I am thrilled to share my second Caitlin Crowe Wellness Blog feature about my dear friend Carolyn Williams! Carolyn and I first met at the Peloton cycling studio in New York City. Carolyn previously lived in Portland, Maine and was a source of inspiration in my decision to move to Portland. Since then, she relocated to Bozeman, Montana and started her very own cycling studio called Zephyr Cycling Studio. We both believe in the transformative power of movement and music, especially when combined. I am so proud of her for taking the leap into following her deepest dreams.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Carolyn Williams and I am the founder + owner of Zephyr Cycling Studio in Bozeman, Montana. I believe wholeheartedly in the life-changing and transformative power of movement, especially when accompanied by a rockin’ playlist. Zephyr itself is a space for connection, wellness, transformation and rejuvenation and my team and I strive to create a community in which every person feels welcome and uplifted by Zephyr’s rhythm-based, music focused and motivational classes.
2. Tell us about how Zephyr Cycling Studio came to fruition. How did it all begin?
I struggled after college to figure out what it was that I truly loved to do - until I walked into a rhythm-based indoor cycling class in Manhattan. As a music nerd at heart, I never considered myself an athlete nor did I recognize the transformative magic of movement until I connected so deeply with indoor cycling. The workout combined with the spiritual, mental and emotional aspects of the indoor cycling classes I was taking changed my life. I moved a lot after college and eventually realized that not everywhere had amazing spin classes and that in order to continue having the experience I craved on the bike, I was going to have to create it. So, I began teaching, which ignited a spark in me the likes of which I had never felt before. I taught as much as I could (shout out to Worlds Gym and Rêve Cycling Studio in Portland, Maine, for giving me my first gigs!) and after I moved home to my native Montana, realized that the next step in growing my passion would be bringing the first indoor cycling studio to the state. Just over a year after I moved home, I opened Zephyr.
3. What inspired you from taking your first indoor cycling class, to becoming an instructor, to opening your own studio?
See above! Mainly, I thought for so long that I would never find what made me tick. Once I did, I realized I had to pursue it as much as I possibly could.
4. How do you balance teaching classes at Zephyr, running the studio and owning a business?
I wake up every single day so wholeheartedly grateful for my life. It's one for which I hardly dared dreamed or hoped and I find that grounding my days in gratitude makes whatever happens easier to handle. I've learned to let go and trust the incredible people I've hired to carry out Zephyr's mission (my dream!), which they do so beautifully every single day. I walk my dogs which is an opportunity to reset and get outside and spend time in nature with two of the hearts I hold most dear. I sweat it out at Zephyr, I get as much sleep as I possibly can, and I try to start the day with something healthy (typically smoothies!). As far as the nitty gritty - I have a mean Trello board that keeps me organized and allows me to track day to day tasks as well as bigger picture goals, weekly meetings with team members to make sure we're on the same page, and a Google calendar that holds me accountable for meetings!
5. What have you learned about yourself and others through teaching indoor cycling?
So many things. I've learned more about life in indoor cycling studios than anywhere else on the planet! But one of the truths that continues to resonate with me is that not one of us is alone in our struggles, our heartaches, our challenges. I can't count the number of times someone has said to me after class, "It's like you were speaking directly to me!" And anything I ever say on the bike is a reflection of my own personal experience. Life can feel so isolating at times but my hope for the people who walk into Zephyr is that they know they're in a space that encourages feeling, self-expression, and non-judgment - and that they'll find a supportive community regardless of their life experience. Sometimes (oftentimes) those intentional pedal strokes are the first steps to creating real change and grown in our lives rooted in self-acceptance and compassion for ourselves and those around us.
6. What have you learned about starting and running your own business?
Brené Brown says that "feeling fear is not the barrier. Responding to it is." What I've learned more than anything is that fear - fear of beginning, fear of tough conversations, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of what other people think - will hold you back if you let it. Had fear won in my own life, Zephyr wouldn't exist. But the most valuable lesson Zephyr has taught me is that fear is often an indicator that I'm headed in the right direction - it's not a reason to stop myself in my tracks.
7. What has been your biggest challenge in/since launching Zephyr?
Trusting my gut, 100%. I've faced so many situations in which I never imagined I'd find myself and learning to trust myself to make the right decision has been the biggest but most rewarding challenge of the journey so far.
8. What is your vision for the future of Zephyr?
The vision is in the works and very top of mind for me right now as I determine how to manage our growth. But one thing really stands out to me - Zephyr classes themselves are a catalyst and vehicle for transformative change on personal, spiritual, emotional, physical and mental levels. I'd love to expand our programming to include more opportunities to grow in all of those areas - beyond the bike. Another studio is definitely a possibility, as well. Stay tuned!
9. What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness to me means finding a safe, warm, loving, light-filled home within your own self and body and honoring it as such through the choices we make regarding how we move it, what we feed it and when we rest it.
10. Why do you Zephyr and why should others give Zephyr a spin?
I Zephyr to remind myself that of all the rhythms, cadences, pulses in life, the most important one is with me every single second of every single day. I spent the entirety of my life up until about NOW denying my heart its full voice. Zephyr has brought it into the foreground and for that I will be forever grateful because wholehearted living is where it's at! I'd love for others to be able to discover this as well or, at the very least, recognize that they're not stuck - riding bikes to nowhere can actually help you move through everything and is incredibly empowering and freeing.