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Meet Hilary Rowland from Boom Cycle

Founded by Hilary Rowland, the idea for the business came about when she first moved to London in 2009 to be closer to her now husband and business partner, Robert. While Hilary worked as a full-time model by day, a career that had served her well for over 13 years, keeping fit was one of her passions. It was here that the idea for Boom Cycle was born and Hilary decided to take the leap and turn her personal passion into a full-time career.


What did you set out to achieve when you first created Boom Cycle?

When I first moved to London, I found that a lot of spin classes were really lacking the fun, upbeat vibes that I was used to in the U.S. and it would often feel like a real struggle to get through to the end of the class. I really wanted to make the whole work out experience fun! So many people view working out as a chore, but it doesn’t have to be, with Boom Cycle our number one goal was to make the class something you look forward to. With our workouts there’s no measurement – it’s all done off feeling, there’s no competition – it’s all in the dark, so it’s really like a nightclub experience and all about having fun and feeling great.


Your husband is your business partner, how does that work and do you have any tips for other couples planning to go into business together?

A lot of people ask how we make this work, but for us, it was definitely the right decision. We have complimentary skill sets, so we’re a good pair and will often see things from different perspectives. We each focus on different areas and have clearly defined roles, which is important. What’s great is that we’re both working towards the same goals and we’re on the same journey, so it’s great to have that element of support and encouragement sitting alongside you.

My main piece of advice to other couples in the same boat would be to get a really solid, well thought out shareholders agreement, so you’re covered – just in case anything does go wrong! Also, agree your separate roles and responsibilities early on, so you’re clear on what each of you will look after. This will help to avoid any disagreement or crossover further down the line.

For anyone who is looking to turn their passion project into a business, just like you did, how did you get it off the ground?

You’ve just got to get going with it! Keep putting one foot in front of the other and start to move forward with your idea. In the beginning this can be simply putting pen to paper and getting your ideas down – remember, it doesn’t have to be your final idea, but this will help you to start developing it. In the very early days, I used to dedicate around two afternoons per week to working on the Boom Cycle plan and slowly but surely it started to consume more and more of my time.

It’s not always easy, but if it’s something your passionate about, you’ll dedicate the time to making it a success. Initially, we had help from angel investors, some of which were friends and have gone on to become my mentors. These people are great and will help you so much in the early days, so try and surround yourself with really smart people that can help you on your journey. We’re lucky enough to have the David Lloyd on our board, so he has been so invaluable in bringing his experience and advice to the table.

Lastly, always trust your own instinct! Take advice from others, but sometimes you just have to follow your own instinct. After all, it is your business and you are going to be closer to it than anyone else.

How do you overcome challenging times like Covid-19?

We’ve been very lucky in the fact that our landlords have been very flexible and supportive throughout the pandemic. We’re also very lucky in the fact that a few year’s ago we made the decision to bring our team over to full employment, as in the fitness industry a lot of instructors are freelance. We wanted them to benefit from paid holidays and other benefits and so the upside of that is that everyone who works at Boom Cycle was covered by the furlough scheme, something we are thankful for.

Ultimately, you need to be agile and able to adapt to different situations. One way that we did this throughout the pandemic is through partnering with the in-home exercise bike company, Apex Bikes. They’re bringing the spin class experience to your own home through their high-tech bikes that link to instructor-led classes through your iPad or Smartphone and we’ve been working with them to lead these classes. It’s slightly different to the Boom Cycle experience as you don’t get the nightclub experience surrounded by a group of people, but it’s fun and something that complements our brand.

It’s also times like these that show why having an amazing team around you is so important too. Throughout all of this, the Boom Cycle team have been complete rockstars and we’re so excited to have now been able to re-open two of our studios, with a third opening next week – it wouldn’t have been possible without them!

How do you ensure that your fitness passion remains your passion when it is also your business?

Honestly, the class side of things has never felt like work. Whether I’m leading a class or taking a class it is still as fun as day one and I always come out feeling pumped and energised. I also like running and other forms of exercise, so I don’t just do spin, which I think helps to keep things fresh. When it’s something you are truly passionate about, you tend to love what you do day in and day out. Yes, there’s going to be difficult times, but that’s why rest days and downtime are important too. Time away to clear your head is just as important as the hard work that you put in.

What’s your favourite song on your playlist that gets you pumped and ready to go?

I have loads but my ultimate favourites have to be ‘Gangsta Boogie’ by Chase & Status ft. Knytro and ‘Get Shaky’ by the Ian Carey Project. They’re not the newest of songs but right now they really get me in game mode!

What has been your biggest learning curve as an entrepreneur?

I want to say that even when you hit big benchmarks, it often doesn’t really bring the relief you might have expected. You’re always working towards reaching the next milestone, but once you’ve got there, you then have your sights set on the next one. It’s important that you take the time to appreciate what you’ve achieved and reward yourself for hitting these milestones – personally, I’m a fan of a fancy holiday, that’s my way of taking a step back and thinking, ‘I did that!’

What advice do you have for those planning to turn their passion project into a business?

Throw any expectations you have before you get going out the window – it’s likely that it will never be exactly what you imagined. Have resilience – always keep going! Always remember that you need sleep, sleep is important and is your friend!

Protect your time – for your own sanity and for the sanity of those around you, you can’t always do everything and there will always be more to do, so don’t run yourself into the ground.

Seek good legal advice – this is invaluable. Set out really clear brand ideals – these are so important in setting your brand apart from the rest of the crowd and for reminding yourself why you started the brand in the first place.

To watch the full interview, watch it on our IGTV here.

Our competition is now open and we’re giving budding entrepreneurs the chance to win £20,000 grand prize so they can take their Passion Project to the next level. Read more about it here and click here to apply to the competition. Please ensure you’ve read the Terms and Conditions carefully before applying.

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