BY SERGIE WILLOUGHBY
In 2016, Tammeca Rochester launched Harlem’s first-ever, boutique indoor cycling studio. With a unique offering of music that ranges from soul to hip-hop to reggae and a variety of packages to choose from such as one, three or 10 class packs and the 60-minute private party, weekly unlimited and monthly unlimited packs, Harlem Cycle has become a treasure above 125th Street that has people of all backgrounds and lifestyles flocking to this enclave of “culture, fitness and soul.”
Recently, we caught up with Rochester to discuss the business.
TNJ.com: What inspired you to launch a fitness business and when did you launch it?
Tammeca Rochester: My journey to opening an indoor cycling studio in Harlem started when I was looking to find a workout that would both get me back in shape while putting me in a positive frame of mind. I loved riding a bike when I was younger, so naturally after exploring the various workout options, I found myself drawn to indoor cycling. I waited several years for a boutique studio to come to Harlem that would offer a great workout in a community focused environment. After realizing that they were not coming, or that if they did come they would lose sight of the greatness that is Harlem, I figured I would do it myself. As a former engineer-turned-branding marketer, I had no background in fitness. Indoor cycling was something I loved and wanted to bring to everyone. Initially, I was scared not knowing the ins/outs of the industry but while out jogging one October 2015 morning, I finally decided to take the leap. And on April 2, 2016, the doors of Harlem Cycle were opened.
TNJ.com: Are there any challenges that go along with running a cycling studio?
T.R.: Of course……there’s plenty. The biggest for me was finding the right team. My team is what makes Harlem Cycle unique. Finding the right persons who shared my values and believed in the mission was a challenge. There are so many people right now pretending to teach fitness and creating a “mean girl” culture where it’s easy to feel out of place or unwelcome. This made it very challenging to find persons who not only were fitness professionals but also persons who value a client’s individual journey. I sat through numerous auditions until I found the right team members who made Harlem Cycle what it is. And yes, a few slipped in but we made sure to adjust as soon as it became clear they were not the right fit for the team.
TNJ.com: You specialize in physical and mental wellness. How important a role does wellness play in the lives of busy professionals?
T.R.: In my opinion, wellness is the #1 key to success for busy professionals. As the saying goes “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” This cup includes both your physical and mental well being. Each day, we continue to go about our lives being overwhelmed by pressures from work, family, friends, etc. We start the day stuck in traffic or if you are a New Yorker stuck in the train. As we turn to social media for “fun,” we are inundated with news of yet another senseless act of violence or the rights of minorities being taken away. Over time, this all adds up creating a state of trauma for everyone. We have to find a release. The best way is to make sure we include stress relieving activities in our lives that not only help with our cardiovascular and physical health but also our mental health and wellness. For me, that was indoor cycling.
TNJ.com: What do you love the most about Harlem Cycle?
T.R.: My happiest moments at Harlem Cycle are all centered around our clients. I love seeing someone who has been intimidated to try indoor cycling coming for the first time and then walking out knowing they’ve conquered something that they once thought was inaccessible to them. I love looking around our studio and seeing the level of diversity ranging from age, race, economics all riding together and dancing to our music. Nothing is more fulfilling than watching a 72 year old client who was scared to try class, sit next to a 23 year old as they ride harmoniously together then high five each other at the end of the session.
TNJ.com: What’s next?
T.R.: In one phrase…Harlem to the world! Following the footsteps of the Harlem Renaissance, I want to create boutique studios around the world where people can exist on their own terms.