March 14, 2016
Jen Cohen Crompton ’05
Office: Fuel Cycle Fitness (indoor cycling and boxing fitness)
Where: 53 Rittenhouse Place, Ardmore, Pa., opened Jan. 4, 2016
Title: Owner/Instructor with husband, Jeff Crompton
Q. Describe a work day at the gym.
A. I wake up around 4:35 a.m. and go to the studio to teach a 5:30 a.m. class. Jeff comes in at 6, and we both teach classes at 6:30. We finish at 7:30 a.m. and he goes to his day job while I go home to be with my son (we have a nanny for the early morning hours), and I continue to work from home on my previous business, a marketing business, called Something Creative. I work throughout the day and I try to get a lot done when my son naps. I am back at Fuel Cycle Fitness by 5 p.m. for evening classes and Jeff meets me there by 6 p.m. for his classes.
Q. Tell us about your career path since graduating Ursinus.
A. I was a major in media and communications studies, with minors in french and exercise and sport science (now health and exercise physiology). To obtain my ESS minor, I bit the bullet and took an 8 a.m. Friday morning class my senior year, which I guess taught me that early morning “business” pays off. After Ursinus, I earned my master’s degree in public relations at Rowan University. I then held a few marketing positions and eventually went on to run a successful marketing business. I like to say that everything I’ve ever done until now has led me down the path of launching our studio — and hopefully that collection of experiences and lessons has helped us do it in the best way we possibly could. But, let’s be real, we are still making mistakes.
Q. But an indoor cycling and boxing studio? How did that happen?
A. I was always involved in teaching fitness, and Jeff and I started taking boxing classes together in 2011 when we got engaged. I enjoyed and still enjoy my work as a digital and content marketing consultant and adjunct professor, but at one point, I said, ‘I want to do more of what makes me happy,’ which is helping people become healthier and happier. The whole idea was deep-rooted and in how we [Jeff and I] want to change the world one drop of hard-earned sweat at a time.
So, two years ago we both decided that we wanted to own a business that made people happy — and that resulted in the fitness studio. For us, indoor cycling and boxing were what we considered the yin and yang of exercise; together, they work all your muscles. We began our research and looked at different neighborhoods, worked with focus groups, and researched the best equipment. We found the physical space last August and were set on making it happen.
More than that, the inner process was that I wanted to do something I was passionate about.
I trained and taught at a large fitness company and built a following (and some followed me here), but whenever I was in those places, I kept thinking that it could be better — we could provide a better overall experience. At those clubs, there was too much focus on membership deals and not enough on keeping the environment clean and welcoming. Here we provide a great experience. There is a preconception of a boxing gym and indoor cycling gym — and this is not either. We are building a community of people who want to work hard and empower others to do the same. We’re the fuel.
Q. What is the one tool or skill you need every day?
A. Here are two: patience and humility. You need to know that the seeds you plant will grow — maybe not all of them, but those that are nurtured. Oh, and the ability to multitask.
Q. Can you relate your Ursinus experience to opening the fitness studio?
A. Well, I played soccer and intramural sports, so I was an athlete and always had a competitive and team-oriented mindset. I was also a tour guide, and from that I became interested in marketing. But mostly, at Ursinus I was encouraged to try things. The community was small but supportive, and there were so many opportunities to find your stride. Those opportunities built my confidence. I also went to Australia for study abroad without knowing any other students, and I was encouraged to explore. I grew leaps and bounds on that trip as I navigated a new world on my own, and I was able reach a different level of confidence. I learned to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Also, I loved a photography class with [retired art department faculty] Don Camp. It was not just about taking pictures. Instead, it was learning how to express yourself and to listen to what speaks to you. Right now, I am excited about the U-Imagine Center. I love the initiative and love that I’ve had the chance to get involved and give back.
Q. You are only 10 years out of college and have started your second business. What do you predict will come next?
A. Who knows? For this business, we’re planning to take our bikes on the road and launch pop-up cycle classes at corporate places and events. This studio is a vehicle for us to find ways to empower businesses and entrepreneurs … and we may even bring boxing on tour, if we can bring it to them and we can make them healthier. But, I don’t think there is ever an end.
One thing that keeps me going is listening and learning from others. [Entrepreneur and author] Jen Groover’s mantra is, “Be more afraid of regret than failure.” That helped us get this studio going — and sometimes it gets me out of bed. In the end, all we can ask of ourselves is to try and do our best. For us, we realized that trying was the first step and that failure was not an option. So, we have the power (and an amazing support system of friends and family beside us) and will make it happen.