Jan 27, 2015 06:20PM
● Published by Dia
By Gina Tagliarino
For some, fitness is a way of life. For Southlake residents Melissa and Mark Page, it was the beginning of their destiny.
“I actually met my husband at the gym on a treadmill,” Melissa reveals. “Now that we're married, fitness has always been incorporated at our house and we keep each other motivated, so it makes it fun for us.”
Melissa’s dedicated spirit emerged well before her chance encounter with her future husband. The Carroll High School Emerald Belles drill team director has been dancing since the tender age of 3, when her mom first enrolled her in a class. She hasn’t stopped since. “By the time I entered college, I knew I wanted to be a teacher and to keep dancing,” Melissa says. “Being a drill team director seemed to be the perfect fit.”
So she began her journey as a dance coach, first at Brenham High School and later at Blinn College in Brenham before taking reign of the award-winning Emerald Belles in 1997.
Since then, the drill team has won multiple state titles, and even recently took home first place overall in a national competition—all under the guidance of Melissa. But this story has a new chapter to be written, as Melissa and her husband set out on a business endeavor that’s a little dance, a little cycling and a whole lot of fun. It’s called ZYN22, and it’ll leave you breathless in more ways than one. “It’s an experience, not just an exercise class,” Melissa explains.
Though she and Mark have always been self-proclaimed fitness fanatics, it wasn’t until early 2014 that they even considered turning their passion for sport into a profitable business that will soon include four locations, including Southlake.
“A friend of mine told me about this concept that was popular in L.A. and New York, and it just got to me in a way that wouldn’t let me go,” Mark says. “After three or four weeks of being up at night thinking about it and researching it, I knew I had to go experience it.”
One trip to Los Angeles to try it out for himself, and he instantly was hooked. But Melissa wasn’t so easily convinced. The lifelong dancer shied away from gym-style group classes because she simply didn’t find them interesting or fun. In fact, it would take three to four more months before she approached her husband one evening with the green light. “I never even knew you could do all this stuff on a bike,” Melissa says. “I was very hesitant to begin with because I couldn’t stand cycling.”
Once she considered all she could bring to the table through her experience as a dance instructor and her network of talented former drill team stars, Melissa was all in. “I knew early on I could help with my background and deep contacts in the dance world,” Melissa recalls. “I definitely have learned not to say or think something cannot be done.”
Soon, she and Mark began crafting a business plan alongside Mark’s childhood friend Johnny Pannell and his wife, Karen who also reside in Southlake. “Within 24 hours we had made a deal for Johnny to become the CEO of the company,” Mark says, “and he’s been in charge ever since and done a phenomenal job.”
By May 2014 Melissa and Mark were ready to turn their dream into a reality. Understanding the success of boutique fitness concepts like Crossfit and Barre, they begin doing their homework to pull together the best aspects of them all. The result was ZYN22, an entirely new model unlike any other fitness class in this part of the country. And the best part was Melissa could reconnect with some of her former Emerald Belles, utilizing their skills to create a troupe of instructors that mirrored the company vision. “It’s interesting because some of the best instructors in this method have dance backgrounds, which naturally led me to my Emerald Belle alumni,” Melissa says.
Among those training to instruct the program are former Belles Karis Warren, Lacey Munoz, West Hardin, Jessica Kane and Berkley McFarlin, all preparing for ZYN22’s Fort Worth location. Others are joining as instructors at additional locations or as staff members at its on-site boutique stores, which will feature the latest workout attire to browse before and after sessions.
“It’s been great, because as I’ve gone through the instructor training, it’s been fun to work so closely with them in a different capacity,” Melissa notes. “This time last year, Lacey Munoz was my captain as a senior in high school. Now, we are training together.”
In addition to her former Belles, Melissa has also been able to explore a new type of relationship with her husband as a business partner. “It's been interesting, to say the least,” Melissa says. “We're both used to being in charge, so both of us are relearning to take direction.”
And as opposites attract in romantic relationships, Melissa has discovered this dynamic clash of personalities also creates successful business partnerships. “Mark thinks differently than I do,” Melissa explains. “I see all the details that need to happen for something to get done. Mark is the total opposite—the big picture person with his eye focused way down the path that no one else sees.”
With a smile she admitted the duo balances each other out quite well. “We are a good complement to each other though—he needs me!”
But while her background as a drill team coach has prepared her in some ways for starting a new business, Melissa has quickly realized entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily a clearcut process. “I am a very organized person, and it bothers me to let things build up or linger,” Melissa says. “Being an entrepreneur is way different, and I have had to learn that things may feel unorganized, cluttered and even chaotic at times. But with hard work and determination everything comes together, and it is a very rewarding experience. It's just the nature of new ventures, and feeling ‘messy’ is okay.”
As things start to come together for ZYN22, the so called messiness is part of the magic. Blending cycling, dancing, motivation and meditation, the fitness concept could be having an identity crisis, but instead the mix creates a one-of-a-kind adrenaline rush that can be enjoyed by any fitness level or age.
“You can sit down when you need to sit down,” Melissa says. “You can turn it down when you need to turn it down. It’s all about the experience of it and the music. We all can relate to music, whether you can dance or not. Music touches us all.”
It’s this sense of community, attention to mental health and encouraging atmosphere that served as the framework for the eventual brand name, messaging and colors, which Fort Worth-based ad agency Balcom Agency helped develop.
“There’s a ‘Y’ in the middle of ‘ZYN’ for a reason,” Mark notes. “It’s about finding your ‘why,’ the reason why you’re here and why you want to be better. We set out to give the word ‘Zen’ a new meaning and to make it something actionable.” The number 22 was later added based on the company’s motto—“They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Discover what happens on day 22.” Bright green, white and cobalt blue were selected as the company’s brand colors, a nod to the energetic tone it aims to evoke.
So what can you expect during your first ZYN22 class? Expect to be wowed. Every detail has been considered, including how guests will interact with one another before and after their scheduled class time. “It’s going to be like a Disneyland ride,” Mark says. “Every bike has a speaker coming toward it, so everyone has the same experience.”
What Melissa and Mark want to set ZYN22 apart from the rest is the “feel good” notion you’ll leave with. As an instructor, Melissa has the unique opportunity to be an inspiration for her class by encouraging them throughout their session and beyond. “Once you step inside that dome, it’s time to drop everything and have your own time to work out,” Melissa says. “No matter if you have a dance background or not, you can have a sense of community with others when the music comes on.
“It may sound corny that we're changing lives, but it's not to me. As an owner and an instructor delivering the message from the podium, I'm excited about the hope, peace and motivation people will experience by riding with us.”
As Melissa reflects on the path that has led them to building ZYN22, she can’t help but see the parallels between her life as a drill team director and her new adventure as a small business owner. “It has been harder and more challenging than I thought, but in the end that’s where the good stuff is,” she says. “Just like I’ve experienced with the Belles—it’s that big vision, hard work and some personal risk combined that brings great rewards.”