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Charlottesville-based Pūrvelo cycling studio names first franchisee

University of Virginia alumna Maxine Clifford is taking ownership of the Pūrvelo cycling studio flagship location in Charlottesville, a year after the company announced it was franchising the business.

Clifford, who graduated from UVa in 2019, started working at the studio as an intern when she was just 19 years old. Since then, she has opened and managed a new Pūrvelo in Athens, Georgia, and led the Charlottesville location as general manager.

After managing two locations in the past four years, Clifford said she was “ready to take the professional step forward.”

“I’m so grateful to be able to grow Pūrvelo and further invest in Charlottesville, building meaningful relationships in the community I have grown to love and further developing the team I care for deeply,” she said. “Since I was 19, I’ve interned, taught, managed, moved states to open a location and moved back to Charlottesville to run the flagship studio. I still love teaching and riding in Pūrvelo classes just as much as I did at 19, and I am grateful I still get to do that.”

Atlantic Research Group Chief Technology Officer Hunter Walker will join Clifford as co-owner of the studio.

“I’m pleased to step into a co-ownership role at Pūrvelo here in Charlottesville," said Walker, who is also a UVa alum. "The enthusiasm for fitness in this community is impressive, and I appreciate the varied and quality gyms and studios that are available. Above all, I’m looking forward to assisting my co-owner and friend, Maxine, as we contribute to the health and wellbeing of this vibrant community."

Pūrvelo shared its plans to adopt a franchise model after the Charlottesville-based franchising services business Extraordinary Brands acquired the business last year.

Charlottesville resident Kristin Watson founded Pūrvelo, a rhythm based indoor cycling studio that trains its riders in the dark, in 2015 and grew its reach to three additional markets in the Southeast, prior to the sale to Extraordinary Brands.

Charlottesville is the first of four current Pūrvelo locations to announce new ownership, according to a company statement. Focused on college towns, outside of Charlottesville and Athens, the company also has locations in Auburn, Alabama, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“I wouldn’t have this opportunity had it not been for Kristin Watson, who has been an invaluable mentor and role model for me in business and in life,” Clifford said. “As a young, female business owner, I hope to also be a role model for more young women who will find a home and family at the Charlottesville Pūrvelo.”

Clifford, who earned a bachelor’s in communication and media studies, said she tried plenty of cycling studios in the past, but Pūrvelo was the first studio that got her “hooked” on cycling.

Clifford said the change in ownership will not effect Pūrvelo’s day-to-day operations as much as it will appear in the boost in marketing efforts and paid advertising that come with the new franchise agreement. In addition to her love for teaching riders, Clifford said she is eager to continue to cultivate and grow relationships with other businesses.

“As a personal goal, and this would have been my goal whether I’m owning the studio or not, but I’m really passionate about partnering with other small businesses and businesses. I definitely plan to put a lot more energy and efforts as well as budget allocated towards events like that,” she said.

Since becoming the general manager at Pūrvelo in Charlottesville, Clifford has already helped secure partnerships with with national businesses, such as the Bumble dating app, and local ones, such as Waterbird Spirits, Roots Natural Kitchen, Corner Juice and the Common House social club.

Clifford said the early partnership with Waterbird to sponsor co-branded merchandise and free drinks for riders “put Pūrvelo on the map” and, two years later, the event is still a favorite among studio members.

In what Clifford called the studio’s “most successful recurring partnership,” Pūrvelo now collaborates with Roots Natural Kitchen for the “Roots Ride” every month. Each month, riders receive a text with a special promotional code for 20% off of their Roots order, which is prepared while they are in class. While the riders pedal, Clifford leaves the studio to grab the food and brings it back so the riders can have their meal right after class.

The studio also has an ongoing partnership with the Mudhouse Coffee on 10th Street, which allows Pūrvelo members to receive a 15% discount on their orders at any time.

“The way I see it, community events are a win-win-win,” Clifford said. “Within our partnerships, we get to support local businesses while facilitating an opportunity for our riders to make connections.”


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