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Cycling Studio Drives Business Up the Manayunk Wall

The Wall Cycling Studio debuts just in time for bike race.

Julie Sabella knows how important search engine optimization, or SEO, is for a small business. The Manayunk resident, 27, now owns and operates her own new business, The Wall Cycling Studio, 100 Levering St.

Before launching her own indoor cycling studio, which debuted May 14, Sabella worked as a buyer with Sports Unlimited, an athletic equipment supplier. However, after Google changed some rules, the company failed to receive prominence with the search engine's new algorithm. Business slackened, and Sabella lost her job.

Sabella tried to find other jobs, but all signs pointed to her own path.

"I always wanted to do something like this. When I was 8-years-old, I'd offer to paint people's nails for money," she said, adding her parents are business owners, too.

She decided to translate the hours and hours of indoor cycling, or Spin classes, into her job. She became a Mad Dogg Certified Spinning Instructor and decided to open her own studio in Manayunk.

But what to call it?

"My friends and I got together and thought: 'What do people think about when they think of Manayunk?' The bike race, the restaurants. One friend said, 'Off the Wall,' and we thought it flowed better as just 'The Wall,'" Sabella said.

Very search-engine friendly.

The studio is right at the base of the famed Manayunk Wall, the iconic hilly stretch of the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship.

The Studio and Classes

Formerly a tanning salon, The Wall broke down a few walls and exists as two main rooms—a lobby and a ring of stationary bikes. Sabella spreads 14 bikes plus an instructor's bike in the space.

She currently offers six, 45-minute classes each weekday—(5:15, 6:15 and 7:15 both a.m. and p.m.). That's in addition to weekend classes, and future open cycling hours during the day. The Wall employs nine instructors, according to its website.

Sabella's goal is allow each teacher to create her own scene.

"I really want my instructors to make the class reflect who they are. Every single person is different, and it's great for us to offer different things," she said.

A lot of teachers darken the room and get the music going. Others employ gimmicks, like leaving prizes under someone's seat, Sabella said.

She said the social element to a class is key. She's frequently running mother-daughter specials to encourage that aspect.

Everyone Can Get Fit

Philadelphia has a reputation for being an unhealthy city. With many fitness studios, gyms and training centers open in Manayunk, Sabella said she's excited to join these businesses in improving Philly's health.

"I don't think we're in competition, either. With small businesses, you have to work together—especially if it's a slow summer," she said. The Wall already announced a membership partnership with nearby .

In addition, she strives to keep prices reasonable for the middle-class families and young adults.

"Everything needs to be affordable for the town. Fitness shouldn't be a privilege," she said. Many classes now cost $10, and bulk packages area also available.

One stereotype Sabella wants to change is men's involvement in the activity. It's not inaccurate that women dominate the activity, but Sabella is encouraged.

"Guys who like to sweat will come in here and not be disappointed. And a guy was the first person to buy a 90-day package," she said.

The Wall Cycling Studio is open daily. Look for grand opening events starting June 1—just in time for the Manayunk bike race. Follow it on Facebook, Twitter, or its website for more information.

Marlene McCormick May 25, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I cycled st the wall for the very first time at age 56 They have all level classes I love it! People are so friendly and supportive !
Sam Fran Scavuzzo (Editor) May 25, 2012 at 02:27 PM
That's great, Marlene. I forgot to mention Julie's dog Brooklyn is the often-present mascot of The Wall, too.

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