Carla Worked for Years to Set Up Her Spin Studio. Six Months After Opening, the Pandemic Shut It Down

Photo by Larissa Silva McDonnell.

Welcome to The Pulse, your source for wellness and fitness news around Dublin.

If you delve back into your memories of the Before Times, you may remember a Christmas advert for a certain luxury at-home spin bike that went viral for striking many viewers as “dystopian” and “sexist”:

The backlash was fast, furious, and pricey, costing the company $1.6 billion. Between that and a disappointing IPO, Peloton was truly looking like a road to nowhere.

CEO John Foley must have wanted to kiss a bat when COVID-19 started spreading in the first months of 2020. With gyms closed and people stuck at home, fitness enthusiasts began thinking that perhaps lockdown was the actual horror the Black Mirror-like commercial presaged. The Peloton bike sold out everywhere; the value of investments in the company more than quadrupled in the first year.

At the same time, gyms and fitness studios have suffered. Here in Ireland, official guidelines have meant that they have only been open roughly three of the last 16 months.

Carla Bredin had spent years making her boutique spin studio, Echelon on D’Olier Street, Dublin 2, a reality. She certified as an instructor; she visited studios in New York and London; then she had to find a space in Dublin, apply for all permissions, oversee a fit-out. But she never gave up on it. She had felt uplifted by the energy of the immersive group indoor cycling experience in other cities, and she knew it was something Dubliners would love. When Echelon’s doors finally opened on September 12, 2019, she was proven right, as classes quickly filled up and people who had started out on introductory trial passes began booking multiple classes a week.

Six months and three days later, lockdown slammed on the emergency brakes, and Carla felt thrown, left with a room full of beautiful, high-spec new indoor bikes but no riders. In this episode of The Pulse, Carla spoke to me about the experience of reimagining her business model, and her hopes for the studio as Ireland reopens.

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