When it comes to Full Psycle, a full-body cycling studio poised to take the franchise world by storm, founder and CEO Paul Harmeling breaks the concept down to three key components:
1) It’s a full body workout.
2) It’s fun.
3) It provides measurable results.
Sounds simple. But the simplicity of the model isn’t the only reason that Full Psycle is on a path to become a household name across the country. As the brand prepares to enter the franchise realm, it’s the mixture of the team’s industry experience and passion for the concept that has those across the franchise landscape buzzing.
The origin story of Full Psycle begins with Harmeling, a self-described tech guy who earned a master’s degree from MIT before entering the finance world.
As he navigated the financial waters in his day job, his true passion was beginning to emerge as he witnessed the life-altering impact of his spin classes. What started as a hobby in 2008 began to look like a viable business to Harmeling and his partner, Shelly Scott, by 2012.
They recognized an opening in the fitness industry for an indoor cycling studio that used myriad options available in the technology space to not only track progress but also offer real-time results and encourage classes to beat their previous bests: in essence bringing game theory into the spin studio.
“From a career standpoint, I wanted to do what I loved,” said Harmeling. “But we did also see a great opportunity to come to the market and do something that was completely different than what other people were doing, which was more or less trying to emulate SoulCycle.”
The two took the leap and opened up the first Full Psycle in Orange County, California, in February 2013. The brand has grown since then, now sporting locations in Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach (with a third OC-based studio coming in December), and Chicago, but it was Full Psycle Chicago and a little third party validation that led Harmeling to believe he had a winning concept on his hands.
A technology investor whose company has over 150 clients in the boutique fitness industry reached out to Harmeling and Scott looking to partner in a major metropolitan market.
“That’s when it hit me that we must do this better than a lot of people,” Harmeling said with a laugh. “I thought we were good. I thought we were really good. But you never really know. So it was this validation of what we were doing that led me to believe we had something special here that we could expand and replicate.”
Meanwhile, a power duo in the franchise world was just beginning to discover the booming little brand, and their wheels were spinning at the possibilities to partner with Harmeling and Scott as well.
Pierre Machalany and Judd Miller III have been partners since the two met through their work in the Massage Envy system. That collaboration grew further once the two discovered and invested in European Wax Center. Both massage and waxing had previously been provided as added value services at spas businesses – but coming out of the recession of 2009, and with specialization trending across the business world, the concepts had found an audience all their own.
With that in mind, Machalany and Miller were interested in finding other “ancillary service” brands that were making the leap into a focused, and ultimately franchise-ready, concept. Their research led them to indoor cycling, which like massage and waxing before it, had existed mainly as a component of a larger gym concept.
When they looked across the scope of indoor cycling concepts, Full Psycle stood out above the rest.
“We met Paul and Shelly and liked them immediately,” said Machalany. “We feel like they will be leaders in this industry and this is a concept that is ready to explode.”
“We were looking for an idea that could be taken to the next level and beyond,” added Miller. “After we all met in California, both Pierre and I were convinced that what Paul and Shelly have is unique and very attractive to expand.”
The team, established as Full Psycle Franchising, LLC., is now focused on making a splash in the franchise world with a target of making the franchise opportunity available by the end of 2015. Behind the industry expertise of Machalany and Miller, the team has a blueprint to establish a foothold in key markets such as Los Angeles, New York, and in Machalany and Miller’s backyards of Philadelphia and Houston. The brand will also look to establish partnerships with regional developers to introduce the Full Psycle concept to new markets with an eye toward expanding outward and bringing the Full Psycle experience to upscale shopping centers in major metropolitan areas across the country.
As for a differentiator in the emerging indoor cycling market, Harmeling goes back to the three core components of the Full Psycle experience.
For one, the Full Psycle workout focuses on the entire body with a low impact execution to avoid major stress on joints and knees and the back, areas that take a lot of abuse in high-impact workouts and in daily life. The concept pushes a challenging cardio workout in conjunction with upper body and core attention through hand weights and handle-bar focused exercises.
Secondly, and probably the starkest differentiator to other concepts on the market, is the heavy focus on technology.
“We really embrace technology and use it throughout our classes, the online experience – everything we do has a lot to do with new technology,” said Harmeling.
While many competitors will leave participants dripping sweat – there’s no accounting for what the sweat actually means. Harmeling is proud of the verifiable method they have in place that can measure performance and track progress. It gives the Full Psycle experience both a benchmark to track individual progress but allows for trainers to have fun with things like races between students, between teams within a class, and even between studios, all the while setting goals for the entire class to achieve as a group, which leads to cheering, group motivation and a high sense of community for the participants.
Finally, Full Psycle is fun.
“When we first came up with the concept, we decided that we wanted this class to be a party,” said Harmeling. “We wanted people to equate the experience to that of the coolest night club around. So we have extremely high-quality sound, dynamic lighting and light shows and hire only the best, most fun, most charismatic and most engaging instructors, who play a phenomenal mix of today’s hottest EDM, hip hop, pop and rock. It’s an extremely positive and supportive environment where in every class people are clapping and cheering each other on.”
The team at Full Psycle Franchising, LLC, is bringing that same level of passionate support to franchising where they are excited to partner with regional developers and franchise prospects with the same values and motivation to grow. Though the bikes are stationary, the team is ready to take this concept out on the road.
“The market is ripe for the type of full-body, fun and tech savvy workout that Paul and his trainers have perfected,” said Machalany. “This is the type of concept that you don’t see come along every day, and we are extremely excited to put the plan into action to grow this brand and bring that unique experience to people throughout the U.S.”