Emily Kinley and Laura Wheeler

By Tina Chadwick

Walk through a gutted, empty space with exposed ceilings, few walls and cement floors – it would be hard to visualize a thriving business. Even harder is the courage to make that vision a reality, but Laura Wheeler and Emily Kinley of Pace23 have done just that in Decatur.

“We love the pace of Decatur – the heartbeat of it – so we incorporated that into the name of our studio,” Kinley says.

Pace23 is a boutique studio featuring indoor cycling and TRX suspension training. Both have become a nation-wide phenomenon as more and more people look for a personal touch to fitness. As Wheeler puts it, “…people want to go where the instructors know their names, and their personal fitness goals.”

Founders Kinley and Wheeler are two well-known fitness pros who started Pace23 to elevate the level of attention missing from some larger gyms.

“In all my years of teaching fitness, it dawned on me I couldn’t do it my way as long as I was bound to a larger conglomerate,” Wheeler says.

Kinley had her inspirational moment when she a visited Soul Cycle in New York. “ As soon as you step in the door, it is an experience – lights, music, video.” She realized that she was already offering people something above par and wanted to take her rich fitness instructor history and pair it with this theatre style approach.

“As our classes got bigger and bigger, I had to start turning people away — even at my 6 a.m. class, and I have 49 bikes in there,” Kinley says.

At that point, Kinley knew there was a need in the fitness community not being met. Kinley and Wheeler actually met through this need.

“Our clients brought us together. They bounced between two locations to take both our classes,” Wheeler says. “Over time I’ve learned some fitness teachers have this intangible trait that raises the bar – changes the experience. It’s not something you can teach. It is inherent.”

So, why not just add classes and keep on teaching?

Kinley says she wants to reach those who might be intimidated by the intensity and crowds, or that are new to this type of fitness. “In this setting we have the ability to make each individual feel comfortable and dynamically coach all fitness levels. We really can reach everyone, from the brand new to those who are endurance athletes.”

Asking both what made them take the leap to start Pace23, Wheeler says, “I believe in my self but it took 37 years to figure it out.” Kinley conitnues, “I have so much more to give so I didn’t want to look back later in life and regret that I didn’t do all I know I can.”

Pace23 is at 138 New Street. For more information, visit pace23.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.