Just about every day, I walk up the steps at Sixers Move or enter the lobby of 6YCLE’s South Side spin studio and discover something new. Maybe it’s a holiday-themed balloon display, a convenient shoe storage rack, brand-new exercise equipment — or even flamingo-printed wallpaper that wasn’t there that morning. When I mentioned this to 6YCLE and Sixers Move co-owner Taylor Guthrie, she laughed.
“That’s all Jess!” said Guthrie. “She’s the DIY master. I remember when we first started working on our South Side studio, I walked in and Jess was doing work on the floors. She told me, ‘We can’t afford to have anyone come in and do this, so we’re going to figure it out!’”
Since that very first day, Guthrie and her business partner Jessica Simms have put more sweat equity into 6YCLE than they can measure. After opening their first spin studio in the South Side in December 2017, they soon expanded to a second location in the South Hills, created an online streaming platform for their spin and hybrid mat classes called Sixers Move, and even opened a physical Sixers Move studio in Mount Washington just a few months later.
“I’d worked as a spin instructor in college, but the idea of starting a business of our own… That was all new to me,” Guthrie said. “But Jess and I were passionate about the idea and knew it could work. I was even working in a much different field at the time, but when I talked to my former supervisor about the idea, he told me that I can’t not follow my passion.”
Seeing Guthrie and Simms at work together, one might be surprised to learn that they aren’t in fact lifelong friends, but instead became close by partnering to bringing 6YCLE to life.
“When people find out that we co-own a business together, a lot of people ask us, “How do you get along so well?’” said Guthrie. “The truth is, we focus on work first, and then our friendship is the fun part of it. At the end of the day, our business is our priority — it has to come first.”
Guthrie and Simms met through mutual friends while Simms was running an event planning business. Guthrie soon became involved, and when Simms approached her with the idea of creating a spin studio in the South Side, she was quickly interested.
“When we first started our business, we were two really young women who wanted to make this idea work so bad and prove that it could work,” said Guthrie. “Now, we feel more confident. We try to just be business owners at the end of the day.”
Of course, it wasn’t always easy. Simms and Guthrie encountered many challenges and roadblocks on their way to owning their own business, but they hope that their experiences and knowledge as entrepreneurs can help inspire future women in business. That’s why they launched the “Not So Sweet Podcast” earlier this year.“Our podcast is a way for us to talk about our experience starting our own small business,” said Guthrie. “We aren’t sugarcoating anything — we’re discussing our struggles and how we overcame them, but with a funny take on things. There are so many strong women out there now with amazing ideas for their own small businesses, and I hope that we’ve inspired some of them to take the plunge.”
6YCLE was the first studio in Pittsburgh to offer hybrid classes, which have since become popular with spin class devotees around the country.
“Our spin classes are all cadence-based, so your pace will match with the music we’re playing,” explained Guthrie. “Our hybrid classes started with our ‘Burn’ HIIT-style class as well as ‘Build,’ which is similar to barre, and soon we’ll be introducing more hybrid classes that emphasize whole-body workouts — especially the upper body. It’s important to us that our classes are fun and unique, so we’re always thinking of new ways to make it our own.”
Like many small businesses around the world, 6YCLE had to quickly adapt its business model in response to the challenges and restrictions brought on by the COVID—19 pandemic.
“Truthfully, we’ve always had roadblocks in our way and curveballs thrown at us since the beginning,” said Guthrie. “When the pandemic happened, it just felt like another curveball being thrown at us. We’re really good at quickly figuring out a new plan, so we started by renting our bikes from our studios to local clients and teaching classes through Instagram Live.”
Soon, the demand for instructor-led classes surpassed what Guthrie and Simms had anticipated, and shortly after, Sixers Move was born.
“We built the Sixers Move website in a day and started recording classes right away,” said Guthrie. “Now we upload new classes every week!”
With the risk of not being able to reopen due to the COVID—19 pandemic on their minds, Guthrie and Simms put all their energy into keeping 6YCLE in business — not just for themselves, but for their loyal clients who happily call themselves “Sixers.”
“I hoped and dreamed that something like this would happen, but never in a million years did I think it would be such an amazing community,” said Guthrie. “For the first six months that we were open, people were just getting to know us… Then suddenly one month our classes were full, and the month after that, we were a real community of ‘Sixers.’
“Before we opened, I thought that our South Side location would do well with our friends in the area at first,” she continued. “But since then I’ve made so many lifelong friendships with people who I’ve met when they came into the studio. It’s so heartwarming to see this community that’s been built here, and, really it’s our clients who’ve made it a reality.”
Following up on the success of their first three locations, Guthrie and Simms have big plans to grow their business and expand in the coming years.
“Our original goal was to someday have five studios in the Pittsburgh area and five in other states because we love traveling and exploring new cities, but we’ve always wanted to remain based here in Pittsburgh,” Guthrie explained. “Our immediate goal is opening our fourth studio in Greensburg this spring, and next we’ll be working on opening our first studio out of state.”
Dallas, Houston, and Nashville are all on the shortlist for the next 6YCLE location, but pop-up classes and special events are on the schedule this spring all across the U.S.
“Soon, we’ll be hosting pop-up events for Sixers Move in multiple cities so that we can introduce more people to our online platform and get our name out there,” Guthrie said. “We’ve got so much to look forward to in 2021!”
If you’re interested in 6YCLE’s spin and hybrid classes or the mat classes offered at Sixers Move, visit 6YCLE.com or SixersMove.com to purchase an unlimited class pass for 15 consecutive days for just $15! Looking for an at-home fitness experience offering both spin and mat classes with the same fun energy and intensity as a studio? Try Sixers Move’s streaming platform for three days for free.This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.