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Enjoying the Ride

By Jessica Fracalossi »

The information provided herein is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as medical advice or to replace professional medical care. You should always seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new medication or dietary supplement, as well as when starting new exercise regimens. The opinions stated herein are those solely of the writer who has been compensated by the up4® Probiotics Brand, and do not portray the opinions of the brand, i-Health, Inc., or DSM.

During a 45-minute class at The Handle Bar, you’re taken on a journey where dim lights, bass thumping music and sweaty skin are guaranteed. I use these classes as my release—both physical and mental—from the ups and downs that come along with entrepreneurship and small business management. I opened The Handle Bar in South Boston in 2013, to bring Boston a workout that I craved, but couldn’t find anywhere else. Much has changed in five years, including the launch of two more locations and the development of a productive and potent organization, but one thing remains true: a need to work my body to relax and focus my mind.

I grew up a competitive swimmer, maintaining a rigorous workout schedule from a young age. By my senior year in high school, my passion for the sport had reached its peak and I was ready to taper off of my commitment and use college as a time to explore other passions. In 2006, I began my college career at Northeastern University (NU) in Boston. Among some stellar academic and professional resources, NU also had a shiny top-notch gym. I lacked the structure I was used to with regular swim practices and quickly fell into a stale relationship with the elliptical machine. It wasn’t until I found NU’s group fitness classes that my passion for sweat and camaraderie took a new shape. I knew that fitness meant more to me than a piece of equipment and a set of headphones. I needed the intensity, diversity and sense of community that only instructor-led group fitness classes could offer me.

Fast forward to 2011, a biology degree under my belt, and a graduate school acceptance deferred, I found myself unready to commit to a career path. In the interim, I accepted a ‘fun’ job, one that I thought would certainly be temporary, as a community outreach coordinate at a startup fitness apparel brand. I was the fourth hire in the small company and I was sold on the concept of getting paid to workout. It was my job to take classes, meet instructors and gym owners, and familiarize them with our clothing line. This job did prove temporary, but not for the reasons I had initially expected. I was hooked on the fitness industry, I had a taste for what was taking shape in Boston and I had a knack for entrepreneurship, but I also had an idea. By the end of 2011, I had quit this dream job and was back to my college job of waiting tables, but not without intention. I used my days and my mental energy to do research, learned how to write a business plan, pitch an idea and raise capital. I made cash at night to pay the bills. It took 18 months, but by the fall of 2012 I had secured a group of investors and enough capital to carry out my idea. In June 2013, I opened The Handle Bar, started running full speed, and haven’t looked back.

The path from idea to launch was just a taste of what was to come. My days for the past five years have been busy, often stressful, and always posing brand new challenges to either lay down for or rise up against. I soon learned that in business, you can’t lie down to a challenge or your business will fail. So, I’ve learned through necessity to view obstacles as opportunities. This mentality works wonders in business and leadership, but the art of ‘pressing pause’ can be hard to master. I use fitness to release pent upenergy and focus my mind on the present for 45 sweaty minutes. Most recently, I’ve worked with my team to launch a non-profit arm of the business called Handle With Care, which aims to battle the stigma associated with mental illness and places priority on mental wellness and self-care. The movement has been embraced by our rider community as so many individuals, like me, use these classes as a way to find balance—both physically and mentally.

At 30 years old, with my first baby on the way, I believe that wellness is not a destination, but an ongoing, life-long challenge that requires constant attention and tweaking. Focusing on wellness is not selfish—it’s a requirement for success. My life is not getting any easier or less complicated and because I prioritize my personal wellness I have the strength to live (and live happily) amidst this always advancing juggling act of life.

Courtesy Photo by Melissa Ostrow