by Len Lear
To those she works with, she is a lifesaver. Caitlin McKeon, 32, of Oreland, was happy to endorse her trainer, Allison “Alli” Bradley, 28, one of the more remarkable businesspeople in Chestnut Hill.
“I have been working with Alli – who is such an amazing person – since the summer to ‘rehab,’ so to speak,” McKeon said. “We do laugh a lot, and I feel not only has my body gotten stronger, but so has my overall morale.”
Bradley, who runs from three to eight miles three or four times a week, discovered “spinning” while a senior at Springford High School in Royersford, near Collegeville. (“Spinning,” or indoor cycling, is a form of aerobic exercise that uses a stationary bike. It is an intense cardio workout.)
“My friend’s mom had just opened a studio and invited me to give it a try,” she said. “I instantly fell in love with the atmosphere of the studio, the music and, of course, the energy.”
Bradley, who had no business experience, did not go to college and chose instead to take a job as a 40-hour-a-week nanny for Lynne Mastrilli, owner of Greene Street Consignment, which has two locations in Chestnut Hill. That role is what first brought Bradley to the neighborhood.
In 2014, with the encouragement and support of Mastrilli (Bradley was her nanny for five years and business assistant for two years), the physical fitness buff was able to walk out on the high wire without a net and opened Chestnut Hill Cycle Fitness, behind Cosimo’s Pizza Café.
“She [Mastrilli] was a successful businesswoman, and she showed me it was possible to be successful in business as a woman,” Bradley said. “She mentored me, which was a breakthrough for me. She instilled confidence in me. It is hard for me to sit still at a desk for hours at a time and hard for me to have a boss, so being my own boss feels right.”
Despite the confidence and mentorship, starting her own business was challenging.
“The first year in business was the hardest year of my life,” Bradley said. “After six months I was thrown out of my location because the new owner wanted a quieter place. That was so stressful because I went to a place (89 Bethlehem Pike) with higher rent. I was working 40 hours as a nanny and also instructing 12 or 13 classes a week, 45 minutes each one. My knees were going.”
And then it got worse.
“My younger brother, Daniel, 21, died of a drug overdose,” Bradley said. “He was taking courses at a community college. A great guy and a great athlete, but he struggled with depression and anxiety. I gave a talk at the funeral and taught classes the next morning. It was devastating. I was also medicating myself with exercise. ‘What am I doing to myself?,’ I thought.”
But Bradley’s “work-around-the-clock” regimen has paid significant dividends. Today, while celebrating five years in business, she has 12 instructors, hundreds of clients from Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy, Oreland, Flourtown, etc., and 21 new “spinning” bikes. She also has barre classes with small weights – no impact, all ages, with nine or 10 people in a class.
“So far we’ve had 1,293 distinct visits in the business the last 30 days and 21 new clients in last 30 days,” she said.
The Chestnut Hill resident, who is also a vegetarian because of health reasons and because she loves animals, added the barre classes last year and “Sculpt” this year.
“That is all about strengthening and toning,” Bradley said. “Like boot camp. It is a full-body workout. We are a one-stop shop, open seven days a week. I also do private training.”
She also sells lululemon clothing, fitness shakes and protein bars.
“I wanted to empower people,” she said. “I would not have gotten to this point if I wasn’t so motivated. I am an endorphin dealer. People come to me after a bad day at work or a divorce, and I feel we are all in this together. This is my church. I feel like helping other people helps me keep Daniel’s spirit alive.”
Bradley also donates proceeds from certain classes to a local rehab. Then latest was Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes families.
“This studio is a haven,” she said. “A little bit of a cure. Parents come here and are doing something really good for themselves. The mantra this week, cheesy or not, is ‘Whatever is good for the soul, do that.’”
For more information, visit CHCycleFitness.com or call 484-369-9206.