When Rhodie Lorenz and Amy Hochhauser created and launched JoyRide Cycling Studio, there were no other boutique cycling studios in Fairfield County, let alone all of Connecticut. Amy had taken spin classes while living in New York City, but when she couldn’t find something similar once she moved to Westport, the former lawyer started exploring what it would take to create a spin studio herself.

She was introduced to Rhodie, who has been spinning for 18 years and teaching for 13, and who was also looking into opening a spin studio. When it was clear their interest and approaches were good matches, they joined forces to create JoyRide. Today, just five years later, JoyRide has grown from its one flagship studio in Westport to six studios (Westport, Wilton, Darien, Ridgefield, and two licensed studios in Texas that were opened by loyal riders who moved there).

“I knew it would catch on here, if we executed it right, it would work really well,” Amy says. Their focus was not just on having really skilled instructors and great exercise classes, but to make sure that the philosophy of positivity, inclusion and support for one another is the theme that runs through everything. And they’ve made sure to stick with it from day one, creating something they call the JoyRide Family, and they aim to include everyone.

“The feel of family and friendship of instructors and riders, that’s the really amazing part. You can start a business and it can make money, but there’s that intangible, special sauce that’s the magic of it. Everyone from the front desk to the instructors, everyone has such a positive attitude, they support each other, there are no queen bees. The essence is going out of our way to be positive and inclusive and real,” she adds.

It must be working. Since opening their doors, JoyRide has welcomed 20,000 riders in their studios who’ve taken 500,000 classes. They’ve seen one marriage proposal and raised more than $500,000 for charity in their popular spin-raisers to give back

Looking back, Rhodie says they’re awestruck at how the business has grown. Their approach was staying measured, focusing on smaller goals, and not asking ‘what’s next?’ until they finished each step. She says that was to maintain quality and fold in people who would elevate and strengthen the brand.

“I’m so proud of it. I never envisioned that it would be where we are today. It has definitely exceeded my dreams. The 20/20 hindsight is focusing on what you really want to do and doing it really well. We would have looked different if we had a 6-year, long-term goal when we opened and said, ‘We’ll have six studios, then roll out another 10…’ Then your eye comes off quality or the people. It’s sort of the metaphor of what we teach:  If you have your eye on the goal rather than the journey, we might have missed some of the incredible people and opportunities that came our way.”

Great Instructors, Positive Reinforcement

“I’m excited to be part of such an amazing team and community. The emphasis really is on how collectively we are such a strong team,” Rhodie says.

Both she and Amy give a lot of credit for their success to their instructors and staff. All of the teachers have been trained by Rhodie, following her method. In addition to choreographing fun rides on the bikes to great, upbeat music, what’s first and foremost is the way instructors motivate riders, and teach them to feel empowered, strong and resilient, and to believe in themselves, both in the studio and beyond its walls.

“For me it stems out of my personal experience as a rider—it had the opportunity to be so much more than an exercise class. There’s definitely the discipline of exercise, but it’s the experience that can be super-transformative. The ability to grow strong in our minds and bodies that translates in other areas of our lives. This is a hard thing, taking a spin class, staying uncomfortable and working that hard, and doing things that prove to yourself that you’re capable of a lot more,” Rhodie explains.

The entire experience is meant to help riders work toward that goal, both physically and mentally, as she describes it.

“Being in a dark room offers us the ability to disconnect and focus on ourselves. We don’t have 60 minutes to ourselves anymore—we’re so attached to our phones, and the need for immediate response, and information overload. We all need a quiet place to be. And there’s an irony that the music is blaring and it’s not quiet—but there’s a place to connect to ourselves and with positive energy. And it’s a really empowering and transformative experience. And people really want that feeling—it helps with mood, health, wellness, patience, confidence, their physical being. It’s a whole mind/body thing.”

