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Never in my life did I enjoy exercise – ever. One of the most painful memories I have is being made to do cross country run around a park in North West London at school. Fast forward to 2015 and I had just returned from working in the Middle East for seven months and had somehow let go of a toxic relationship and a few other bombshells in my life. I was ready to start looking after myself.

I wanted to step up my game and I had always been drawn to spinning – It frightened me beyond belief and therefore, naturally, I wanted to try it out. I have no idea how I came across BOOMCYCLE – After my first class, I felt incredibly powerful, clear headed and invigorated. I was completely hooked, started attending four, sometimes six times a week! Dim lit studios so you don’t feel self-conscious, wonderful instructors and staff, incredible soundtracks & constant interaction with riders filling us up with motivational words and it’s not at all cringe, genuinely!

Hilary is co-founder of BOOMCYCLE and I found myself a regular at her Tuesday classes. She has the type of energy & beauty that inspires you to want to be a better version of yourself. Abundantly confident but not intimidating with it, her ‘go get what you want, celebrate your power’ attitude and humour is what makes her the ideal HI DOLL spotlight writer. It’s my absolute pleasure to have her open the SPOTLIGHT SERIES with her personal story.

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My definition of what it means to ‘BE BOLD’: The action of being true to yourself and what you believe even when it goes against the grain and/or defines logic.’

I’m not sure if I was always a risk taker. I can’t remember the first time I was bold or took a risk although if my mother were writing this there would probably be twenty documented cases to have had occurred before I was seven years old.  Come to think of it, I’m not totally sure I see the bold decisions I’ve made as ‘risk taking’. When I really think about it, not going after something that, in my wildest dreams, seems like the best possible outcome, is the real risk. Why? Because that could very well be the beginning of true regret. One of the most terrifying things in the world.

Throughout my life I’ve learnt that it can be scary to go for something you want when it’s apparent it will be very hard and you definitely don’t know all the answers for how you’re going to make it work – Oh, and success is NOT guaranteed.  However, like anything, it gets easier over time. It can and should become something you practice. And after a while it can be invigorating.

At the very moment I am writing this, my husband and I are working furiously in the middle of yet another ‘all-in’ effort to grow our business, by another 100% in a matter of months. He’s a ‘bold one’, too. Thank goodness we both are or one of us might teeter on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Or worse, one of us could feel held back by the other – we’ve all been in those relationships. We’ve been in this business together for most of our relationship.  Luckily this time, although the job is massive, we’ve never been stronger and it feels like everyone is on our side. But, please know, it wasn’t always like this…..

I can vividly remember shortly after opening our second location, we had come to the decision that we needed to turn the whole thing upside down and change our core product, the way we run our classes. Up until this time we had all the best instructors in London teaching classes however they preferred at our studios.  Upon the opening of the second location, it became apparent that our brand was unrecognisable because it wasn’t linked to what we were actually offering.

Riders were unhappy with the lack of consistency – some classes were training based (on numbers, power & heart rate training zones) and some fun & danced based. We were losing money. We had to create a format that the bulk of our riders would enjoy and even harder, convince all ‘the best’, set-in-their ways instructors to do it for us.

The instructors were my responsibility and I soon discovered they hated being told what to do – a time or two their friends even taunted us on social media, saying we were making a mistake trying to tell them how to teach. Some were accusing of us of no longer being the head of our business and just carrying out what they thought was our investors’ whim. We developed our program anyway. Some left immediately and I taught it to the ones that stayed who never actually did it in the end.  Little by little, I had to pick up more and more classes myself to keep the business running whilst recruiting and training brand new instructors.

I was doing an extremely uncomfortable number of classes a month. Sometimes five a day.  Part of how we instruct is riding the entire class with your riders instead of standing at the front of the studio, off the bike, telling them what to do. I had no time to do any supportive strength work or real recovery because of the other responsibilities I had running the business.

We had been through some tough times with the business before.  Within our first month open for business, our previous investors went into administration and we had to work every single shift ourselves. But this was different. The most uncomfortable physically, but also mentally because so many of our team kept falling away and it took a long time to re-build.

It often felt like survival – like I felt when I was 21 years old and moved to NYC for my modelling contract the February after 911. Alone and into Manhattan rent with the terrorism threat level at a scary level and seeing armed troops every day in the subways. I thought I was done with that level of fight or flight, but apparently not.

However…

It worked. In 2015, our business grew 100%. In 2016 we’re still growing an average of 71% year on year and we’ve grown nearly 300% in the past 2 years across some KPI’s. We have now raised and set a new bar with the BEST instructors in London and personally, I couldn’t be happier! I’m even feeling very rested!

This wonderful story of triumph aside, I am still nervous and uncomfortable at some point most days because I’m trying new things that I’m not totally sure about, but I’ve learned to embrace the electric feeling of fear and act anyway when I believe in a path.

This is not because I believe I am amazing and have some crazy sense of self belief, it’s because I know if I don’t explore the ideas I believe in, I will never know where they could’ve taken me.

Boldness does not always work out but if you’re out of your comfort zone, if you’ve grown and even if you’ve only realised that not getting your goal didn’t kill you and you’ve gained the guts to step out and try something uncomfortable again then it’s still winning.

Goals do change and you also might have loads of ‘failures’ but as long as you keep going all those failures can become a big huge, shiny, joyous win.

“I’ve learned to embrace the electric feeling of fear and act anyway when I believe in a path”

My best advice:

–       Ask yourself whether you’re more afraid of going after what you want or not going after what you want.

–       Keep a goal in mind, sometimes the path to that goal will meander but as long as the destination is kept in mind you’re more likely to end up there.

–       Really dig deep and think about the moves you need to make to get to where you want to be. List the challenges and the scary parts you might encounter so that they’re expected and not shocking when they happen.

–       Surround yourself with people who have been bold and survived or at least people who champion your efforts.  Try to find a mentor or an experienced confidant to help you through the times when you think you’re going crazy – these times will come.

–       Make sure to learn from all those ‘failures’ if you do that they are not failures just lessons.

I have been ‘bold’ on a number of occasions in my adult life and however uncomfortable the short term of the decision was, I believe it has been these moments that have set me apart and propelled me through life to the next big thing or experience.

 By Hilary Rowland

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