Who's That Gal: Cate Brinch of Recycle Studio
Cate Brinch is more than just a fitness guru - she is a successful small business woman that has changed how Boston gets in shape. She opened Recycle Studio in 2011, a first of its kind spinning/cycling studio, that sparked a serious trend in the city. Here she shares some of what she's learned in the past 5 years of owning her own business (with multiple locations) in Boston!
So, how did you find yourself in the world of fitness?
I accidentally found myself in the world of fitness. I moved to Boston in 2008 and was working in marketing. I had developed a pretty great fitness routine while previously living in Manhattan. When I started looking to emulate that routine in Boston I came up short. I joined the gym in my office building and tried to just get excited about treadmills, elliptical machines and random fitness classes. It didn’t work. By the spring of 2010 I was fed up and bored of my workouts so I decided to look into opening my own fitness studio. I knew exactly what I wanted to bring to Boston because I was the target audience. So, I spent all of my free time researching, traveling to take classes and really learning everything I could about the studio I thought Boston needed. In 2010, there wasn’t any studio fitness in Boston aside from Back Bay Yoga and Exhale. After a lot of sleepless nights and anxiety, I took the leap and opened Boston’s first indoor cycling studio, Recycle Studio in January of 2011.
Starting your own business is the “American dream,” but takes a lot of work. Can you tell us about the process you went through to take Recycle Studio from a dream to a reality?
The process to open the first studio was really quite insane. I had no help with it and nobody in Boston really understood what my vision was, it was new to this area! I had phone calls with people in the Boston fitness scene that literally left me in tears because they were so adamant that my idea was a terrible one. So, I forged ahead solo. I was working a full time job at an advertising agency but I was fortunate to have flexible hours and an understanding boss. This allowed me to have health insurance, savings, etc while I worked to get Recycle Studio open. The dream was very small at the beginning. Get a business plan written, get a location established, find people to teach, never sleep. It was a pretty organic process and my “plan” was executed by trial and error. It was unpaved territory and I really had nobody to turn to for answers so I just did the best I could and trusted my instincts.
What has been the greatest business challenge you have encountered to date and who do you turn to for advice when challenges arise?
I would say hiring the right people was my biggest challenge. I think it took me 3-4 years before I really understood how to properly hire people. My business isn’t based on selling a product, it is based on human interaction so finding the right people is HUGE. And then finding the right people with real loyalty to your vision is even more important.
On that note, what’s the best career advice you’ve received? What advice would you give to a young woman looking to follow in your footsteps?
There are no victims, only volunteers. The lifestyle isn’t for everyone. I gladly accept all of the difficulties of running my own business. I work 365 days a year and I love it. I will have a baby in April and not have maternity leave, that’s fine with me! I don’t look at that as a negative. And I also try to surround myself with other business owners who feel similarly. If you decided to start your own business you must be aware that it is not glamourous and it is very thankless but it is satisfying to the core. You must choose this perspective or you will not be able to last.
A lot is also going on in your personal life - congrats to you and your future Recyclist(a)! Are you nervous about balancing motherhood and business?
Thank you!! No, I am more nervous about other things in my life than balancing a child and a business. I have a good friend who owns her own business with multiple locations as well, and she has been a great source of guidance and mentorship. What I love is that when I take on a lot, it allows me to properly balance the amount of energy I spend on each thing. For example, I cannot obsess about any one thing, I see my to do list and attack it. No time for dwelling. Plus, our baby will have loads of loving ladies, and man, to spoil it!!
Aside from indoor cycling, what are some best practices you recommend to live a better, more purposeful life?
Surround yourself with people who motivate you, hire people who inspire you. Turn all negatives into positives. And get a dog.
How has the culture of Boston influenced your business and fitness choices?
I am quite frankly in love with the culture of Boston and it has made an enormous impact on my business and fitness choices. From a business perspective, I LOVE our local companies. I am so thrilled to be able to collaborate with these companies that help make Boston, Boston. The studio is stocked with products from Follain, Forestbound, Ripe Stuff, Steele Canvas, Jenna Pirello Art because these are all Boston born inspirations. From a fitness perspective, I do my best thinking on a run around the Charles!
What’s next for Recycle Studio?
Oh lord, that’s a secret! I am working on a very exciting project to launch this summer if all goes well. And in addition to that, what’s next is to continue to cultivate the ultimate experience at the South End and Boston Common studios. Keep learning, growing and embracing our brand identity. I just want to keep offering an experience to the city that makes me feel proud.
Must-have workout gear item: Loose fitting Recycle Studio American Apparel Tank. I always size up.
Favorite meal in Boston: Probably a vegetarian sushi feast at Cafe Sushi in Cambridge. Or the Avocado Smash and a Charge shake from Pressed in Beacon Hill. I can’t decide!
Favorite winter activity: Skiing or keeping the studio open during a snowstorm and hosting rides.
Most looking forward to ____ when baby comes along: Adding an additional layer to my life.
3 words that describe your style: Cozy, Casual, Accessorized
Last book you read (our blog initially started as a book club!): Girl Boss - how cliche of me :)