MANHATTAN BEACH, CA — For RydeFYR business owner Chevy Laurent, she could not have predicted what a rough ride opening her own indoor cycling studio would be. After quitting her full-time job and putting her life savings into creating a state-of-the-art heated indoor cycling experience with custom-built bikes, COVID-19 struck.
“So in March , just one year after taking on the expense of our space, and just a few months after officially opening our doors, just as we were starting to build momentum and grow as a new small-business, the pandemic hit and stay-at-home orders were imposed by the Governor,” she said. “And I’ve got to be perfectly honest when I say this was a really devastating blow. But at the time, it was what we were told we all needed to do to flatten the curve and keep everyone safe.
“And when we were told it was going to be for 2 weeks, it really was just a small price to pay, but when we were closed for months with no end date in sight, that’s when it really became a challenge. I mean, imagine taking a leap of faith like I did in 2019, quitting your full-time job, putting your life savings into following your heart and building your own business, only to have it all taken away from you, less than 6 months later, through no fault of your own. It’s really challenging,” Laurent told Manhattan Beach Patch.
Opening RydeFYR was a labor of love for Laurent, who took over the Haute Yogi space in North Manhattan Beach on Highland Avenue in March 2019, investing in state-of-the-art sound and lighting, fine tuning the space to transform it into an exceptional indoor cycling studio complete with the RydeFYR FYR Pit. As a heated studio, classes are offered in a range of temperatures, from room temp to over 100 degrees, on custom-built bikes.
“Before we even opened our doors, we invested a lot of time and money to ensure the best possible experience for our FYR Family,” she said. “Since day one of the business, we’ve had a UV filtration system in our HVAC which kills 99.9% of germs and microorganisms in the air, including the cold and flu. And we’ve always held ourselves to higher-than-industry standards for our cleaning protocols, keeping our riders’ safety always top of mind.
“The tricky part is, at RydeFYR, the business is the ride itself. So unlike many of the other larger spin studios, and big box fitness industry gyms, where their ‘money maker’ is the merchandise, equipment sales, or just keeping you on a monthly membership that they’re betting you’ll never use, my business truly is the fitness class itself,” she said.
“I don’t have monthly memberships at my studio because I’ve put my heart into creating what I feel is the most challenging, fun, fully immersive fitness experience in Los Angeles. My goal has always been to create an experience where we are accountable to give you such a valuable experience, that you are happily willing to pay-per-class every single time. The problem with that is, when a pandemic hits, and your doors are closed and no one is allowed to come to class, there is no money coming in; and the bills for the business are still due. So I had to start thinking of other ways to try to keep the community together and to do what I can to keep the business alive,” said Laurent.
To deal with the pandemic and keep her baby business afloat, Laurent created FYR On Demand, RydeFYR’s virtual workout space where signature rides, yoga sculpt classes and more can be accessed. “You can access it online, on any device, anytime, anywhere,” she said. “And because I know this is a challenging time for everyone, I wanted to make it really accessible, so when you sign up, you get to try it out for the first 2 weeks free, and then it’s just .67 cents per day. It’s a really great deal.”
But, as we know, COVID-19 has thrown lots of curve balls at all of us and RydeFYR has had its share. “Interestingly enough, after being closed since March, in June the California gyms were allowed to reopen with certain additional protocols and restrictions in place,” she recalled. “Many of the safety protocols were already common practice at RydeFYR, like touchless check-in for example. But we also had to make some new additional major changes like dropping our capacity to 50% and ensuring proper social distancing throughout common areas and by separating the bikes in the studio.
“So we spent a lot of time, and additional financial resources to prepare to reopen in June, only to be shut down by the government again, less than one month later in July,” she said. “Honestly, it felt like we were getting punched in the gut. Our community really rallied and showed up for us, and each other during that time. We had the best month in the history of RydeFYR, even with less capacity; and then we were suddenly closed again.
“Our community was devastated; I was devastated,” she said. “And we were in a bind because another new rule was imposed by the government; gyms and fitness centers could continue to operate, but only outdoors. Our space doesn’t have anywhere for us to safely ride outside. And the real bummer is that with our UV filtered ventilation system that we have in the studio, in some ways, I would say you’re likely better off inside my particular studio. But my hands were tied.”
Then, “the City of Manhattan Beach stepped up to support local fitness businesses like mine and allowed us access to certain local park spaces,” she told Manhattan Beach Patch. “While we can only have access for a limited amount of time each week, and can only have a limited number of participants each class, I’m so grateful to be able to have a space to hold classes to keep the community together, and feeling healthy, happy, and active.
