Driven by Passion: Cycling Bears

by Portfolio Magazine
Images courtesy of Cycling Bears
13 Oct 2022

Debra Tay and Tudi Guillamot are the co-founders of Cycling Bears, a company that curates and customizes some of the world’s finest fitness equipment for homes, yachts, hotels, and private clubs. The brands they exclusively distribute in Singapore include Ciclotte, Enigma, Pent, and more.

Tell us about yourself and what you’re passionate about, which led you to what you’re doing now.

I came to Singapore in 2011 from Brittany, France for an internship and moved here permanently in 2012. Coming from an engineering background, I love to keep up with the latest technology and developments in various industries. I find myself fixing things all the time and this goes beyond just fixing bikes because I like knowing more about equipment I use. I have a deep passion for fitness, travel, and a variety of sports. Out of all these, cycling takes center stage for me. The common passion for fitness spurred us to launch Cycling Bears.

Debra: Two things that I am passionate about are wellness and design. In my day job as a banker, I often meet people who live in beautiful homes, but noticed that their home gyms are always hidden away or look out of place. That’s when the interior designer in me identified the market gap and felt the need to design aesthetically pleasing fitness spaces to fill with equally desirable equipment.

Cycling Bears showroom

Turning something you’re passionate about into a viable business isn’t always easy. Walk us through your journey and the challenges you’ve met along the way.
When you are passionate about something, no challenge is too big to overcome. It takes a while to help consumers realize that buying longer lasting items is better because it makes more financial sense in the long term and that it is more sustainable in today’s age of fast fashion. Whenever someone visits our showroom and sees the products in person, they can really admire the craftsmanship and compare the quality versus a cheaper product.

We are ‘new kids’ in the fitness industry and we are also disrupting the industry because we aren’t trying to sell as many machines as possible to fill up the square footage of a client’s space. We are trying to understand what their fitness goals are and what equipment they really need before helping to customize their space and also the equipment to match their homes or hotels. It can be quite challenging when people come to us expecting us to sell off the shelf. We are not selling catalogue items, but we are a company looking to customize an experience for our clients.

Nohrd curved manual treadmill

What are your long-term goals and what steps are you taking to realize them to ensure longevity and sustainability?
Our medium-term goal is to be the go-to fitness equipment brand for consumers with discerning tastes and give them the option of having a beautiful and functional home gym. We also aim to reduce the need to change equipment constantly due to obsoletion to achieve our bigger goal of leaving as little carbon footprint as we can.

In the long term, we would love to build a community of like-minded individuals to help our clients focus on their overall wellness beyond fitness – diet, stress management, as well as overall health and wellbeing. We also want to partner with a health-tech firms to use wearables to improve overall wellness and fitness.

How would you encourage those who want to act on their passions and turn it into something more, but have no idea how to get started?
The most important thing to keep in mind before acting on your passions is that your idea should add value to the lives of your audience. If it is not a commercial idea, it should add some value to your own life. One way to start is to just go for it and not overthink.

Pent fitness accessories

Define what passion is for you.

Debra: My eyes sparkle when I talk about a topic that I am passionate about - it is really difficult to hide my excitement. Passion is one of the key ingredients in life. I feel that passion is something that you truly desire and something that keeps you going even when life gets difficult or monotonous. Being a banker by profession, the work can sometimes get very demanding and tiring. Therefore, I realised early in life that I needed to find other things I love to do at the same time. This is the reason why outside of work, when I am not out for a picnic with Tudi and our dogs or engaging in a lovely meal and conversation with family and friends, you can find me engaged in sports activities such as boxing, running, golf, scuba diving or skiing.

Tudi: Life is a project made of many smaller passion projects. Fitness is a personal project - a never-ending quest for self-improvement. I am passionate about cycling because it is a unique form of fitness. For leisure, I can ride in a group or alone. I can ride by myself, enjoy the landscape, listen to my body and enjoy my me-time. Or I can ride and catch up with friends, exchange stories and share a laugh over coffee. As a competitive activity, it is an individual sport practised in a team. One needs to perform to help the overall team effort, playing to their strengths to support the team leader. I have not come across a greater sense of purpose than to ride for a friend and see him succeed and take the podium. Cycling is the best school for humility and acceptance.