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The BFFs who left finance to bring team spirit to boutique fitness

Posner (left), Kocis (center), and McNierney (right)Shop Small Treatment

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Swerve Fitness—the first team-inspired cycling studio, which opened two years ago in New York City’s Flatiron District—is not the work of just one individual.

Instead, lifelong besties and former college athletes Chelsea Kocis, Eric Posner, and John Henry McNierney created it as a team, motivated in part by their love for the intense camaraderie of team sports.

After college, the co-founders all hung up their cleats in favor of finance careers and fell hard for the “sweatworking” scene, taking clients to boutique fitness studios instead of happy hour. But there was a social aspect they thought could be improved upon, so they hatched plans for Swerve, where class-goers ride in teams and the scoreboard shows group metrics, giving riders an extra push they may not have felt since they hit the field in high school.

Here’s how Swerve’s sporty co-founders explain the jump from athletics, to the corporate world, to totally crushing it on the boutique fitness scene (as a team, of course).

Our “aha!” moments
Posner: Working in finance, we found ourselves entertaining clients at fitness boutiques, because it’s an unbelievable way to build relationships. But we thought, “How can we really capture that camaraderie of sports?” It’s a bond that’s truly unique.

McNierny: Once we had the idea that we believed in, we wanted to throw ourselves into it 100 percent and decided to leave our jobs. There’s this great quote, that a lot of people in the corporate world choose to live in unhappiness instead of uncertainty. We decided, “Let’s take a risk.”

Posner: I wouldn’t say we were super unhappy, but we realized that what we were doing wasn’t our true passion.

Swerve 2

Balancing business and fitness time
Kocis: We actually probably log a lot more hours now than we did in our old jobs! If something goes wrong at 5:00 a.m., we have to be there to take care of it. But it gives you that healthy pressure to always be in action and stay in action. And you’re not stuck to a trading desk.

McNierney: We’ve all always worked out, but we definitely do it even more now. All three of us ride at least three or four times a week. This is our product. We created it, and we have to love it. We have to make sure that it’s always growing, always improving.

Posner: But we all have a pretty holistic approach to fitness. All of us do yoga. We lift weights, we do some CrossFit. But in terms of cardio—and I’m not just pitching our product here—we believe we have the best experience on the market.

The rewards of building a workout community
Posner: You get to know more and more people. Now we have thousands of people who come to the studio each month, and getting to know them and how they found us, and how Swerve has impacted their lives—whether it’s losing weight, or the people they’ve met, or the experiences they’ve had taking clients [to our studio], or even having bachelorette parties here—is great. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, it’s allowed us to be curious and to learn in a way that we didn’t have the freedom to in the corporate world.

Swerve 1

What we love most about Small Business Saturday
Kocis: We’ve always had the motto that we want to have that small feeling. Though we have plans to expand, we’re very aware that we always want to remain a small business in whatever community we’re in.

Posner: Starting a business is a very daunting thing, and when we were starting out the amount of support we received from other small business owners was really overwhelming. It gave us a lot of confidence. So we always want to support other small businesses as well.

The best part of owning a fitness business
Kocis: It’s so uplifting. Our riders are coming in here to feel better in one way or another, and being surrounded by that positive energy all the time, it’s contagious. You can’t help it. It spreads into the rest of your life.

Swerve Treatment

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