New spin studio coming to downtown Glen Ellyn

You're trying to suck in your abs, wondering if you're really "planking" (whatever that means) and doing your darnedest to suppress an eyeroll.

All while Janelle Sullivan is standing over you, dancing like a cowboy with a lasso.


"You never know what you're gonna get," says Carin Fanter, recalling a recent routine taught by Sullivan, the owner and fellow instructor at RISE A Fitness Studio in downtown Glen Ellyn.

Fanter corrects herself.

"You know you're going to get a lot of energy," she says.

Sullivan seems to have an endless supply. Too big, in fact, for the basement in her Glen Ellyn home where she decided to teach workouts about two years ago.

After 12 years working a corporate job, the mom and fitness buff decided to finally pursue her "dream" of teaching exercise classes that offer variety, that foster camaraderie, not competition, for students of all levels and that remind even beginners to not take themselves too seriously (hence, a dancing Sullivan).

From her basement, Sullivan took her popular classes to her daughter's dance teacher's studio, where she taught an early morning version of what would become her specialty: a mix of cardio, Yoga, Pilates and barre. From there, she opened her own space in May 2014 and now is preparing to expand to a spin studio a couple doors down at 505 Pennsylvania Ave.

"She just goes. She doesn't waste any time. She gets it done," Fanter said. "She puts her heart and all her energy into it, and she makes stuff happen. She's magic."

Sullivan's clients agree, in thank-you cards and a text message from one woman announcing that her weight "finally has a 1 in front of it" and a dramatic drop in her cholesterol.

"You saved me from a very dark path," the note reads.

That response leaves Sullivan in tears and still surprised that she's managed to create a community from that humble start in her basement (she didn't charge her clients at the time, but merely accepted donations). It's a place that celebrates a "Riser" each month, someone who not only has proper form, but the right attitude.

"Just to be able to see people change, to be able to change people's lives, has been incredible," said the 38-year-old St. Louis native, who owns the studio with her husband, Aaron.

Sullivan plans to open the spin studio this fall in what is now a vacant, roughly 700-square-foot space undergoing renovations and to hire six to eight more instructors.

It will have "a city feel, like this edgy, urban, city feel," she said.

While some of her clients are leery of spin routines, Sullivan said she's devised a special formula and promises more opportunities for personal training, more intense cardio and wellness tips from the second studio.

She'll also extend her fitness philosophy there.

"I just want everybody to feel good about themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin," she said.

Even if they dance like a cowboy.

  Janelle Sullivan, owner of RISE, a fitness studio in Glen Ellyn, is expanding to a spin studio, which will open a few doors down from RISE this fall with more intense cardio workouts and personal training. Bev Horne/
  Danielle Smarto of Batavia works out in a recent class called RISE Fusion. Bev Horne/
  "I think one of the things that Janelle does so beautifully - and no one does it quite like her ... Lots of people have their own style - but she makes it fun," Carin Fanter says of Janelle Sullivan, owner of RISE A Fitness Studio in Glen Ellyn. Bev Horne/
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