CycleBar studio in southeast Grand Rapids. As of the March 2022 schedule, you can rock a CONNECT ride with Cori at Noon on Mondays and Fridays, or a CLASSIC ride on Sundays at 11am. You can also follow Cori on Instagram @cyclewithcori.