Always on the lookout for the newest and coolest fitness studio to try, you can imagine my surprise when the latest buzz about a “gorgeous new spin studio” was actually located on the East Side of Toronto. As in, my side of the city where it can tend to be slower to welcome some of the city’s trendiest businesses. As an avid spinner since the age of 15 (not to mention a regular visitor of SPINCO studios) I couldn’t wait to make the trek up Broadview to check out the Danforth’s newest fitness studio: Loft Cycle Club.
Bright, airy, beautifully designed and, more importantly, equipped with high quality bikes and cycling shoes, Loft Cycle Club certainly didn’t disappoint upon my first visit. In fact, I booked in to go again the very next day (BTW, they’re on Classpass). Naturally, I wanted to learn more about the two women who have jumped into one of the city’s busiest industries, and learn more about what lead them to open up their new business on the Danforth.
Keep reading to meet Debrah and Samantha, the founders of Loft Cycle Club!
Business Name: Loft Cycle Club
Name & Title: Debrah Menashy and Samantha Coelho, co-founders
Age: 45 & 31
Location: Toronto Danforth (452 Danforth Avenue)
Edit Seven: Tell us about your business, what do you do?
Loft Cycle Club: We are a SPIN + SCULPT boutique fitness studio on the Danforth. We have two studios – our SPIN studio accommodates 40 riders and the programming is very much rhythm based; our SCULPT studio can hold 12 people. We’ve developed three signature sculpt classes (Burn, Build, and Balance), meant to complement your spin routine. We also have a small cafe and a communal work space. Loft Cycle Club isn’t just a fitness studio – we’re a community.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
LCC: We’ve known each other for decades, but it was a serendipitous coffee date in early 2018 that sowed the seeds of Loft Cycle Club. When we discovered that we shared the same dream – creating a different kind of fitness studio – it didn’t take long to recognize that we had each been given the chance to turn our dream into reality.
We value a premium workout more than anything, so we’ve enlisted an exceptional team to create unique programs in a space filled with top-of-the-line amenities. And we’re committed to ensuring everyone who clips in to our bikes can make each ride their own.
As cousins and lifelong friends, we wanted Loft Cycle Club to share the warm, welcoming feel of a family gathering. That’s why we treat The Loft like our own homes: always clean and bright, open to all. A place where we can stop, breathe, and enjoy a hot coffee or tea with friends.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
LCC: We love promoting health and wellness. We see how much an act of self-care like taking a class can positively affect your everyday life. We adore the space we’ve created and the people who walk through the door. Spending our days in this environment instead of behind a desk is so lovely.
E7: What makes your business special?
LCC: Our primary focus is really the people. Our ultimate goal is to understand what our customers want from their fitness experience and to exceed those expectations. We have created programming that focuses on the whole self by offering a great cardio experience and balancing that with body sculpting exercises. We are welcoming and warm – we are the antithesis to an anonymous, sterile environment.
E7: What makes your studio special?
LCC: The space and the people. You won’t find a fitness studio like ours in the city. It is bright, open, airy and welcoming – we put a lot of love into the design. We want our clients to stay after class and bask in the glow of their workout. Our cafe offers delicious smoothies and healthy snacks, making life just a little easier.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business?
LCC: Well it has only been a couple weeks so far (we opened March 1st), but through the planning and recruiting process we have learned that trust and communication make everything much easier. Trust in our partnership and communication with each other and our team. The connections you make with people really do lead to success and to repeat clients.
E7: What have been some of the pros and cons of building your fitness studio in Toronto?
LCC: Pros: the neighbourhood options, the talent, the resources, and support of our families. Cons: the cost! And the search for talent who are not already employed. The search for talent exists in the fitness world too.
E7: As a smaller, independent spin studio, how do you compete with companies like SoulCycle?
LCC: SoulCycle is so great! We are offering something different though. We recognize that spinning 7-days-a-week (although, yes please) is not the best way to create balance within the body. This is why we created the SCULPT – it’s the perfect complement. Our cafe and communal work space is also unique.
E7: How did you decide on the location for your first studio and why?
LCC: We did a ton of research on demographics – it was almost scientific. We visited a lot of neighbourhoods but in the end, we chose the Danforth based on the need for a studio like ours.
E7: Even though you just opened, any plans to open up more locations in the future? If so, where or why not?
LCC: Oh my goodness! Well… maybe? Too early to say, but never say never.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own fitness studio?
LCC: You need to be very organized in every aspect. Clear communication with everyone makes things go much more smoothly. Patience and persistence are important – you just can’t rush when you want quality.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
LCC: Construction is always delayed and always more expensive.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in the fitness business to prepare for?
LCC: Oh, tough one. We only just opened. Make a plan, work the plan, stick with the plan. Keep your head down. Not every day will be pay day, but if you do all the right things it will work out. The second thing is that things don’t always go according to plan. As soon as you realize you made an error in judgement, make a change and do it quickly.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
LCC: It’s hard not to stay motivated when you are doing something you love day. We are both huge list makers. We share our calendars and lists in a common drive so that we can collaborate in real time. We tend to plan out a week at a time and try to give each other a bit of time outside of work to do what we need to do. We are here to support each other and force each other to take time away because we could both work 24/7.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
LCC: Our parents have definitely inspired us with their work ethic. We have sought advice from small business owners who have been gracious to share their mistakes and learnings with us. We both have such an appreciation for entrepreneurs who have built their own businesses from the ground up.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
LCC: We both are huge proponents for home-cooked, sit down dinners with our families (though lately that is proving to be quite challenging at the moment). Putting our phones away when spending time with the family is a great recharge, too. I (Sam) love me a hot bath before bed. Deb is a huge dog lover so a good walk and cuddle with her pups at the end of the day is very grounding.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
LCC: Our radars are always on, so inspiration can strike at any time. Sometimes we look to each other. We are both inspired by beautiful things and people we love. We find beauty in simple things like a good laugh, hugs with family, connecting with real people. However, we both love technology and can get strangely excited and inspired about cool software.
E7: Who is the Loft Cycle Club client and why should they come in for a visit/class?
LCC: Everyone is our client. Fitness lovers, people new to fitness, people who love a sweat, good coffee, and beautiful spaces. We’re a judgement-free studio – regardless of your abilities, we just want you to move your body and feel good. Plus, we’re not rushing you out! Stay and bask in the glow of your accomplishment.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll; images by Cameron Bartlett)