She’s at the front of the room wearing a lime green shirt, blue leggings and pink bike shoes that match the studio. She’s teaching a small class, but you could never tell.
She has the same energy she’d have if it were a full class. After class is over, she asks how the riders held up, and you can see her teacher side. You can see that it’s more than just a business to her. To Mel, it’s about helping people grow and reach their goals.
Mel Blaine is a research biologist and the owner of Posh Cycling and Fitness in Prince George’s County. She originally moved to the area to work in an immunology lab. Teaching cycling started as a hobby and turned into a dream.
Mel keeps the small crowd pumped. Everyone is sweaty and breathing heavy, but she makes sure they keep pushing. At one point, she hops off her bike and is walking back and forth to make sure the crowd keeps pedaling. “Level Up” by Ciara is playing and Mel’s crowd is doing sprints. She’s encouraging and singing at the same time. “You can do it. Push to that RPM [revolutions per minute] that you haven’t reached yet in class! Level up, level up!”
She started attending spin classes after graduate school. When she moved to the D.C. area, she began to participate in classes again but realized something was missing. Mel starts, “I didn’t really like the instructors, and certain things that I knew were dangerous moves, they were doing. And so instead of complaining, I said to myself, ‘Why don’t I just go get certified?’”
She had instructors who told her she had the personality for teaching classes, so she took their advice. She taught for multiple different gyms in the area and eventually realized she wanted to open her own.
“I started falling out of love with science and more in love with fitness.”
Mel was always involved in athletics throughout her life; playing sports like softball and basketball. She often ran, doing multiple marathons. She even had a goal of running one in every state. Spin classes were just another way to keep herself in shape and exercising. Her athleticism only faltered when she injured herself running when she first moved to the D.C. area and was unable to exercise for a year while recovering.
Mel’s athleticism shines in her studio as well. Not only do they offer spin classes, but they also provide a slew of other classes like boxing, Zumba, belly dancing, and yoga. She is even a certified instructor in most of the classes she offers, just in case she ever needs to step in for an instructor.
“Meeting my husband, starting dating him, I told him what I wanted to do, and he really pushed me to do what I wanted to do.” They started working toward it non-stop about a year ago, she says, and had their grand opening in November of 2018. The support is what she says helped her the most when opening. She first pitched her business to the mayor, Patrick Wojahn, and got his full support throughout the process.
Support is also why Mel chose to open in North College Park. She had the support, and she wanted to help support the community.
It was not always a perfect journey. Mel says she encountered numerous roadblocks. She had to apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan three times and demo day was not what she had hoped it would be. She says it was just like the home renovation shows where anything that can go wrong does.
“Unfortunately certain cities or counties, I should say, they don’t make it easy for a small business owner to open,” Mel says. She says the process is not clear cut and there are steps you have to go through that they do not tell you about beforehand. Mel says she voiced her concerns to the county.
Mel not only wants to help people get in shape, but she also wants to help the community grow. “I want to help build up my instructors in any way they want… And I want to help the community,” Mel says.
She is seated in the front of her studio space, surrounded by various versions of pink and black. Music is blaring in the background, switching from Bruno Mars to Michael Jackson to Calvin Harris. As people come and go, Mel greets them by name and with a smile. A budding instructor that Mel is mentoring is waiting for Mel. Mel lets her in the spin studio to practice. She’s been training her for a while helping her get her certification to teach spin classes.
She chose to open her shop in North College Park so she can raise house value and bring better businesses to the area. She describes the neighborhood as the “forgotten child of College Park.”
She has held days of service and charity events to benefit different aspects of the community. As far as helping her instructors, she says she’s willing to assist them in any way possible. Mel says she’d help them open their own business, open another Posh or even give them any advice they need. She’s learned valuable lessons from her experience in opening a shop and getting certified, and she wants to help her instructors and the community experience the same.
Being a black woman owner of a spin and fitness studio has met Mel with some adversity. She says she felt like people were not taking her seriously and she had to keep proving herself. People do not expect her to be the owner because of the perception that cycling is a “white person’s activity.”
Mel advises to anybody thinking of owning a business. She says if you get an idea try your hardest to execute and remember the process is not going to be warm and fuzzy. There will be days when you question your decision and will be tested, but do not let those days stop you from a potentially life-changing experience.
“Don’t let fear be something that holds you back,” she says.