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Scenes from grand opening day at Purvelo Cycling at The Mark in Athens, Georgia, on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. New members could try out either of the two first classes, and they enjoyed snacks, juice and champagne to celebrate the opening. (Photo/Caroline Barnes, https://carolinembarnes.wixsite.com/photography)

“Three, two and one!” Athens pūrvelo manager Maxine Clifford calls out from her stationary bike, signifying the final seconds of the new studio’s first class. The only illumination in the room is the few candles in front of Clifford’s podium, enabling the 29 participants in the room to make out her grin as their celebratory cheers resound throughout the studio. The room is full of energy, exhausted legs and for Clifford, a dream fulfilled. 

Beginning cycling to instructing 

A recent graduate from the University of Virginia, Clifford described the opening of the Athens studio as a “long time coming.” After trying her first pūrvelo class in Charlottesville, Virginia during college, Clifford was hooked. Immediately passionate about the sport, Clifford was determined to become an instructor despite her lack of cycling experience. She approached Kristin Watson, the founder and CEO of pūrvelo, and managed to land an internship with the company. 

After a year of countless miles on the bike, consistent encouragement and in-depth training, Clifford was finally given the opportunity to teach pūrvelo classes, which solely use the rhythm of the music to dictate the pace, unlike typical, metric-based spinning classes. From the moment that she stepped onto the podium, Clifford knew that this was only the beginning of her ride as a cycling instructor. 

“This [teaching at pūrvelo] is the most fulfilling thing that I’ve ever done and the most exciting thing I’ve ever done,” Clifford said. “It was so challenging and fueling for personal growth.”

However, the physically demanding aspect of the indoor cycling was not the sole factor which sustained her passion. The atmosphere driven by the four core values of the company — community, connection, loyalty and fun — that Watson instilled in each of the locations made pūrvelo much more than just fitness facility for Clifford.

Epicenter for relationships through exercise

“We are super involved in the community and we try to do so in every market that we go into,” Watson said. “ [Our clients] love, maybe not even just the cycling component of it, but just the positive vibes and the community aspect.” 

Looking forward to the new faces that will be coming through the doors of their new location underneath of The Mark Athens, Watson denotes the connections that are made at pūrvelo as the most important part of the experience, encouraging the company’s employees and clients to take an active role in knowing each person in the pūrvelo family and their story.

Clifford aspires that pūrvelo Athens, like its other locations in Auburn, Alabama, Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia will become an epicenter for new relationships.

“One of the beauties that I’ve seen at our other location [in Auburn] is some of our older clientele creating bonds and relationships with the younger riders,” Watson said. “Some of our [pūrvelo] moms that are feeling a sort of void since becoming empty nesters after sending their last child off to college now have a whole new little family for themselves at pūrvelo.”

Moira Chouaf, a former member of the Charlottesville location, reinforced Watson and Clifford’s description of the loving link that binds pūrvelo participants. 

“It’s a great community,” Chouaf said. “I’ve definitely strengthened my relationships with people inside and outside of class. It’s a great way to connect with people.” 

The Athens location is starting  with 21 employees, 18 being students at the University of Georgia, and the team has a common goal in mind: to extend the positive vibe that is present in the studio beyond the 45-minute cardiovascular conditioning class.

“We love cycling, teaching cycling and the way that it makes us feel,”Clifford said. “That is always kind of the goal that everyone that steps into our studio, whether they are just here to hang out or to take a class, leaves with a smile and feeling good about themselves.” 

With a name translating to “pure and simple,” pūrvelo encourages participants of all ages and fitness levels to leave their anxieties at the door to grow and develop into their best selves. The atmosphere of the room, omitting mirrors and bright lighting, strives to create a judgement-free environment for all those in the room. 

“You’re never going to walk out of a pūrvelo workout and say ‘I didn’t burn enough calories’ … You go in there and you do whatever you need to do during that time,” Clifford said. “And the hope is that you walk out of there feeling like you’ve done something good for yourself and then go do something good for the world.” 

Making a new home in Athens 

Watson said she established a location in Athens due to the “refreshing atmosphere” and the “spice of life” that college students bring. Although she hopes that the Athens studio will promote the steady growth that the company has experienced since its launch in 2015, Watson’s vision of success and expansion rely on the staff, not the statistics

“The bottom line for me is that I want to create jobs for young women where they feel empowered to make decisions and choices on their own,” Watson said. 

Using the company’s four core values to make all decisions regarding partnerships, class formats and hiring, Watson emphasized that pūrvelo’s overall goal is to create opportunities for the community of Athens to connect and grow on and off of the bike. 

“This is an environment for everyone. You can expect to walk out of [pūrvelo] with a smile having had a lot of fun … even when the workout is super challenging,” Watson said.

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