The Wall Cycling Studio

by Sara on October 7, 2015

IMG_5009It is early-ish on Saturday morning {8:45 am is early for me at least – not a morning person but I’m working on it!}, the weather outside is cold and grey and I am happy to be tucked inside a small room at The Wall Cycling Studio ready to sweat.  Julie Sabella, Mad Dogg Athletics certified instructor and owner of the studio is at the front of the room, impressively upbeat after having already taught one class for the morning.  Even more impressive is that she insists on teaching back to back classes after a recent injury to her knee, but that’s just the kind of person and teacher she is.  I quickly came to find out that despite her upbeat demeanor, she would also kick your butt in class.

“This is your ride, I’m just here to ride with you.  You can work as hard as you want, sit there and pedal easy for 45 minutes if you want but this is your time so why don’t you give it your best”

IMG_4996The room is small but in a good way, it has a sense of community that Julie has worked so hard to build and is one thing that really sets her apart from other studios or gyms.  She takes the time to say hi to every person that comes through the door, looks for everyone on her sign up list and connects a face with a name.  Suddenly you aren’t just in any old studio, you’re hanging out with friends jamming out to some awesome beats and on yea, you’ve also gotten in your workout for the day.  It’s easy to see after just one class why clients not only keep coming back but walk into the studio with a smile, excited and ready to go.

How hard you want to work in her class is up to you, but don’t think she is going to let you slack off.  The class is extremely fast paced, full of jumps and hills moving quickly from one position to the next which tricks your mind into thinking you can go harder.  After all it’s just 10 more seconds right?  Her teaching style is highly encouraging and motivating, breaking each song, each section into tiny little pieces that make the whole class seem more manageable.

My legs decided to be particularly sluggish on this day.  Maybe it’s all the extra yoga I’ve been doing, maybe it’s because I hadn’t had any coffee in me yet, but everything felt heavy and it was all too easy to let my legs slow down a bit.  Then Julie would call out, “Just push it for ten more seconds, you can do anything for ten seconds, earn that break in your resistance”.  My mind instantly snapped back to beast mode and my legs would find a pace I didn’t think I could hit.  Her mantra of “earn that break,” resonated with me and I made a mental note to write it down and remember it later.  For spin, for running, for life, I really just liked the sound of it.

Before I knew it there were 3 songs left, then 2 then 1 and when we climbed off the bikes to stretch out I couldn’t belive 45 minutes had gone by.  I almost couldn’t believe I had gotten in a meaningful workout until I saw how sweat-soaked my shirt was and how much my legs were shaking.  I had to hand it to Julie, she certainly had figured out the answer to the age old question, “how do I get in a fierce workout that feels like nothing?”

Got my sweat on at @thewallcycling. Get all the details + info on their newest location in Phoenixville! Click To Tweet

After class we sat down for coffee {for me, green tea for Julie} and chatted about everything from what keeps her motivated to The Wall Cycling Studio’s newest location in Phoenixville PA, not to mention the expansion into a bigger better Manayunk Studio.  This girl is on fire and just getting started.

Open since May of 2012, The Wall Cycling Studio was born out of a bad situation and a back-of-the-mind desire to join the fitness industry.  While Julie may not have a typical business background, she says business and marketing were two things that just came natural to her.

“I used to charge my younger sister to paint her nails,” she says with a laugh, “I’ve just always loved selling things to people.”  Still, realizing the dream was not a quick process.  She explored several different career paths while still in school from art to photography to nutrition to communications, and at one point toyed with the idea of going into a career in fitness.

“When I was in my sophomore year I said to my mom, I’d really rather just stop school and become a pilates instructor and she said no.  And here I am now doing it.”  So when she was laid off from her job as an apparel buyer in early 2012 she decided to chase her dream of opening up a spin studio.  Making the jump from athlete to instructor was not easy, but rather than become intimidated by working with more experienced riders, she chose to dive in and learn as much as she could.

