Things to do

Pedal the pounds off at South End’s new cycling center

Karen Hill’s path to becoming a gym owner isn’t an ordinary one.

Growing up in Charlotte, Hill played a wide range of sports. But when she competed, she felt as if her energy was being rapidly drained from her body. Over time, she would discover that she had a few heart conditions that went mainly misdiagnosed her whole life.

At age 25, she had a day where she couldn’t hear or see, her heartbeat reached a dangerously high rate and she had to have an immediate procedure.

But Hill dealt with her heart problems head-on. She began to broaden her exercise regimen. By partnering with Camp LUCK, a local, medically supervised resident camp for kids with heart disease, she found her passion for cycling through the charity’s main Bike LUCK fundraiser event.

Cycling continued to transition Karen in her job as well.  With her NCSU entrepreneur business background, she put her new-found dream of owning a cycling studio into first gear, leaving behind her Wells Fargo Securities job in July.

Now, Hill has partnered with her brother Adam, good friend Josh Rohauer and former co-worker Matt Stokes to create First Wind Cycling & Fitness. It’s set to open its doors this weekend in Design Center of the Carolinas in South End.


The purpose

First Wind Cycling & Fitness is meant to be fun and accessible to all levels of experience.

Right off the East-West light rail stop, First Wind Cycling & Fitness offers cycling classes along with barre, personal training and small-group training throughout the day.

The bikes

The group has ordered RealRyder bikes that move and turn instead of staying stationary, therefore giving you a full-body workout. Have back or knee issues? These bikes are also easier on these areas of the body and you can burn 20 percent more calories than regular cycling bikes, according to First Wind (they should hire me for an infomercial).


Sampling of the classes

– “See The Ride,” where you work out on your bike while a virtual course on a projector screen guides you in different environments.

– “Get A Ride To The Barre” lets you cycle for half of your class while you do barre exercises during the other half (I was thinking more half cycle, half Sycamore Brewery down the street…)

Free Day Friday

On Friday, Aug. 14, the fitness center is offering Free Day Friday: You can check out the gym and try out the cycling experience at no cost. Just remember to sign up online for a class before it fills up.

First Wind Cycling will start normal operating hours on Saturday, Aug. 15.

Charity rides

Be on the lookout for charity rides. Hill and her co-workers want to bring in local charities like The Humane Society of Charlotte into First Wind Cycling & Fitness each month to help raise money and awareness for a cause while visitors pedal the pounds off.


Will Johnson is a proud Hickory boy who is now digital content coordinator at Beasley Media Group (formerly CBS Radio). He also covers the sports, hip-hop, & local scene for Power 98 and 610 AM The Fan.