At 4 foot 11 inches tall, Stephanie Auerbach is solid muscle. She’s a Spinning Diva who loves her job.
Stephanie and her family moved to Portland from Los Angeles more than seven years ago. First they were urbanites in the Pearl and then moved to Hillsdale. Stephanie admits to walking by the indoor cycling classes at a fitness center for months and telling herself she couldn’t do it. She was thinking those people are in really good shape and are all so fit. Then one day she just went in and did it. She was hooked immediately and became a certified instructor.
Fast forward: Living in Hillsdale and finding the perfect space in Raleigh Hills, Stephanie opened the Vortex Cycle Studio. Vortex is a welcoming, unintimidating environment that provides fun-filled spin classes with great music and great instructors for all fitness levels.
The following interview with Stephanie has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in San Francisco; after graduating from Chico State my sister convinced me that LA would be the place to find a Jewish husband. A year later, after moving, I did meet my future husband, Lee Auerbach, who was from New York.
It’s the East Coast and West Coast Jews coming together. His family had never met anyone quite like me!
Did Judaism play a part in your upbringing?
My mom and dad are Jewish. My dad is from Bulgaria and my mom is from Canada. I take pride in being a first-generation American with Russian, German and Spanish roots. My folks were divorced, and I was a latchkey kid as my mom worked full time. When I spent time with my dad, I learned a lot about Jewish traditions from my grandmother, who was from the old county. I have always considered myself culturally Jewish.
Does Judaism play a role in your life now?
Judaism plays a much bigger part now as we are raising a son who attends Portland Jewish Academy.
LA had a much larger Jewish population. When we were looking to purchase our home in Portland, the Southwest area around Hillsdale and Multnomah Village seemed the best fit. Seeing Hassidic Jews walking to services on Shabbat reminds me of living in LA. Finding PJA has been wonderful. We want our son to know what it means to be Jewish, and we feel like the school can provide studies that we can discuss as a family. It has been a great fit.
What brought you to Portland?
After 20 years in LA for Lee and a decade for me, we decided to start a new life and raise our son in Portland. We were in Portland less than a couple of months when word got out that Lee was available; he was destined to be back on the set as Rigging Best Boy on the successful seven-season run of “Grimm.”
Hopefully another show will film here. Meanwhile, I am happily putting him to work at the studio. Lee loves working the desk.
We both knew that LA was not going to be our forever home. Don’t get me wrong – I love my California roots, but we have found our forever home and Portland is the best place for family, kids, wine, coffee and books – a little bit of heaven. The only sad part is neither of us has family here, but we have found family with our Portland friends.
How did spinning show up in your life?
Portland is where I fell in love with indoor cycling. I joined a gym in the Pearl and had no idea taking spinning classes was going to shape my future.
My body type has been curvy or voluptuous, as I like to put it. I used to walk by the spin room and think, “I wish I could do that!” I had told myself I was not in good enough shape. You know, all those unhealthy things we tell ourselves as to why we cannot do something. One day I just said, I could do this. After the first class I was hooked. I had found an awesome workout that was fun and challenging – it changed my life.
When did you open your doors?
We opened Vortex in June of 2016. My son and husband have been a great help.
It takes a village. Even though we don’t have family here, our friends have been amazing through all this. From the beginning of having the idea of opening the cycle studio, my husband has shared the workload. We share the daily work, whether it’s dinner, groceries or our son’s homework. And I am lucky that Lee enjoys being at the studio.
What are some of the surprises of owning your own business?
No surprises really. Just affirmations. Affirmations that I love meeting new people and sharing my love for indoor cycling. I get pleasure making people feel good about themselves.
In my other life before Vortex, I spent my professional life working in higher education as a counselor for college students. This is different. Bottom line, I love helping people! Now I help people exercise. I get to make a difference in people’s lives every day and help them burn calories, get stronger and improve cardiovascular health. I might be taking them out of a bad day and make them laugh or even make them feel good about their bodies. I think I give them a sense of euphoria that hardcore exercise can do.
How does music and pedaling work?
I love music. I have a lot of fun making playlists for my classes. I like all types of genres. If the music has a good beat, I will use it. We pick moves that match the tempo of the music. This makes all the classes different and fun. I pride myself on having music that everyone enjoys – a combination of songs people know and some new ones, even some familiar songs with a twist.
Your first cycling class is free at Vortex. Ask Stephanie about senior discounts and teen programs.