A Fitness Studio for EveryoneJune 20, 2017 6:49 am
Charlotte native Karen Hill always felt off when she played sports or exercised. After a health scare at age 25 she found out why: Karen has heart disease and another heart condition that affects her muscular and vascular systems. Instead of letting her conditions hold her back, Hill used the road bumps as part of the vision for opening her own small business, First Wind Cycling and Fitness, a boutique fitness studio in the heart of South End.
When Hill was first diagnosed with her conditions, she experienced hearing and vision loss when her heart rate would get too high, meaning exercise was not an option. After being told she couldn’t drive her car because of the risk of blacking out, Hill began walking to work.
“It started feeling better and better and I started feeling like I had a little more energy to do things,” said Hill. Walking turned into testing out running on a treadmill and running turned into cycling and seeing what else her body was capable of.
After her first spin class, Hill was hooked and knew she wanted to use her education in entrepreneurship to open her own fitness studio. Once a business plan, funding and a location were secured, Hill was ready to ride and opened First Wind in August of 2015. Since the studio’s opening, Hill and her staff have strived to create a place that is welcoming to people with all backgrounds and fitness levels, focusing classes around each person’s perceived exertion as opposed to creating a competitive environment.
“It’s a place for everyone,” said Hill. “If you’ve ever felt intimidated by group classes, this is the place to come to try it and not feel that way.” First Wind offers a variety of classes and programs including spin-only Feel the Ride and See the Ride classes, classes that combine workouts like the half-cycling, half-barre Ride to the Barre class, and personalized fitness programs including a new VIP Transformation Program that works closely with a small group to help them reach their strength and wellness goals.
With First Wind’s second birthday coming up in August, the studio will be revamping its classes and adding more technology to its bikes, including a system that will offer post-class emails to riders letting them know how they did each class. One thing that won’t change is the studio’s focus on fun, health and a welcoming environment will stay the same.