“I sat there every single day for six months and watched other instructors.  They didn’t know at the time, I tell them now how I would sit through every one of their classes and replay their playlists and say, ‘oh this is what they did’.”

It is clear this woman is truly living her passion as she talks about everything that goes into making The Wall Cycling Studio a premiere destination for indoor cycling.  She has so much pride in what she does, from the appearance of the studio when you walk into the quality of instructors she hires and the standards she holds them to while they work for her.

In a time where the focus is on fast-faster-fastest and dollars matter more than people Julie’s mission is simple.  Engage with people and create a comforting environment where people WANT to come and workout not just for the calorie burn but for the personal connection.

“I don’t think about it as a business, it’s just a meeting ground, a community for everyone to come and take class.”  Sure we all want to work out, burn calories, get sweaty and feel better about ourselves but connecting with like minded people adds an extra layer of motivation that we don’t even know we’re missing.

“I think it’s important because you’re not [just] a credit card statement.  I want to learn at least 5 things about everyone that comes in the studio,” she tells me and I am instantly impressed at her ability to remember that much information. “People are going to spend their disposable income with you, we’re asking for one hour of [their] day [and] I just want so many people to enjoy fitness.  It’s fun!”

Julie’s nurturing attitude is in part out of her past experiences with fitness.  After losing nearly 100 pounds and running as her main source of exercise, she tried spinning but didn’t enjoy it because it was uncomfortable.  It wasn’t until she met her now husband, an avid cyclist and huge support system in the launch and growth of her business, that she realized she had her bike adjusted all wrong.  Once she got set up the correct way spinning was much more enjoyable.  Now that she realizes how much of an impact she has as an instructor on someone’s enjoyment and she takes that responsibility seriously.  

To anyone out there struggling to find the motivation to start a weight-loss or fitness journey, Julie’s best advice is, “Just go!  Find a place where you’re not going to be intimidated.  It’s going to be really hard, it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s in your head.  That’s what I tell people, if you just get out of your head and you realize it’s just a number, you can do it.  Stop doubting yourself.  Stop saying I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.  Can’t means you won’t.  Just say you can and try it and you’ll do better every single class.”  I honestly could not agree more.

One of the last things we chatted about was our mutual frustration at our current running situation, me with my plantar fasciitis, her with a torn meniscus, and both of us missing running in inexplicable amounts.  Somehow through teaching multiple classes and opening a new studio location, she has managed to find time to train for the Philadelphia Marathon, although this recent injury is a major unplanned roadblock.  I shared with her my newest outlook on fitness, or at least the thing that’s going to get me through these next few months of trying to fix my body back into running shape.  What is that you ask?  You have to think long term.  It’s freaking hard because we’re all so impatient and moving fast fast fast but if you want to be running or spinning forever you have to take care of yourself now.  Sure 2 months or 3 months sounds like a lifetime right now, but think about 5 years from now and don’t sideline yourself now because you couldn’t stand to wait another week or month or whatever the case may be.  We both agreed to take better care of ourselves because we want to be kick ass runners when we are 80 years old.

At the end of the day we don’t choose a studio because they have the best bikes or they are in the prettiest buildings.  We don’t choose the places that have the flashiest lights or the trendiest instagram photos {ok guilty, we really do care about trendy instagram photos.  So sorry so #basic} We choose the place that has the most badass instructors that push us and challenge us to do our best, and we chose the place that we can go and hang out with our friends and the place that we are comfortable to get a little uncomfortable.  That way after class we can all say, “Man Julie really kicked my butt this morning I am going to be SOOORE tomorrow.”  And then we smile because we know that’s our favorite part.

And we know we’ll be back week after week ready to have our butts kicked all over again.


Book your class today at The Wall Cycling Studio in Manayunk or their newest location in Phoenixville PA.

Follow The Wall Cycling Studio on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram {psst if you’re new to The Wall Cycling Studio your first class is FREE}

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