When fitness studio owner Ellen Spell puts her mind and energy into something, she goes all in. A lifelong athlete, after injuring her back 12 years ago, Spell sought out a new exercise routine that would keep her in shape but also provide some relief from the pain.
That hunt led her not just to a new exercise passion but it also resulted in a new, unintended business venture. “I wandered into a barre studio in Wilmington and immediately fell in love with it. I got addicted!”
This past week Spell opened Cycology 202 in Glen Mills. It’s the third boutique fitness studio for Spell, who opened Sea Cycle Indoor and Sea Barre Fitness just three years ago in Lewes. Each studio, personally designed by Spell, is designed to offer a decidedly un-corporate experience for local clientele.
Spell lives at the beach (her husband is the Lewes Chief of Police), but she taught high school for 17 years in Kennet Square. Following the success of her cycling and barre studios in Sussex County, Spell says she is excited about opening a new location back on her home turf, and the opportunity to introduce her fitness program to family and friends in the region.
Located in the Glen Eagle Square shopping center, Cycology 202 will offer cycle, barre, yoga, pilates, TRX and ‘combo’ exercise classes.
Spell says the unique format of the boutique fitness studio classes will appeal to Glen Eagle shoppers. “I’ve always been well aware of this fabulous shopping center. And there are so many synergies with many of the retailers like Philadelphia Runner, Athleta, Trail Creek Outfitters, even Whole Foods.”
The former Kennett High School World Language Department chair says she owes some of her success to having earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. “Basically, I became really good at training teachers to teach.”
When Spell and her family moved down to the beach, she kept up with her tennis game and even gave lessons. But she missed her barre classes and was disappointed to find there were none in the area. The facility where she was coaching tennis had a fitness area that wasn’t being used. So Spell asked if she could turn it into a barre studio.
“I started the classes to force me to keep up with it. And it exploded! Six months later I was out looking for my own studio.”
Spell created her own barre program taking things she liked from a lot of different barre programs. “There’s Barre Method, Pure Barre, Barre 3, Physique 57. I picked and chose what I liked and put it together in a way that made sense to me and trained my instructors in my method.”
As for the cycling classes, sitting on a bike for long stretches of time didn’t appeal to Spell, with her nagging back issues. So she created her own cycle workouts, replete with a 17-page curriculum that each of her instructors must follow. “It a running joke among my instructors how detailed I am about how the instruction has to be.”
The full body workouts focus on rhythmic riding and include a lot of upper body strength training. The 45-minute signature ride is timed to the beat of the music and fuses a lot of barre into the instruction. So riders will hear a lot of barre queues as they hit their moves together.
She also says riders won’t pedal to the point of absolute exhaustion. “People don’t leave here crying.”
They have 30 bikes now with room for 10 more. The bikes won’t be any closer than they are now when the additional ones are added. And Cycology 202 has two showers for pedlers on the go.
Spell draws a distinction for those who may be familiar with one of her biggest competitors. “Soul Cycle is a lot more psychology, which is ironic given the name of my studio. They are up more in 3rd position riding fast. We offer a lot more choreography in our classes. Ours is more of a dance party. We’re like – go hard have fun!”