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Here's How Cate Brinch Built Recycle, From Training to Its Tees

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Welcome to Fitness Week: five days of workout coverage, so that you can start your New Year's resolutions off right.


Recycle merchandise via @recycle_studio/Instagram

Three years ago, Cate Brinch was on the hunt for indoor cycling the way she used to do it in New York—and when her search turned up nothing, the former marketing maven decided to open her own dedicated studio, calling it Recycle. Since then, she's built a Boston-bred brand and expanded from her first South End studio to an additional space on Newbury Street overlooking the Public Garden. Read up on Cate's journey and you'll likely want to ride with her.

What were you doing prior to launching Recycle?
I was working in marketing and actually continued working my full time job here in Boston for the first couple months after opening Recycle. I thought I could do both but no, I needed to take a leap of faith.

So you were working a typical 9-to-5 and teaching before and after?
That's exactly what I was doing. I would go in the morning, work until 8:30. Go home and shower. Actually the reason why Recycle is where it is is because it was so close to my office, so getting up and running was easy. I would go work my 9-to-5, then haul it over to the 5:30pm.

How did you find your instructors initially?
Really it was sort of a strange way of networking. It was hard because there was no other indoor cycling studio in Boston, so it was an interesting search. People weren't familiar with the concept necessarily, so it was also having to find people willing to take a risk with you. It was word-of-mouth. We started with a small team, just five instructors to get the doors open.

You stock juice from The Ripe Stuff, use soap from Follain, and work with South End Athletic Company to have them stock cycling shoes across the street. How do local partnerships like these speak to the Recycle brand?
If you were to ask me about anything in the studio walls, it would be from a New England company. Even the larger brands we partner with we make sure they are local. It's really important, you have to be true to the goals you set out to achieve and for me it was not only to create this amazing studio but to create a business that promoted other businesses I respect. It makes you feel like creating community by doing that, and that word sounds so cliche, but it's true. Rebecca from The Ripe Stuff: She really was a rider first. My relationship with her developed from her coming to take classes and saying "Why aren't we working together?" All those people that are part of this community, it makes sense as perfect synergy.

The South End in general seems to share a similar customer and it's phenomenal that so many businesses collaborate. Do you think that part of your ability to do so is fueled by the South End specifically?
A thousand percent. From the day we opened we jokingly called ourselves the Fitness Triangle of the South End because we have Skoah next door and SEAC down the street. And the three of us thought it was awesome. At that time, three years ago, Tremont Street was very different. So I think we all were encouraged by each other's ambition and entrepreneurial desires and we really were rooting for each other. We all wanted to see these great ideas achieved. That's why it was so easy. There's authentic mutual respect for each other's businesses and that's huge in the South End.

How has your past life in marketing influenced the style and feel of your studio?
That's one of those things that still to this day I have so much fun with. When we first opened I was curious to see what I would do but I still have total control over our Facebook, Instagram, our Twitter—that's still actually me and a part of my job I don't ever want to give up no matter how big we got. I also still design every single piece of gear we produce. I thought I was moving away from marketing by opening this, but I realized I love marketing, I just needed to find something I was passionate about.

What do you think keeps your client coming back to Recycle with so many other options now in Boston?
I think that our clients know exactly what we do and that it's different. That's been a big mission of mine, to educate people on what we're doing. You can go to different studios and have completely different experiences. I always equate it to how there are different styles of yoga, and this is the same thing. At Recycle a big emphasis for us is to allow you to unplug and get lost in the sweat and I think that's something really special. You can walk into a candlelit room and there isn't even a clock in there, and leave with your butt kicked and have enjoyed every minute is kind of a shock to people. We aren't focused on technology and we are focused on providing this unique environment. We invest so much time at this point in our training program too.

How has that mentor program grown over the years?
It's another thing I've found to be incredibly fulfilling. I love seeing this potential in someone and I love using Emily Susen as an example here because when we first auditioned her I just saw something in her and said "Can you throw on a song that will really get you going? A song that will make you scream if you're by yourself." And she looked at me and goes "I don't scream." This is a girl who about a week ago had to sub out a class because she lost her voice. Seeing that side of someone who has another half to show on stage is amazing. At this point it's only ended up being women who've gone through (but we also love guys) and just to see who they grow into is so special.

Have there been any challenges to managing both the studios?
I would say it's been challenging because I had to kind of let go. Because I opened a second studio I was forced to hire more of a management team, and what could have been incredibly challenging has been an amazing transition. I've loved having to let people in and ask people for their help and develop a larger, passionate team.

Who do you think is the hardest instructor?

I couldn't say one, because I'd say I get surprised literally weekly by someone. I think it depends on their mood and what's happened to them that week. Someone just got in a fight with their boyfriend; I know they'll kick my ass harder than they might have the week before.

Earliest wake up time?
We have had class at 5:10am in the morning, so I was probably at that class at 4:30am.

And do you have any tips for getting out of bed that early?

Laying out my clothes the night before. It sounds ridiculous but it's one less thing to think about and you go into auto-pilot.

Describe your clientele in three words.
Inspiring, loyal, and fun.
· Work Out Like a Recycle Rider With Emily Susen's Playlist [Racked Boston]
· Recycle Studio [Official Site]
· All Fitness Week 2014 posts [Racked Boston]