New Orleans and fitness. Not usually two things that go together. So, I’m sure you can only imagine the looks I got when I told people I was opening a City Surf here in NOLA. Besides yoga & barre studios, New Orleans was seriously lacking any kind of unique fitness options. When I heard about City Surf from a friend teaching at their first studio in Dallas, I was intrigued. I grew up in South Florida and went to college in Jacksonville Beach, with surf culture and fitness always being a huge part of my everyday before moving to NOLA, so City Surf was right up my alley.
On a trip to Dallas in 2015, I brought a friend with me to a class with co-founder, Lauren, who does not go easy on anybody. I may or may not have had a take a few (ok, more than a few) breaks during class, but I knew immediately that this is something I wanted to be a part of and bring to New Orleans. We needed a studio as unique as the city itself, and this was it.
After many phone calls, number crunching, and trips back and forth from NOLA to Dallas, my boyfriend-turned-business partner (and initial motivator to actually move forward with this crazy idea), Michael, and I signed the papers and City Surf NOLA was born, well...sort of. We still had a ton of work to do. The first location we looked at (I found it listed on Craigslist without photos or address, no joke) was the one. Renovations were a little bit more involved than expected, but considering our building is over 100 years old I guess we can’t be too shocked. I had hired a badass team of trainers with a range of backgrounds who I knew would each bring something different to the table. We held training in a half renovated building, with no A/C, during a very warm October. I’m pretty surprised no one quit day one. Actually, very surprised everyone didn’t just walk out on me and say duces.
We opened in November of 2015 to sold out demo classes. Seeing all of our hard work come together, and just watching the flow of the studio, really made those 15 hour build out days totally worth it. It was really important for me to create a no-pressure place for anyone to come and workout. I wasn’t interested in a stuck up, exclusive kind of atmosphere. I wanted a welcoming, laid back place for everyone to enjoy that offered top notch fitness classes. I wanted to know every person coming in that door by name and make them feel like they had a place at City Surf, because they do.
I’m a true believer in the energy that you put out there is what comes back to you, and that is evident in our community at City Surf NOLA. Everyone who comes is friendly and open minded (I mean they are doing workouts on a moving surfboard, so they’ve got to be somewhat adventurous, right?). Our members have become friends with one another, they welcome new clients and reassure them that it gets easier with every class, and they are truly the best and most rewarding part of owning a studio.
I’m proud to say that City Surf NOLA has helped to kickstart a growing fitness movement in New Orleans. Since our launch in late 2015, more studios have opened, both independent ones like us and nationally recognized franchises as well. I’d like to think that we paved the way for a stronger and more balanced way of life in a notoriously unhealthy city.
Quitting my 9-5 job to open City Surf was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I left a career in music event production and marketing to open a quirky fitness studio that many thought would be a trend. It’s a lot of work, I play every role in the business: trainer, customer service, HR, accountant, marketing director, janitor. My parents were worried, my friends were skeptical, I was working 7 days a week for a solid 5 months when we first opened. As much work as it is, I can’t imagine doing anything else. After almost 2 years of a growing community, City Surf New Orleans has proven that it’s indeed NOT a trend and that it’s here to stay.
Peace, Popups + New Orleans.