Amy says it’s a great feeling for her when she knows riders are getting that reward from something she and Rhodie created. “When people reach out to me and tell me it’s changed their life for one reason or another, it’s really amazing,” she says.

The studio celebrates when each riders reaches 100 rides, with balloons, instructor and student cheers, and the ritual of signing the wall in the “Hall of Joy.” Everyone gets celebrated and encouraged to strive to reach the milestone. Everyone.

In fact, one of the very first riders to reach the 100th ride five years ago was an 80-year-old woman from Westport who is still cycling at JoyRide. Recently too, the youngest rider, a 13-year-old girl, took her 100th class. It just so happens she has a speech, language and processing disorder, and Rhodie says the girl might not have found the reinforcement elsewhere, but at JoyRide she was welcomed and encouraged to be part of the experience like everyone else.

“Other workout places may not have included someone like them. It offers people the opportunity to come together for whatever they need. It reminds us of how much we have in common. We’re so happy to have a place for them, for everyone. It’s personal accomplishment in a community where you’re supported and where you feel you belong. It appeals to all age levels. You don’t have to have a certain level of fitness to come in. What I love is the inclusivity of it,” Rhodie says.

Connecting With Wilton

Rhodie and Amy weren’t the original owners of the Wilton studio; they had licensed both the Wilton and Ridgefield studios, and only recently took over full ownership of both. Still, it’s always had the same universal brand identity and Wilton’s instructors had all been trained by Rhodie from the start. Even though the Wilton location isn’t yet officially one year old, the Wilton studio is celebrating JoyRide’s 5th anniversary right along with everyone else.

The two women are making an effort to get to know Wilton, with both taking classes and Rhodie getting onto the schedule to teach a few classes herself each week.

“The vibe translated really well, and once you’re part of the JoyRide community, there’s a level of connection. I’m super excited to get to know the riders there better, and have a more personal experience,” says Rhodie. “Wilton is so positive. Even just hanging out in the lobby, the energy of the people is great. The community lends itself to the same cohesiveness, the same positivity—there’s a lot of town pride and support. A place like JoyRide is a perfect fit because Wilton clearly has so many of those component as well.”

As Rhodie has added to the schedule some of the instructors from the other JoyRide studios like Westport and Darien, residents of those towns who follow their favorite teachers are coming into Wilton to cycle here. It’s a subtle positive that fits with the recent efforts and sentiment from Town Hall, the Economic Development Commission and observers of current local events—bringing outsiders into Wilton to see what the town’s business base can potentially offer is a plus, no matter how you look at it.

So too does the studio bring a contemporary, current feel in everything from the clean esthetics to the energy to the iconic orange gear of the logo. It’s something fresh on the Wilton landscape that many people have responded to.

In turn, the owners have embraced the things that make Wilton, Wilton.

“The other unique thing about Wilton that I really love and is a great fit for JoyRide is the very tight-knit community feel, even more than some of the other towns. Without the national chains and big business taking over, people want to support local businesses, and it has its own unique flavor, unlike any other CT town, and I love that about it,” Rhodie says—which she identifies with. “JoyRide is a community-based business, we’re not a national brand, and even though we’re growing, we always want to preserve our identity and quality, which is another reason we’re a really great fit.”

Since taking the helm in Wilton, one of the changes Rhodie and Amy have made is taking out the ping pong table and couch from the downstairs lounge and making the space into a second studio for other forms of exercise. “We hope to diversify people’s workouts. Now we offer circuit class, a mobility class, yoga, and a pilates class.”

As for what’s next, specifically in Wilton, Rhodie says she hopes to meet even more members of the community and hopes people who haven’t tried cycling yet will come and give it a spin. and to partner with more local businesses and stay involved in the community. “We do a lot of charity rides and take a lot of pride in giving back. We hope people in Wilton, if they have a special cause, will think of JoyRide as the place where they can raise money and awareness.

JoyRide Wilton is located at 3 Godfrey Pl.. For more information visit the website or call 203.762.6122.