Be the change: Elise Memmo

Read on to find out about Elise’s big career change to full-time cycling instructor.

Elise Memmo has been part of the #HBFam since our Southie Studio first opened, over 3.5 years ago. She has worked hard to grow her classes and challenge her riders, resulting in a very strong following at our South Boston Studio.

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-8-45-44-amRecently married (many may recognize her at perviously Elise Petersen) and looking for further change, Elise is moving to becoming a full time instructor at The Handle Bar. Elise can be seen at all three of our studios in the coming weeks.

Here is a look into what made Elise make the change to full time instructor, how she was able to do so, and advice for those looking for a career change.

Tell us about your education background and professional experience.

Since high school I have always had a strong interest in understanding the intersection of mental, physical and emotional health in humans.  I attended The University of Michigan for undergrad (GO BLUE!), and got a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. Between my junior and senior year of college, and the summer after my senior year of college, I worked at a fitness/weight-loss camp for children in Amherst, MA (which is where I met my husband, Chris, who was a fellow counselor).  To this day that was the best, most exhausting, most rewarding job I’ve ever had.  That experience led me to apply to a dual Masters in Social Work/Masters in Public Health program at Boston University.  I wanted to have the MSW to gain a clinical counseling background and licensure, and I wanted the MPH to learn how to assess, design, implement, and evaluate large, population-based health programs and initiatives.  During my masters programs I interned at a GED program for urban youth, a residential facility for adolescent girls struggling with emotional and behavioral dysregulation, and a fitness and weight-loss program for children run through Boston Medical Center’s Pediatrics Department.  After graduating with my MSW & MPH I worked as a pediatric and adolescent clinical social worker for a few years at a community health center in Dorchester, then moved into a Project Manager role in Boston Medical Center’s Pediatrics Department for a few years, and the position I just left was in Boston Medical Center’s Department of Quality & Patient Safety as a Quality Improvement Project Specialist.
In terms of my indoor cycling career, I began teaching spinning classes during my senior year at U of M in our intramural sports building.  The classes were held right in the middle of the gym while people were working out on machines all around us, and I had to use an old school boombox that would intermittently lose power throughout class.  When I moved to Boston for grad school I taught at a number of gyms around the city until I found my home at The Handle Bar.

What were the biggest factors that played into your decision to make this move?

Teaching full-time is an idea I’ve been toying with for a few years, but the timing wasn’t right.  I got married this past October, and my husband and I took two weeks off of work (and off of teaching for me) after our wedding.  Having this time off allowed me to have some clarity about what is most important to me, and how I want to spend my time.  Throughout my various jobs post-grad school, one thing has remained constant–my love and passion for teaching indoor cycling.  I’ve been teaching at The Handle Bar since we opened our doors over 3.5 years ago, yet I had cycled through 3 different full-time jobs during that time–and that is very telling.  Each of my full-time jobs had pros and cons, but I didn’t have a professional experience that checked all the boxes that were important to me:  work that I love that also challenges me, a team that supports and inspires me, a schedule that has flexibility and works with the lifestyle that I want, and a leader that I deeply respect.  The Handle Bar meets all of these criteria.  And with the option to hop onto my husband’s health insurance after we got married the right decision for me became clear.

What are you most excited about as you embark on this new chapter?

Evolution is constant as an instructor, both personal and professional.  There are no limits in finding new ways to inspire, motivate, and connect with our Handle Bar community through our music, our words, and our rides.  I consider myself to be a lifelong learner, and the opportunity for constant, never-ending growth doing something that I love so deeply within a business that continues to grow and evolve is such a gift.

Do you have any fears or hesitation? 

A lot of people have been asking me this question lately.  And I have to say, I have never felt more sure or confident about a next step professionally as I do about this one.  That said, of course I have some hesitations!  Along with maintaining my current schedule in Southie, I’ll be spreading my wings and teaching at Fenway and HSQ.  Let’s just say that I really hope y’all (Fenway & HSQ) will give my classes a try and will want to return!

What advice would you give to someone who is debating a career change or shift?

Can I circle back around to this question once I’ve actually done this successfully? 🙂
Seriously though, my life circumstances played a significant role in my decision to make a shift.  If it weren’t for the relentless support of my husband to pursue what I love, this would not have been possible for me.
Practicality aside, it sounds cliche but life is too short.  I had 2 jobs, my full-time gig and The Handle Bar.  The Handle Bar has my heart, and my heart won out.

Where can we find you on the schedule over the next few weeks?

I am all over the place for the next few weeks!  I’m subbing lots of classes as well as ramping up on the number of classes I will own.  Keep your eyes peeled for me at all three studios!  
My official new schedule will begin on Monday, 2/13, and that will be as follows:
Mondays:  4:30pm & 5:45pm in SOUTHIE
Tuesdays:  12:15pm in HSQ, 4:15pm in FENWAY
Wednesdays:  6am & 7:05am in SOUTHIE, 12:15pm in HSQ
Thursdays:  4:15pm in FENWAY
Fridays:  6am & 8:10am in SOUTHIE
Saturdays:  8:30am (60 min) in SOUTHIE
You heard it here first folks! Catch Elise at all three of our studios and be the change you want to be.


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