Westporter Amy Hochhauser started JoyRide in 2011. For 10 years, she has nurtured and grown the popular cycling studio. She writes:
Founding JoyRide is one of the highlights of my life. In addition to the incredible community of riders, many of whom I count as close friends, it’s been tremendously rewarding to employ so many amazing people, in Connecticut and Texas. The JoyFamily is remarkable.
In addition to providing workouts, our team has always been committed to using our platform for good. To date, we’ve helped various charitable organizations raise over $750,000 for their causes. This brings us immense JOY.
Amy Hochhauser (right) with fellow JoyRide leaders (from left): Becky Cerroni and Rhodie Lorenz.
But times are tough. This year, we’ve had to close two of our beloved Connecticut studios just to survive — and we’re still struggling to make ends meet.
After months of mandatory closures and capacity restrictions, the reality is — despite being allowed to open at full capacity — social distancing requires us to limit the number of customers we can serve. Our business model was not meant to function with only 12-15 customers per class.
Most of our landlords have been great. A few, not so much. And as a female-founded, independent small business, we struggle to get the support and attention of some of our larger competitors.
JoyRide has moved classes outdoors …
We’ve had to guarantee many of our obligations personally. Despite believing that we’ve banked enough good karma to avoid this fate, when your landlord is a public company, good vibes and fairness don’t get you very far.
But we are not alone. Thousands of gyms and studios (and many other small businesses) across the country struggle with the exact same fate. We can all forecast a horizon in 2022 where things get better, but to get to that place, we need to survive the next 6 months.
… and cut capacity indoors.
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that fitness and wellness are more important than ever. They combat not only obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but also the epidemic of loneliness and reliance on technology. We need to turn off the screens and sweat together! Human connection is a requirement for a JOYful life.
The Gym Mitigation and Survival (GYMS) Act — a bipartisan bill in Congress — would offer relief to health and fitness establishments. Most previous economic relief packages have either left out or not really helped the fitness industry.
If want to help, please click this link and ask our representatives to ask them to pass the GYMS ACT. We need all the help we can get.
National chain SoulCycle rode into town the other day. Dozens of Westporters packed the new Compo Acres fitness center, trying out (for free) the national chain’s offerings.
But for nearly 4 years, a more local studio has been serving the town. And that service extends far beyond riding bikes for a (stationary) spin.
When Amy Hochhauser, Debbie Katz and Rhodie Lorenz founded JoyRide in June of 2011, their business plan included a healthy dose of philanthropy. From their spot in the Crate & Barrel Shopping Center next to Greens Farms Elementary School, the women “put great value in bringing a community together to get fit, build healthy lifestyles and — on a local, national and global scale — affect change,” Amy says.
The joyful smiles of Joy Riders. (Photo/Kyle Norton)
“We have witnessed first-hand how indoor cycling can transform people’s lives, whether by improving health, becoming stronger physically and emotionally, or overcoming challenges on and off the bike,” she adds.
“The culture of JoyRide is more than fitness. It’s a culture of good health, paying it forward, supporting one another and spreading joy.”
If all this sounds a bit fluffy, consider this: In less than half a decade, JoyRide has raised more than $500,000 for charitable causes and organizations — all of them important to their riders.
When a rider asks the owners to host an event, there is no discussion of rental fees. All studio space is donated.
Last March, JoyRide was the top fundraising team — for the 3rd straight year — at SpinOdyssey. Riders raised $78,472 for breast cancer research and awareness — 5 times what the 2nd-place team brought in.
Over the past 2 years, JoyRiders raised $90,500 for the Lynne Cohen Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research. The organization was founded by Westporter Erin Berk and her siblings, in memory of their mother.
Last November, the studio raised nearly $20,000 to help women survivors of violence in Congo. That event featured African drummers.
In 2012, JoyRide’s team raised the most money of any satellite team in the world for Cycle for Survival, a national event for research into rare cancers.
If you’re kicking yourself for missing any of those great opportunities, don’t worry. Up ahead:
Pinko de Mayo. On Tuesday, May 5 (6 p.m.), JoyRide celebrates Cinco de Mayo by benefiting the breast cancer organization Pink Aid. Post-event festivities include food from the Bodega Taco Truck (including margaritas). Donation amount is $25.
Shatterproof Ride. On Sunday, May 17 (2 p.m.), riders will help break the stigma of addiction, with a focus on children affected by the disease. The day is organized by Westporter Ellen Mendell. Her brother-in-law founded Shatterproof, after his son committed suicide related to addiction. Minimum donation is $40.
CT Challenge. Anyone participating in this fantastic outdoor bike ride in July — which aids cancer survivors — can train for free in the early-morning and evening hours at JoyRide.
JoyRide’s founders clearly walk the talk. No, that’s not the greatest analogy to use with an indoor cycling studio — but I can’t think of a greater compliment.
(For more information on any of the upcoming JoyRide events, click here.)
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