Cycling into the new normal
Photos courtesy of Blake Armentano October 09, 2020
UD entrepreneurship student rides through pandemic challenge to launch business
Starting a business while still a college student isn’t an easy feat under any circumstances. But just two weeks after University of Delaware senior entrepreneurship major Blake Armentano opened his new business, the Oh-So Cycle spin studio, in March, the state of Delaware shut down many businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Armentano didn’t let this stop him from continuing to share his passion for fitness with the community.
“After speaking with many people, I came across a huge problem in the market: There is an incredibly high financial barrier to entry into the home fitness market for consumers, especially for cycling,” Armentano said. “I very quickly pivoted and started to offer virtual memberships to Oh-So Cycle.”
These virtual memberships include not only unlimited access to virtual rides, all filmed in the Oh-So Cycle studio, but also an at-home spin bike rental. Oh-So Cycle delivers these top-of-the-line bikes to each customer's home at the start of their membership and picks them up at the end of their membership.
“Allowing consumers to rent the bikes rather than purchase the bikes eliminates that high financial barrier to entry, which is incredibly important to Oh-So Cycle, as we believe fitness is deserved by all,” Armentano said.
The studio reopened recently for in-person classes with, Armentano said, riders’ safety as its top priority. Armentano limited the number of bikes in the studio and implemented see-through partitions between each bike, which are all at least six feet apart.
“Our riders are back and better than ever, feeling very comfortable with the steps we have taken to promote safety and social distancing in our studio,” Armentano said. “Oh-So Cycle truly is a family of riders, and we all work together to keep our environment happy and healthy.”
Armentano, whose hometown is Dix Hills on Long Island, New York, said that he’s always been passionate about both fitness and entrepreneurship, starting his first business at age 13. When he bega the entrepreneurship major at UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, he said, he had one goal: to launch a business by the time he graduated.
Then, after embarking on a 550-mile bike ride from Staten Island to Niagara Falls to raise money for cancer research, Armentano “fell in love with cycling,” and began taking cycling classes in his hometown.
“I noticed there were no private indoor cycling studios around Newark, Delaware,” Armentano said. This realization then led to the idea for Oh-So Cycle, he said, and he set a goal to “not only provide indoor cycling classes to local Newark residents and to UD students, but to empower people to challenge themselves and better themselves both physically and mentally.”
Armentano said that his connections to UD and the Horn Entrepreneurship program were a big help throughout the process of adjusting Oh-So Cycle’s goals as a result of the coronavirus shutdown.
“I am so thankful for all of the connections I have made to professors, mentors and other students,” he said, adding that the program “truly goes above and beyond to help their students succeed.”