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Fashion / Beauty

Twentysomething SMU Entrepreneur Turns Her Exercise Obsession Into a Business

How StudioHop Took Off

BY // 01.08.18
photography Tony Krash

Following a weeklong holiday in Mexico, where her husband Ryan’s family owns and operates Hotel Akumal Caribe resort in the Riviera Maya, 28-year-old Natalie Wolfe is back home in Dallas, prepping to host an evening event at Terlingo Cycle spin studio in Oak Lawn.

The occasion? To mingle — and sweat it out — with more than 40 of the many exercise enthusiasts who subscribe to StudioHop, the fast-growing fitness biz Natalie founded three years ago.

As its moniker suggests, StudioHop is a digital workout platform that lets members try boutique fitness studios (spin, yoga, boxing, martial arts, ballet, rock climbing) with several pricing plans through studiohopfitness.com.

It’s a passion project with sporty roots: Growing up in Austin, Natalie had a strong interest in athletics and dabbled in tennis, volleyball, soccer, and lacrosse at her small private high school. While attending Southern Methodist University, she put in nearly as many hours at the campus gym as she did studying for her journalism and Spanish degrees.

As the boutique fitness trend flourished, Natalie experimented with Pilates and PureBarre but found that being locked into a contract with one studio didn’t make financial sense and also created a plateaued routine.

Using her connections in the local fitness scene to take charge of business development, Natalie recruited her husband, who then worked for Dallas private equity firm GlendonTodd Capital, to manage StudioHop’s financials.

In January 2015, athletic types packed the Lululemon boutique on Knox Street as the couple celebrated StudioHop’s debut. Its app launched a year later, further simplifying the class sign-up process.

“I always say to treat your workout like a meeting,” Natalie says. “When you book a class on the app, you can add it straight to your calendar.”

Three years ago, there were 12 studios in the program. Today, there are nearly 200 — and not just in Dallas. Natalie expanded StudioHop into Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and New Orleans, with plans for more.

“We’ve grown very quickly,” she says. “I put in a lot of grassroots efforts, which helped build the community.”

In a sixth-floor office in the Turtle Creek area, the Wolfes employ seven team members. Unlike its main competitor, New York-based ClassPass, StudioHop has a member perks program in every city — in Dallas, there are offers on Hiatus Spa treatments, a complimentary matcha beverage at West Village’s Pok restaurant, special pricing at MiniLuxe nail salon, etc.

For a girl who exercises six times a week, staying fit is always top of mind. “My winning combo is spin, Pilates, yoga, and running outside,” Natalie says, citing Zyn 22 cycling and City Yoga as some of her favorites. “I live on the Katy Trail, so I’m always running there.”

Often trotting alongside her is Annabelle, her 4-year-old Shih Tzu Bichon Frise mix. The pup has her own Instagram hashtag, #AnnabelleWoof, chronicling her adventures athletic and otherwise.

Entrepreneurship has been a part of Natalie Wolfe’s DNA since her senior year of college when she started the social-media marketing company New Digital Strategies, so it’s hardly surprising that her StudioHop venture is thriving, currently sending several thousand visits to its Dallas studios every month.

“Once you find your rhythm and find what keeps it fun, you feel stronger,” she says of creating a personal workout regimen. “When you feel like that, you don’t view exercise as punishment. That’s when it clicks.”

Age: 28. Occupation: StudioHop founder. Tools of the Trade: Athletic wear. Spunky office pup. Patience. Fearlessness.

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