Q&A: Recycle Studio’s Cate Brinch

Brinch tells us why she isn't fazed about the 'big boys' coming to town.

Recycle studio image provided

Recycle studio image provided

Now that the country’s biggest chains of indoor cycling studios (Flywheel and SoulCycle) are coming to Boston, how will Boston’s original boutique cycling studio compare? Founder and owner Cate Brinch isn’t fazed. She says Recycle’s focus on quality, not quantity, is what will make sure Recycle stays one of Boston’s best studios. 

What made you decide to open Recycle Studio?

I developed this passion for indoor cycling and Boston didn’t really have what I was looking for. Recycle started out as me trying to fulfill a passion. I thought, I’m not gonna wait for someone to bring it here, I’ll just do it myself. So, I opened [the first studio] in 2011 in the South End in this amazing area that is so open to new things and to change. It’s really progressive for Boston. And the studio was so well-received.

How many bikes are there in the original location?

We only have 17 bikes in the South End location. My goal is to create a community within a community. You can come and really get to know the staff and the other riders. I wanted people to come for the experience, not just for a workout. We started selling out rides pretty quickly but I wasn’t willing to add more bikes. I always say that I will never open a studio with more than 25 bikes. That’s just not the vibe I want for Recycle. I want everyone to be able to relate to their instructors. In fact, most of our instructors are people who were previously riders in our classes.

You opened this business on your own. What were some of the struggles you had to overcome? 

I had a such a specific vision that I wanted to create all on my own. There were many sleepless nights because I was involved in everything from the construction of the studio, to staffing, to funding. I had to live and breathe it 100 percent.

How has your day-to-day life changed since opening this business?

We have early classes so when I wake up at 5:30 a.m., there could be a problem that I need to go fix. I’ve learned how to fix bikes! And I’ve learned to love it. That’s definitely not something I ever thought I’d be doing when I graduated from college.

Now that SoulCycle and Flywheel are opening locations in Boston, do you think anything will change for Recycle? 

You know, I almost hate being mentioned with them because we’re so different from them. What we’re trying to do is focus on something that appeals to everyone and is all about inclusion. Our instructors are people, previous Recyclers. There are some people who want to just come in, check a box, do their workout, and go home. But people who come to Recycle aren’t like that. It has a very different vibe, a very different energy.

What makes Recycle different than the other indoor cycling studios?

I always compare it to yoga: there are all different kinds of yoga and if I’m really into Bikram yoga, I’m not going to go to a different yoga class. Spin is the same way. Boston isn’t New York and it isn’t Chicago, its a small town as far as cities go. People in Boston want a different, smaller energy. So they come to Recycle.

Did you previously teach classes at Recycle? 

No, I decided early on that my passion was to create and run this business so I wanted to focus on that. I think of myself as more of a coach than a business owner really. Sometimes I even forget that I’m the boss. I think that’s when it feels the most real to me; when I get lost in the moment while I’m taking a class.

What’s your personal workout routine? 

I always say that I never want anyone in the studio seven days a week. I don’t think that’s healthy. I usually run three days a week and I ride probably four days a week and then I try to do a yoga class once a week. Its all about balance for me. I always feel recycled, like a new person, after a spin class; which is where the name comes from.

How have things changed for Recycle since you opened the Back Bay location? 

Things have changed a lot since we opened the new location. It allowed us to offer more rides at different times. People who come and see that a class is full here can just walk on over to the other location, it’s not far away. I wanted to make sure that I could be at both studios, so they’re close. And I obviously had to hire people for the new location. Letting go of that control and allowing other people to help me was a major change for me.

How many bikes are there at the new location?

There are 22 bikes at the new location because, like I said, I’ll never open a studio with more than 25 bikes. I think that ruins the kind of community I want to cultivate. It’s all about quality, not quantity.

Do you have any plans to open a third studio in the city sometime soon? 

Right now, I’m so focused on maintaining the quality of these two, so I don’t have any plans yet. We’re still hiring and training instructors, but when the team seems ready, then we’ll look into it.