High-energy cycling studio rides into Beachwood

Joe Purton had almost two decades in the nonprofit realm when he decided to accelerate into a career as the owner of CycleBar in Beachwood.

Purton, the former vice president of Sisters of Charity Health System, recently opened the high-energy cycling studio in a 3,400-square-foot space at 3355 Richmond Road. Early returns are positive, with CycleBar classes drawing big numbers for what the new entrepreneur calls an intoxicating fusion of mind, body and music.

"It's a kind of multisensory journey," Purton says of an indoor cycling experience that melds thumping electronic music with videos and colorful lighting. "If gives you a feeling like you're in a club."

CycleBar's tiered theater holds 55 custom bikes along with two 80-inch televisions. Rides focus on upper body work and drills of varying speed, while personal data monitors allow participants to go at their own pace or compete with other riders. Instructors, called "CycleStars," lead the classes, which number about 30 a week, a figure Purton expects to increase in the coming months.

Though classes can be rigorous, the up-tempo affair is not meant to be intimidating for newcomers, says Purton, 48.

"That's the beauty of cycling," he says. "You can control  how much resistance you have on the flywheel and make it as difficult or easy as you want."

The Beachwood CycleBar, part of a company with 200 studios nationwide, represents Northeast Ohio's first indoor cycling franchise. Purton opened his studio in mid-March, fulfilling an entrepreneurial spirit for fitness that had been gestating for years.

Purton had been working at Sisters of Charity since 1994, organizing budgeting mechanisms and cost report filings across the faith-based healthcare system. The University Heights resident is also a former cycling instructor who taught classes in the late 1990's. While nonprofit work was lucrative, Purton recognized an opportunity at CycleBar he couldn't pass up.

"CycleBar allowed me to combine my passion for cycling with my accounting and finance background as well as a desire to run a business," he says.

Purton is currently working more hours per week than he ever has; a small price to pay for delivering something far beyond a standard cardio-fitness workout. Within the next two years, the burgeoning business owner hopes to open a studio downtown and another on the West Side.

"Everything I've been putting into this I'm going to benefit from," says Purton. "That (hard work) is what makes it more fun and rewarding."

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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