Heather Chilcot | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Heather Chilcot


Core Cycle Studios is a boutique fitness facility in Timonium, Maryland, that specializes in body-changing workout experiences through cycle, barre, and sculpting classes. Core Cycle Studios celebrated its one-year anniversary on Feb. 27 by giving back to the community, donating 100 percent of its class proceeds for the day to the One Love Foundation. Founded in 2010 to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, One Love’s mission is to end relationship abuse by educating young people about healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors and empowering them to be leaders driving change in their communities.

The Mistake:

It’s a little cliche to say, but like many entrepreneurs, my mistake was taking on too much at one time.

Our business is focused on three different fitness programs: indoor cycle, barre and yoga. We’ve built this very special community of people in just one year, and it’s pretty inspiring to see. With three different fitness programs, we’ve seen two really take off. Cycling is the most popular with barre coming in as a close second. However, we’ve really struggled with the yoga program.

We didn’t just open a fitness studio, we opened three fitness studios under one roof. We have a cycle business, a yoga business, and a barre business. Each one of the fitness programs has its own personality, its own following, its own instructor base, and its own vibe.

It’s been challenging to spend as much time as necessary in each one of those pockets. I spent 14 years in the corporate world prior to opening this business. I know that unless the CEO or business leader is 100 percent invested, unless they’re there and attending each class and partnering with all the business people running that vertical, the business won’t thrive.

We look a lot at attendance, class size, and consistency of class size. As a business leader you don’t want to continue to run classes that are so small or aren’t populated. So we made the decision to pause our yoga schedule. We’ve taken it off of our day-to-day and weekly schedule, and we’re just focusing on events now where we can promote them ahead of time.

We didn’t just open a fitness studio, we opened three fitness studios under one roof.

The Lesson:

If you don’t have an anchor person invested in the program — in this case it would be me fully invested in a yoga program — the program can’t succeed. If we could have done it, I would have hired more resources at the top so there would be someone in a leadership role in each one of our programs. But that takes money, and we couldn’t do it when we first opened.

I’m able to manage the two programs, but unless I have a leadership-style person to share and market the word of yoga and its benefits to our community, I have to slow down and grow the business where it currently is.

If I ever opened a second business I know that I’d have to have other leaders with me at the top to be able to really be successful. Maybe if we just opened a cycle studio these lessons wouldn’t be there for me.

If you can’t provide enough time, resources and focus to a business, service offering or product launch, it most likely will struggle or won’t be successful. If you have a great idea and the leadership isn’t completely bought in or isn’t communicating the benefits or the value of it, it’s not going to do as well as it could do.

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email cberman@crain.com.

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