“So now we currently offer what’s called ‘Ryde Outside’ by RydeFYR. It’s different than the fully immersive experience of the RydeFYR FYR Pit, but it’s still a lot of fun and an incredible workout,” she explained. “Currently, I am teaching these Ryde Outside style classes at the Polliwog Park Amphitheater, and at the Marine Avenue Park Basketball Courts on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. You can visit RydeFYR.com/schedule for more information and to reserve your bike.”
With everything the pandemic has thrown Laurent’s way, she’s a marvel of vitality and spirit. “I think it’s so important to try to stay positive and look at the bright side,” she noted. “In life you can either choose to count your burdens, or your blessings. I always choose to count my blessings.
“And despite the time of closure due to the pandemic, believe it or not, this has been an unbelievably busy time for me! I think staying active and busy either working on current business ventures or creating new innovative concepts to keep my business alive is what keeps me going.
“Right now, I’m consistently filming workouts for my FYR On Demand online class offerings; and I’m the one who edits, uploads, and manages the site. I’m also managing RydeFYR’s website, schedule of class offerings and social media presence, in addition to my own social media channels and partnerships.
“I’m still teaching classes both on social media, for private companies, and now in-person in Manhattan Beach parks. Just trying to keep up with the sheer volume of emails and social media DMs I receive daily, could quite possibly be considered my full-time job by some! But I love it all. I truly am passionate about what I do, and I love the community I get to coach and represent, so I wouldn’t change any of it.”
When asked to share one thing about her business with neighbors and MB Patch readers, Laurent said, “At RydeFYR, we are more than a community; we are family. We are not about competition. There are no leader boards, or metrics. Your fellow FYR Fam is there to support you on your journey no matter where you are on your path.
“That’s why we ride together — to experience a sense of connection to ourselves and each other. Yes, the ride itself is challenging. My class isn’t easy; and my instructors have been trained to teach using the FYR Method, which poses a set of very specific physical and mental challenges for our riders to experience in every class.
“But the fact that you decide to take on the challenge is what makes you stronger—before you even clip in. The moment you book a bike with us, you are acknowledging that you are an athlete; because at our core, we are ALL athletes.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve ever stepped foot on a track or field, or taken a spin class before, we all possess strength from within—a strength that’s uniquely yours and that you might never have realized that you had until you book that bike and commit to taking your first ride.
“And just like in life, when you’re on the bike, you realize that you are in control—you control how much resistance is on there, how hard you want to push, how fast you move your legs, or when you need to just sit and take a break. It’s all up to you. And as crazy as it may sound, the bike is a metaphor for life—it’s up to you how you want to live and how hard you are willing to push towards whatever it is that you want, need, and deserve.”
The self-described “upper thirty-something millennial living right here in the beautiful South Bay” keeps a busy schedule. “I offer free Instagram live workouts every Tuesday and Thursday at 12 p.m. for the community,” she said. “I truly feel it’s an important way for me to be able to give the power of health, strength, mental clarity, and movement back to my community. Anyone can access them by just following me on Instagram @ChevyLaurent.”
She also teaches corporate virtual classes for other businesses and corporations “to be able offer to my fitness classes to their employees as a health and wellness benefit during this crazy time. And I’m still a trainer for Manhattan Beach’s own Tone It Up, so I regularly teach Instagram live classes and film workouts for the app from home/the studio for them,” she noted.
“My favorite way to help others is through movement. There is something so powerful about moving together in order to feel grounded and strong in both mind and body. So right now I’m loving creating a sense of consistency and community through my free IG live classes 2x per week. I also love hosting rides and classes to raise funds for important charitable causes—right now through fundraising with virtual online classes; we’ve also done them in the past in the studio, and I look forward to being able to do them again once we’re allowed to reopen.”
So just what does a day in the life of Chevy Laurent look like these days? “Haha! That’s a tough question,” she joked. “I used to have somewhat of a consistent schedule, so I could give you an idea of what a typical day looked like, but now—what can I say?
“In true 2020 fashion, every single day really looks different for me. One day I might be shooting content all day for a brand partner. The next I might be teaching 1-2 virtual classes, followed by loading up bikes to truck them around town to teach in-person Ryde Outside classes. And the next I may be on my computer most of the day managing emails, social media, placing cleaning supply and equipment orders, managing inventory, and any number of details relating to studio upkeep, marketing, paying studio bills, etc., all while also managing many of those same things related to my personal brand and household,” she said.
But there is one consistent thing that she does almost daily, she said, laughing, “Laundry! Needless to say, I go through a lot of sweaty apparel. But most importantly, I do my best to make it a daily priority to spend time with my incredible husband Jaime and my fur-baby, a long-haired chihuahua named Hiro.”
This article originally appeared on the Manhattan Beach Patch