For three years, Rachel Meier taught one of the most well-attended cycling classes at LA Fitness, with students packing the room to catch her high-energy, super-challenging work-outs. This past January, the 31-year-old Scottsdale resident broke out on her own, opening one of the only drop-saddle spin studios in the North Valley, RPM Spin. Her boutique studio is filled with Revmaster Pro bikes from LeMond, complete with computers that sync with Polar heart rate monitors, so you can take your workout home and sync it with the app. There are also LED lighting effects, with lights changing colors throughout the ride that cause garments to glow in the dark.
Meier, who also is an instructor at her studio, talked about what it was like to make the leap to business owner, as well as what people can expect from a drop-saddle class. Scroll down to hear her talk about her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, too.
What brought you to Arizona?
The weather. I moved here in August of 2006, and am originally from Cortland, New York. I went to the University at Buffalo, and graduated with a double major in English and Communication.
What’s your spin background? I
I started spinning at the Buffalo Athletic Club after college eight years ago and immediately fell in love with it. I became an instructor, and taught in New York for a year — I’ve been out here ever since.
What got you interested in being a spin instructor?
I’m a runner, and I needed something else to cross-train with very little impact. I still experience my “runner’s high” when I’m flying through a run on the bike, but my joints aren’t killing me, and I’m rocking out to some good music.
What makes a great spin instructor, and why are you a great spin instructor?
You really have to feel the music in your soul, and know how to set up a playlist that gives people variety and keeps them energized throughout the hour. You also need to be aware of how to communication well, and give instruction people can understand coupled with a high-energy level to motivate students.
Just have fun with it. That’s what I do, and it seems to work wonders.
What are your favorite artists to incorporate into your spin classes?
Some of my favorites to play are house beats, anything and everything, and Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5 — anything upbeat.
What made you want to open your own business?
We have had a serious lack of drop-saddle spin studios up in the North part of the Valley, and I was constantly driving to the Arcadia neighborhood in Phoenix to get to a studio. (Drop-saddle spin studio) SoulCycle in New York City is huge, and I wanted to live that similar dream myself.
Why is a drop-saddle class beneficial compared to regular stationary bike classes?
Drop-saddle, where you’re standing and to the beat of the music, really helps to target the hamstrings and gluteus maximus muscles instead of building larger quadricep muscles, which can be unappealing for women or those of shorter stature, like me.
Also, your butt won’t hurt after an hour of a seated ride, and it actually becomes easier to spin standing in proper form.
What have been the biggest benefits and challenges of being a business owner so far?
I can set up my own schedule usually, which is wonderful, and I meet so many amazing people who have the same love for spin.
The challenge is when you’re a little guy, new to the community or market, and no one knows you’re out there yet. It’s heart-wrenching when you want to just tell the whole world, and you have to find creative ways to market and advertise on a budget.
How does RPM Spin compare to other spin studios in the Valley?
We are unique because we ride drop-saddle, so it’s like a dance party. We specifically targets hamstrings and glutes – which are tough areas to hit straight on for an hour, yet are areas everyone wants to work on. Our instructors are big on making sure riders use correct form.
What are your goals with your business?
My goal is to bring all of the North Valley residents who are sick of long drives and crowded gyms to the studio. They can sign in online and reserve bikes. I just want to hear people say, “I love RPM,” when I’m walking by unbeknownst to them in the community.
What do you look for in instructors?
The group I have kicks some major butt, and I’ve witnessed all of their classes beforehand to select a great team. They have excellent backgrounds as trainers, ambassadors, nurses, etc., and that lends to the overall knowledge of what we are doing over here.
They also have to have positive energy flowing through their veins, as I’m great at assessing a vibe as the class will feed off that type of a person, and it is instantly more fun for them.
What basic cycling tips do you have?
Keep your weight shifted back, take the ride in the saddle until you’re comfortable enough to come up and try standing, and then just keep trying to hit that downbeat.
Who should try cycling?
Someone with knee injuries might find this to be extremely therapeutic. Runners will love it because we are basically jogging on a bike the entire time. Beginners will feel comfortable as the lights are low and drop for the recoveries, and we will teach them the basics before class so they can try them out during the ride.
Why should people check out your studio?
I have put a ton of effort into making the appearance aesthetically appealing, offering top-of-the-line equipment and amenities. It’s within a fabulous community, wonderful team members are here, and it’s tons of fun, while still being an intense workout for athletes.
What advice would you have for aspiring fitness studio owners?
Make sure the market calls for it, and then run with your dream. Thus far, it has been an amazing journey, and I can’t wait to just keep enjoying the ride. If you want it enough, it’s well worth it. And if you love it, others will, too.