By Jenny Taylor
E’Lyn Taylor is the recipient of a micro grant from Publish Her Story, a program dedicated to providing resources to female-identifying founders. Since 2018, more than $250,000 in grants and services have been donated to women business owners.
E’Lyn Taylor left the boutique cycling studio where she was auditioning for a permanent position feeling dejected. She’d been working as a cycling instructor there five days a week for several months. It was a huge commitment in addition to her full-time job in investment banking. And despite her contributions and dedication, E’Lyn had just been told she didn’t get the job. She didn’t understand it; she was highly qualified and had developed great relationships with class attendees. Throughout her time there, she’d watched other instructors audition and get hired on the spot. When E’Lyn questioned studio management on their decision, they didn’t provide reasons or feedback. They just didn’t want her.
As a Black woman in a predominately white, upscale fitness space, E’Lyn knew she stood out. She suspected discrimination had been a major obstacle in securing that cycling job. She was frustrated by statements that fitness studios hung on their walls and posted on social media proclaiming their commitment to diversity and inclusion. The reality was that none of the instructors looked like her. And the high membership costs weren’t attainable for many people of color. E’Lyn realized she had a choice: She could keep applying to jobs with studios that wouldn’t accept her for who she was, or she could create a fitness studio that would empower and uplift the Black community. It was an easy decision.
Starting her own studio wasn’t an easy task, though, due to lack of funds and resources. E’Lyn began working part time at a small Black-owned gym to gain experience working with the demographic she wanted to serve. She started slowly building out a business plan. She thought about her late grandfather and his strong work ethic and impactful leadership in her Fort Worth, Texas, community, and he became her biggest inspiration. She wanted to create a business that would bring the type of positive change he always worked toward. She continued to dream of ways to share her passion for fitness through affordable and accessible classes.
When the pandemic began in the spring of 2020, E’Lyn found herself sheltered in place and bored, so she looked into becoming a certified yoga instructor. She joined a program that offered scholarships for members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities. Once certified, she began hosting virtual yoga classes for her friends to help them feel connected while isolated at home. They began sending her donations in exchange for classes. Her Aunt Alfie, who was courageously battling breast cancer, encouraged her to turn this side hustle into a full-fledged business. Hearing her aunt’s words of support fueled E’Lyn to seize the moment and pursue her purpose.
While E’Lyn was extremely motivated to get her business plan up and running, equipment costs were an obstacle. She couldn’t afford the bikes she needed to start a cycling studio. That changed in September 2021, when E’Lyn discovered a warehouse selling gym equipment not far from her house. She stopped in and was excited to find that it sold bikes she could afford. E’Lyn couldn’t believe her good luck—it felt like a sign that her business was meant to be. She quickly purchased several bikes and wasted no time in launching the fitness studio she had been dreaming of: Studio E Fitt.
Making fitness classes accessible to her community has always been a key part of E’Lyn’s plan, and Studio E Fitt is entirely mobile. Her unique business model enables E’Lyn to reach anyone who wants to participate throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area, no matter their location or transportation options. She brings bikes and yoga mats to teach cycling and yoga classes at local events and client homes or workspaces. She loves being able to teach classes outdoors to give people a different landscape than the traditional cycling experience in a darkened studio.
E’Lyn encourages everyone who joins her classes to show up as their authentic selves and work hard. She is welcoming to everyone regardless of race, size, fitness level or sexual orientation. Her client base has grown steadily, and community response to Studio E Fitt has been so positive that E’Lyn has begun collaborating with other fitness instructors and organizations to create local events to enable broader audiences to experience her classes. She’s also continuing to work with community leaders to find ways of making her classes accessible to the hardest-to-reach demographics. Her late grandfather used to say, “Love is no good unless you give it away.” Through her hard work and perseverance, E’Lyn is ensuring everyone has a place in the fitness space she has created.
To learn more about E’Lyn’s business, visit StudioEFitt.com and follow @studioefitt on Instagram.
Photo credit: Studio E-Fitt
About the Author
Jenny Taylor is a marketing strategist and freelance writer who enjoys bringing inspirational stories to life through the written word. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and three kids.
About Publish Her
Publish Her is a female-founded and focused publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all. Publish Her specializes in print-on-demand books, workbooks, journals, magazines and more.