Have you ever had a dream that inspired you to take massive, move-across-the-country, action? I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself when I say those types of dreams typically stay in my bed and are quickly brushed off.
But that’s exactly what happened for Ashley Marand Iwanicki, owner of one of New Hampshire’s newest fitness studios, Collective Studios in Londonderry.
“At the time the idea came to me in late 2019 while my husband and I were living in San Diego. We were just unsure if we wanted to stay and had thoughts about moving back home,” says Ashley. “I actually had a dream about the studio, and the day after I woke up and was like that’s it, that’s the thing! We need to move back and open this place and bring the West Coast energy and that mature elevated fitness experience to the place we grew up.”
Ashley’s background is incredibly diverse from fashion PR in NYC, experiential global events, to marketing and consulting for B2C wellness brands. But nothing ever felt impactful enough. After earning multiple certifications in the health and wellness space, it made perfect sense to marry her love for wellness and business expertise.
“Every time I came back home, there was an experience I was lacking,” Ashley said “I know other people, especially in my age group, feel this way. We have awareness of what’s going on in the cities, we still go to the city, we just don’t live there.”
So in February of 2020, Ashley and her husband made the cross country drive back to New Hampshire and immediately started scouting locations.
“This was literally the only place I looked at. We signed our lease two days before COVID shut down everything,” she recounts. “I’m an eternal optimist. We had a 3-month construction timeline so I thought no big deal, COVID will blow over and by the time we’re done building it’ll be great and we’ll be open by summer!”
The bank she had been working with decided to shut off lending.
But Ashley decided to keep going anyway. Her vision was too big. She pitched over 40 different banks and lenders and they all resonated the same message: the business plan looks wonderful, the numbers look great, as a business owner Ashley was experienced and capable BUT they all were not lending to new clients and especially not new clients in the fitness space.
All while this was going on, she leaned into her previous business and marketing expertise to keep everything client-facing running smoothly from collaborations with other local wellness professionals to an in-person event at a local Vineyard.
PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF
A full year after moving home to New Hampshire, Ashley finally found someone that was confident enough to give the funds the studio needed and she was able to complete the SBA loan process. Collective Studios opened for their soft open in June and officially opened on July 10, 2021.
“It’s been a really long road to get here,” she remembers. “I was constantly trying to keep my own spirits high to have the willpower to continue to bring this place to life even though we faced so much rejection. We’re riding peaks right now but the journey to get here was really emotional and difficult.”
The energy is palpable. Collective Studios is a place you want to hang out long after your workout is over from The Shop to the intentionally designed locker and changing rooms. It’s part big city vibes, part small-town connection, and community.
“I believe that your space has such an impact on your emotional state and your mental state,” says Ashley. “When I was designing the space it was an emotion I wanted. I want it to feel clean and expansive. I want it to feel beautiful and luxe – almost an escape for people.”
Every class is an all-levels class.
“We want you to know that you can come to work out here and feel supported and empowered and we will help you get to where you want to go. For us, inclusivity also includes race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, body type. We want this to be a place that every single person can walk into and feel welcome regardless of their inherent characteristic or their fitness level.”
is an athletic approach to vinyasa yoga. Each class is 60 minutes long and held in a 90-95 degree room to promote a detoxifying sweat that stimulates blood circulation and increases flexibility.
is focused on the traditional practice of Yin Yoga. The 60 minute, unheated (75-80°) class is a slow, mindful and meditative practice that targets the deep, connective tissue around our joints and skeletal system, called fascia.
is a beat-based class where yoga meets strength and cardio. Each 60-minute class is held in an 85-90 degree room and utilizes hand weights, strength building, and high-intensity bursts of cardio to deliver maximum, total body results.
is a 45 minute class, with a 5-minute machine orientation at the beginning. Slow, controlled movements build strength, endurance, and length in this high-intensity, yet low-impact workout set atop the Lagree Fitness patented Megaformer™ machine. The Megaformer™ uses a system of springs, pulleys, and your own bodyweight to activate slow-twitch muscle fibers for a workout that will have your muscles quivering from head to toe. The Collective Studios is NH’s first and only Megaformer studio.
Ready to try a class? Visit the website and use the code ‘STAYWORKPLAYNH’ to get your first ‘Drop-In, All Access’ class for free. The credit is valid for booking any class and never expires (for first-time customers only). To keep up with Ashley and Collective Studios follow them on Instagram.