Mother-daughter duo takes over local cycling studio
Two former instructors at Joyride recently bought the studio from their parent company and are excited to open the doors to New Haveners.
Daliya El Abani, Contributing Photographer
New wheels are turning at Joyride, a cycling studio on Crown Street that two former instructors bought from their parent company on Sept. 16.
Before the pandemic, Joyride had built a small chain of seven indoor cycling studios in Connecticut, but six shut down during the pandemic. Although the New Haven studio was one of the few that had remained profitable, the company’s economic struggles led them to consider either selling it or closing up shop. This moment allowed instructors Heidi Shepherd and Kacey Way to buy the studio.
“I’ve been in this industry for 30 years,” Shepherd said. “When I was in college I started teaching group exercise to make a little money on the side and parlayed that into a personal training company working with women going through breast cancer treatment and recovery, and through that, I’ve been cycling all the way.”
Way, Shepherd’s daughter, was initially a long-distance runner. However, she fell in love with cycling, which she said appealed to her because of its large social component — something that was missing in her previous sport.
Describing the experience of teaching a cycling class at the studio, Way said that although everyone enters the room with different goals, they all are able to support and motivate each other along the way.
“I love being in that room,” Way added. “I love watching other people work hard … I love watching them push themselves to the next level.”
This sentiment is one shared by Joyride’s patrons. Paulina Tein ’25 first went to Joyride last year for her birthday and has tried to go once per week since then, drawn by the atmosphere of the studio.
“There’s a very specific energy and vibe inside,” Tein said. “It’s dark, and you get a very good workout, and I think the biggest thing is the music. It is also very motivating to be there and be in a room of other people who are motivating you and you are motivating them.”
Since they became owners, Shepherd said that she and Way have had to develop a new set of skills on the fly, learning to deal with behind-the-scenes questions of payroll, state licensing and marketing.
Way told the News that as they step into their new role, she and Shepherd are focused on expanding Joyride’s audience, trying to serve more of the New Haven community instead of relying almost completely on Yale students.
“We so badly want to focus on marketing this studio to the New Haven community,” Way said. “We know that Yale, you guys, show up for us, and you have over the last eight years, and we are so grateful. But I do think that one of the challenges we are ready, willing and excited to take on is getting into other types of New Haven communities and just letting them know we are there.”
According to Shepherd, she and Way had begun taking on management work before officially becoming owners. They are now looking forward to working for themselves and bringing their perspectives as instructors to their new leadership roles, with hopes to expand their class offerings and reach out to new clients.
As they settle into their new position, Shepherd and Way said that one of their biggest concerns is name and brand recognition. Likely in December or January, Joyride will be rebranded, although the name is not ready to be disclosed to the public. Both owners described being excited for the change but worried that clients might think that Joyride had been replaced, or that more than just the name had changed.
“We will be rebranding, but, however, the team is remaining the same,” Way told the News.
Joyride is located at 199 Crown St.