When Meaghan Severson hops up on her spin bike and clips in you can feel her demeanor change. Alone in her studio you can see that the bike actually calms her (a stark contrast to the energy she pumps into her spin classes). Meaghan, the founder and co-owner of Rev’d Cycling Studio, is vibrant and bubbly if you meet her in any other setting, but on her bike she is completely focused. She settles into the cadence of the moving pedals and pushes the wheels.
“Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to be the one to push the wheel forward each day,” Meaghan says when discussing the day-to-day grind of opening and running Rev’d Indoor Cycling, a chain of indoor spinning studios with two locations outside of Boston (and one more under construction). “But then you remember why you’re doing it and you’re like alright, suit up, strap up, let’s go,” she adds with a smile.
Meaghan is built like an athlete with the personality of a performer. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to find out she began her career in broadcast journalism. Working locally at NESN, Meaghan covered college sports on-camera and wrote and produced for professional baseball and soccer. At the time, Meaghan thought that this was her dream job. She supplemented the low pay with bartending and eventually personal training to keep working in television.
Through personal training, Meaghan unearthed a desire to help people. “In sports broadcasting you are reporting scores and discussing the players. It’s not like I was in Afghanistan reporting hard news, so I didn’t feel like I was making a difference,” said Meaghan. “Then at the gym I would have a client that would lose 35 lbs. and their life would change. I was like, oh wow, I changed something that matters.”
Around this time in Meaghan’s career there was a players’ strike, making it hard to find jobs in sports broadcasting. Meaghan was forced to apply to “real jobs” in the corporate world and had far less time for fitness. It was then, that Rev’d co-founder Clyde Simms came into her life through a mutual friend.
Clyde was a professional soccer player – having played seven years with D.C. United and two with the New England Revolution. Knowing he would be retiring soon due to ongoing health issues but wanting to stay involved in sports and fitness, he looked to Meaghan to introduce him to the world of boutique fitness. After one spin class he said to Meaghan, “We can do this.” And thus, the two began their search for a space to start their own boutique spin studio.
No sooner did the two sign the lease on their first space in Dedham, Mass. did Clyde’s health start to deteriorate, and fast. You can read more about Clyde’s health journey here and later when we talk to him on Output Magazine.
[After we signed the lease] “I thought the hard work and being scared was over,” said Meaghan. “But at the time we were supposed to begin the buildout, Clyde’s health began deteriorating.” Meaghan describes his state, “he got so sick, his kidneys shut down and he was living in the hospital for weeks, sicker than I’ve ever seen him.”
By this time Meaghan had already quit her full time job so she continued teaching spin, bartending and spending her time on smallbusiness.com to do everything she could to get the studio built and their business of the ground. “To make that long story short, he and I never said maybe we should delay this,” she said.
“All I kept thinking was now this has to be even better because god forbid he doesn’t make it I have to do this for him.”
To this day Meaghan has never taken a sick day because of what she watched Clyde go through: “If he can show up to work after being hooked up to a dialysis machine for 6 hours I can get up and do this no matter how tired I am or how sore I am, I can do it.”
Today the partners are closer than ever (they are not a couple contrary to what many believe). Meaghan tells me she has never been so close with someone that wasn’t a significant other, “I’ve never loved someone so much in that way. You’re so inspired by them. You know how to fight with each other and then send them a funny video.”
Clyde’s health improved and he eventually received a kidney transplant. The pair opened their first studio in Dedham in August of 2014 and followed up quickly with a second location at Patriot’s Place in Foxboro, Mass. The classes are packed and the community of cyclers dedicated to the 45 minute rides at Rev’d Indoor Cycling is growing. The business has done so well it has just announced a third location will be opening in Burlington, Mass. in 2017.
This isn’t a surprise. Boutique fitness has become wildly popular across the country, in fact, Research conducted by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) shows that in 2014, the U.S. health club industry tallied $24.2 billion in revenue, a 7.4 percent increase from 2013, according to IHRSA, and “much of the industry’s growth has come from smaller boutiques and sport-specific studios.”
This influx of money however, is not what drives Meaghan to not only manage the studios but also teach up to four spinning classes a day. She is driven by the lives she changes in her classes, Clyde himself, and by her passion for the Rev’d product: “SoulCycle is moving in right nextdoor to us and I’m pumped to have the competition so close,” she said.
“When you have a superior product who wouldn’t want the opportunity to prove it?”
What makes Rev’d so unique goes back to the gratification Meaghan felt as a personal trainer - it’s the lives of the people in their community that they change. “No matter how big Rev’d gets I never want it to lose it’s warmth,” said Meaghan. “It’s our community, our staff, our instructors, it’s the people that make us different.”