Black-owned Spinning studio provides comfortable alternative to traditional gyms

Open seven days a week, Posh Cycling and Fitness Studio, located on Rhode Island Avenue in College Park, Maryland, offers a variety of classes such as Zumba, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and belly dancing. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

Open seven days a week, Posh Cycling and Fitness Studio, located on Rhode Island Avenue in College Park, Maryland, offers a variety of classes such as Zumba, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and belly dancing. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

Posh Cycling and Fitness Studio is not only Prince George’s County’s first official Spinning facility, but it’s also owned by a Black woman.

Melissa Blain, a research biologist at the National Institute of Health by day, and a fitness instructor by night, opened Posh in November 2018. The studio’s main focus is its cycling classes, but it also hosts a variety of other classes, such as Zumba, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and belly dancing.

After teaching in big box gyms, like L.A. Fitness, all over Washington, Blain wanted to open her own studio. Seeing no cycling studio close to her and hearing College Park residents talk about driving to Bethesda for cycling classes, Blain believed her studio could enhance the community.

“I wanted to be part of the effort to bring better businesses to north College Park because we’re like the forgotten stepchild of College Park,” Blain said.  

She describes herself as always having been athletic. In 2008, she got involved in Spinning classes in New York, but found that she “wasn’t in love with the instructors, and they were doing things that were unsafe on the bike.”

“Instead of complaining to myself about the instructors I can’t find, why don’t I get certified myself?” Blain said.

Being the change she wanted to see with the support of people like her boss, Blain began teaching at five different gyms a week. It’s all about helping students achieve their fitness goals, whether it’s losing weight or relieving stress, Blain said.

After having toyed with the notion of her own studio, Blain began the process of opening her studio in the spring of 2017. Reflecting on the 18-month process, Blain said there are a lot of different things you have to learn along the way when opening up your own business. In Prince George’s County, she found it difficult to keep track of the requirements she had to fulfill, stating that the information was often scattered all over the place.

When Blain found the space for her studio, there were a lot of renovations that had to be made. She admitted the space failed a few initial inspections, often for things that the contractor would know to look for. However, Blain knew the vision she had for the space and pushed on.

Posh was created with the purpose of providing quality fitness services that don’t break the pocket. A single class pass is $15. But Posh’s best deal is the $149 dollar unlimited all-access pass where customers can take any and all classes on the monthly schedule. While the target demographic for Posh is women aged 25 to 45, the studio is open to anyone who would like to take a class, Blain said.

“Some women don’t feel comfortable in big box gyms,” Blain said. “You can be at a big box gym and have a guy lifting weights and staring at you. I wanted to create a space for people to come and feel safe.” Blain said.

Posh Cycling and Fitness Studio is the only Spinning facility in Prince George’s County. The studio offers classes taught in person, as well as virtual classes where participants can ride with a virtual instructor projected onto the screen. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

Posh Cycling and Fitness Studio is the only Spinning facility in Prince George’s County. The studio offers classes taught in person, as well as virtual classes where participants can ride with a virtual instructor projected onto the screen. (Amina Lampkin/The Black Explosion)

When Blain would tell people she ran marathons and triathlons, the response would be “that’s a white [people] thing.” But to Blain, being healthy is not a white thing. It’s a “feel good about yourself thing.”

This attitude can be seen in Blain’s staff, too. Demettra DaCosta, a Spinning instructor at Posh, also used to work at big box gyms, but decided she wanted to move to a specialized studio. DaCosta calls Posh one  big family.

“You come here for class and leave everything outside,” DaCosta said. “This is your time. We owe it to ourselves.”

During classes, DaCosta makes a point of getting off her bike to motivate her students to go that extra mile.

For Lucia Perez, a College Park resident, Posh is that safe space to try something new. Perez appreciates her classes not being comprised of only “super, super skinny and perfectly poised” people, but having diversity in the instructors and other attendees at Posh.

With Posh located on Rhode Island Avenue in College Park, a 10-minute drive from the University of Maryland campus, Blain tried to advertise to students on campus by passing out fliers with discounts, contacting student organizations and offering class deals. But students said between transportation and the already free classes offered by University Recreation and Wellness, Posh doesn’t fit their needs.

In the future, Blain sees Posh expanding into other locations across Maryland and other states.