Most people probably agree that working out is never the best part in a day; you feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, fatigued and would rather be doing just about anything else. Yet somehow at 5:30 a.m. on a Monday morning, dozens of Winston-Salem residents get downtown, step on a bike and ride their hearts out to loud music and encouraging instructors for 45 minutes.
Earlier this month, CycleBar, an indoor cycling franchise, opened a new location in downtown Winston-Salem. Originally offering a few weeks of free classes, the studio is now completely up and running, offering multiple classes a day with various instructors. The classes are unique — they’re loud, difficult and focused on growth and strength. At the heart of the CycleBar story is an emphasis on personal wellbeing and health.
Dixon Douglas (‘06) grew up in Winston-Salem. After graduating from Wake Forest, he moved to Charlotte but eventually found his way back to his hometown, working in marketing and communications. His passion for physical fitness was sparked when he worked for a marketing firm whose client was Humana.
“One of the partnerships I brought Humana into was the Rock & Roll Marathons, so I would run with people and have meetings,” Douglas explained. “I would really just run with anyone and ask what drives them, and they always had a compelling story. I felt that I needed to bring this passion to Winston-Salem to provide a platform for health and wellbeing in this city.”
This passion for wellbeing and physical fitness has found a home in CycleBar, as people from all walks on their health journey strap into their bike and ride for the duration of 45-minute classes. The classes are set to the beat, meaning you ride to the music and adjust your difficulty and pace accordingly. They also feature basic choreography, arm exercises and stretching.
Charlotte Bristow, a senior at Wake Forest and one of the instructors at CycleBar, was always familiar with cycling and decided to try instructing after hearing about this new opportunity. After finding the courage to tryout, she doesn’t regret her decision at all.
“I’ve been so happily surprised by the spirit and energy everyone has brought to class,” Bristow said. “So many of our riders have never been on a stationary bike before or taken a class like CycleBar, yet they come hooting and hollering through the class like seasoned spinners.”
Every new business has its bumps, but CycleBar has seemingly navigated theirs smoothly. As Douglas was sharing his insight behind starting his new passion project, he was simultaneously dealing with the internet being down, greeting customers and working to get new riders registered.
“Just starting a business always has bumps and bruises, but Wake Forest always taught me how to navigate these challenges,” Douglas said. “We expected to run into obstacles and prioritized how best to solve them.”
While fitness and wellbeing are at the heart of the new cycle studio, part of CycleBar’s mission is to also fully invest itself in the Winston-Salem community. The company has already partnered with an organization that raises awareness for apert syndrome by offering free rides and taking donations to cover medical costs. This is only the first instance of community partnerships that the new studio hopes to continue to build in Winston-Salem, as they look to the future.
“I hope that it expands from just a place that people can exercise into an opportunity for everybody,” Douglas said. “What I really hope to see is that somehow CycleBar is in people’s minds as a fundamental part of the Winston-Salem community and to continue to be able to work with other organizations to make health and wellbeing a centerpiece in Winston-Salem.”