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INKED: FLY Instructors Share the Meaning Behind Their Tattoos

By December 16, 2014 No Comments


Did you know that more than 45 million Americans have a tattoo? If you haven’t already noticed, many of our FLY instructors are covered in ink – and their designs symbolize much more than you’d think. Given their outgoing and unique personalities, we were curious to learn more about what inspired these instructors to get their tattoos in the first place. Of course, we were surprised by what we learned! From Flywheel logos in secret places to artwork covering an entire back, these photos will teach you even more about the diverse personalities that make up our #FLYfam.


Tattoo: I have over 50 tattoos!
Location of my tattoos: Both arms are covered. I have tattoos on both pectoral muscles, my left shoulder blade, down the right side of my torso, on my lower left abdomen, my right ankle and on the arches of both feet.
The Story: My tattoos have become a part of me over the past 23 years. I got my first tattoo when I was 22-years-old and as I remember it, I got it just as a way of asserting my independence. Over the years, I’ve added ink regularly and each tattoo has special meaning to me. I have tattoos that recognize and celebrate my husband and daughters, that acknowledge my sobriety, that memorialize my dad and tattoos that inspire me.
When I look at my tattoos, I feel… Happy, unique and empowered. I love my tats and can’t imagine my body without them!


Tattoo: A bike à la London street sign
Location of my tattoo: Left ankle, inside
The Story:  I wanted to get a tattoo for a long time, but had no idea what I wanted to get. In 2013, I was in London with Ryan Makely for the opening of our Shoreditch House studio, and Ryan mentioned that he was going to get another tattoo while he was there. I figured that this was the perfect time for me to do it! There was no better way for me to represent what was going on for me at this time in my life. I was in London (my first time in Europe), on a business trip for my absolute dream job. We were walking around and I saw a street sign with the cycle symbol and knew it was the tattoo for me.
Looking at my tattoo…  I am reminded of how fortunate I am to do what I love. I see my bike tattoo every time I teach or ride.


Tattoo: Handprint, name and birthdate of my son
Location of my tattoo: Upper right arm
The Story:  I got this tattoo shortly after my son was born. I was 21-years-old at the time, in the Marine Corps about to face my second deployment. Being that I was a new father and about to leave my son for the next year, I wanted to have a permanent reminder of him to keep my spirits up until I could be with him again. A tattoo only seemed natural, as I am quite a fan of going “under the gun.” I used his actual handprint for the tattoo along with his first and middle name and his birthdate. I was very pleased with the outcome. This serves as a visual reminder for me every morning for why I must push further and harder for success.
My tattoo… Is my own personal instructor, if you will. Every time I look in the mirror or see it on my arm, I immediately think about staying focused, driven and being the best role model that I can be for my little guy.

Zach Hollistemain

Tattoo: Tree with mandalas
Location of my tattoo: Back and left torso and gluteals
The Story: I am in the process of getting this tattoo, which will take approximately four to six more seven-hour sittings. I have always wanted a tattoo of a very large tree, but never took the leap. However, this past January, I decided that I was ready. I was grounded and growing in a direction that I was proud of. A tree is both of those things—grounded and reaching for new levels. The mandalas represent love, change, beauty and life.
When I look at my tattoos, I feel…  Like I can be myself; that I am free to express who I truly am. They also give other people permission to fully be whoever they are. And yes, they are pretty badass!

Aina Williams-main5280

Tattoo:  The Flywheel logo
Location of my tattoo:  Left butt cheek
The Story: I got my tattoo during the first-ever Flywheel holiday party, in December of 2010. At the time, Flywheel only had about 40 employees and we took part in a scavenger hunt. The task that rewarded the most points was having a team member get a Flywheel tattoo. My teammate, fellow instructor Jesse Alexander, was relentless about me joining him in getting it done. I was hesitant at first, but my competitiveness, Jesse’s persuasiveness, and ultimately my faith in our owners and the company, won out and I had it done. When I showed up with the Flywheel tattoo at the holiday Christmas party, one of our execs jokingly told me they would “sue my ass” for copyright infringement! Needless to say, our team was victorious. Since then, we have opened over 25 locations and our story was shared in an article in the NY Post – great investment!


Sorry, we had to keep it PG! Here’s Chris with Flywheel CEO and instructor Jesse Alexander at the Flywheel holiday party. 

Tattoo: Floral half sleeve
Location of my tattoo: Left upper arm
The Story: My flower tattoos are near and dear to my heart. They are the state and regional flowers from all the places I’ve ever lived and represent the people who have touched my life in special ways. When I’m flying, they remind me that, although not “perfect,” my body tells the story of my life. It carries me throughout each day and as I grow stronger on the bike, I grow stronger in every aspect of my life. My tattoos make me feel capable and connected. They scream about my loud and in-your-face personality. But they also show that I am deeply spiritual and sentimental. The only thing left to do to make my sleeve complete, is to add a viola to represent my home in Illinois and all the amazing members of my #FLYfam here in Chicago!

everett tattoos-main

Tattoo: Bike chain in a heart shape
Location of my tattoo: Right calf muscle
The Story: I got this tattoo as a constant reminder of how far I’ve come in my personal and professional life, and how much cycling as changed my overall self. I am currently at my lowest weight ever!
When I look at my tattoos, I feel… Empowered and sexy.


Tattoo: Owl and flowers
Location of my tattoo: Right shoulder and arm
The Story: My tattoo is a work in progress. The owl is a representation of family. Since I was little, owls have always held strong symbolism for me. The three flowers are representative of my core values: gratitude, respect and honesty.
My tattoos… Are a constant reminder of what is most important in my life. When I fly they remind me to challenge myself and inspire others to do the same!
josh tattoos-main

Tattoo: Firework
Location of my tattoo: Left wrist
The Story: There’s so much behind this tattoo. Inspired by a lyric from Katy Perry’s “Firework” (I love that girl so much it’s ridiculous), the lyric refers to overcoming all darkness and obstacles. A firework is an object of flight that gets rid of this darkness. If only for a moment, everything is ok, everything is beautiful. It takes people from all walks of life and brings them to one location to share in the same experience, the same feelings, whether they realize it or not. My tattoo, and this song, remind me of the spirit of youth, as I’ll never forget the first time I saw fireworks at Disney World as a kid and how happy it made me. My tattoo is also a symbol of celebration. I am a firework. YOU are a firework. “C’mon let your colors burst!” – Katy Perry
My tattoo… Legit has Harry Potter powers! When something good happens—something awesome, badass, inspirational, amazing—basically all of the feelings that come with loving every second of being on the bike, the tattoo tingles. Ever since I got it, that’s what happens. My tattoo makes me feel like I can do anything.



What about you? Do you have a tattoo? What motivated you to get it?



We asked instructors from coast to coast to share the holiday traditions that they look forward to, what they are most thankful for this year and of course, what food they spend 364 days a year craving. Read their answers here.

Curious to know more about Holly Rilinger? Here she shares her fitness advice, the story to her success and of course…how she got her incredible abs.

“Kyle and Phillip are the perfect example of why we do what we do. It’s true that all we do is ride bikes together in the dark. But we also find strength, love, and friendship.” Chicago instructor Everette Moran shares his story on what being an instructor means to him.


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