When you walk into BECYCLE, you’re immediately dazzled by its large-scale tiled golden walls, which nest an array of fitness gear for sale. Guests can lounge in this front area before or after their workout as well as enjoy the fruit bar next door. Gundula Cöllen opened BECYCLE a year ago after an inspiring visit to the United States.
“I was seeing how the fitness trend was really booming over there, especially in the boutique fitness space… there were a lot of boutique fitness studies popping up. I noticed that Berlin has quite a lot of offerings already, but nothing in the boutique space and nothing focusing on high intensity cardio training, so I realized it was time that we bring this trend to Germany.”
Before starting her own business, Gundula worked at a bank and was later a consultant, working abroad in places like Australia and England. Therefore, she never had extensive experience in a customer-facing role. This has been a unique challenge, especially as a business owner who’s present from six in the morning until the late hours in the evening: despite the long hours of work, one must maintain a friendly demeanor, reflecting the good mood of the customers who are there to be energetic and healthy.
“It’s an interesting journey to always be in the customer-facing role, but on the other hand, it’s also very rewarding because we have a lot of amazing customers who really appreciate what we’ve built here.”
Gundula continues on this point, emphasizing that, at BECYCLE, they strive to maintain a high level of friendliness. This is especially important for a fitness studio—a place where people come to be motivated. At BECYCLE, customers may cycle to high-energy music or slow it down a bit with some yoga.
Gundula moved to Berlin in 2012, drawn in by its international flair. And, with plans to open a second location for BECYCLE, she’s well-anchored herself in the city. Gundula aims to open the next studio towards the end of the year or early next year, and has her sights set on Charlottenburg and perhaps even Kreuzberg. However, it very much depends on the property she can find. For long-term goals, Gundula would like to open a BECYCLE in every major city in Germany.
It’s clear that Gundula is motivated and this stems from a genuine enjoyment for what she does.
“I really love the interaction with people. I always missed that in my previous jobs because I was doing a lot of analysis just sitting behind the screen and now it’s pretty much the whole day just chatting to people. And then, I love the fact that I can take the time to jump into the workouts every now and again. Also, being able to be active in your job and on your feet and running around and not sitting all the time is quite a luxury.”
As for advice, Gundula says it’s important to choose the right partners to start your business with and to have everything in place contract-wise. Running a business is difficult enough and this lays a strong foundation. She also says it’s important to have a strong support system.
“Have a good setup in your private life, so that if you have to focus 200% on the business, you can get support. I think that’s what’s important… to know that you have a support network around you and people who can help because there will always be times when you’re short on staff.”
With all her hard work and devotion to her business, Gundula discovered hidden depths of capability in herself. This discovery was incredibly positive for her.
“I got surprised by how much I’m capable of doing. I had periods when we were building the space and it was really tough because there were things that were going really wrong and the whole site became so much more expensive. Stress was so high, I thought, ok this will never happen again in my life, I will never be so stressed again, which is true, but when I look back, I was still doing ok and I was still managing to do other things to calm my nerves. It’s interesting that most of us do normal 9-6 jobs and feel tired at the end of the day, but we can do so much more. Like, we can actually work 15 hours a day and we’re ok… It comes out when you love what you do, and then you can do anything.”
BECYCLE actually began using SumUp before they opened. They hosted a crowdfunding event at their space—in the middle of the building site—and there was even a DJ. Guests could use the SumUp card reader to contribute towards the campaign.
“I’m actually really happy with SumUp. Now, we have the new device and it’s great because it never defaults and the battery life lasts a really long time.”