Casey Hilmer

Photo by Denise Haney

Today’s Shero Spotlight is Casey Hilmer, co-owner of Power Ryde, an indoor cycling studio located in Cincinnati! Casey owns Power Ryde with her mother, Meg, and is dedicated to not only encouraging the community to live active lifestyles, but to also giving back to her community. When Casey was 13, she was attacked by a neighbor with a knife while on an evening run with her dad. As a survivor, Casey strives to empower others to never give up, no matter the circumstances. Power Ryde has also hosted a variety of charity rides to fundraise for community nonprofits and has raised over $80,000 in the last seven years. I am thrilled to have such a strong, passionate and inspiring woman featured on the blog today!

Photo by Amanda Cawdry

When did you first become interested in health & fitness?
So I started running at the age of 10. My dad got me into distance running. So, I always played sports, but I didn’t enjoy running. It was the summer going into the fifth grade when I was 10 he was like, come run with me, and I didn’t want to but I just did it with him. So, we did two or three miles, which really isn’t that far, but when you’re 10 that seems so far, and then what seemed like every day for the rest of that summer he would have me go run with him. By the end of the summer, sometimes I would beat him and I’m very competitive and I started enjoying knowing I was faster than him and stuff like that. So, that’s when I started to consider myself a runner and just run for pleasure. I ran cross country throughout middle school and high school and I started to really love health, fitness and working out probably after I graduated high school. The summer after my senior year, I was running a lot, I got into cooking …  for some reason I just enjoyed fueling my body and knowing what I was putting in my body. So, I started Googling different healthy recipes and would watch Food Network and get ideas. So, I feel like that’s when things started to change where even though I had been running prior to that, I just I started to enjoy it more and I enjoyed not just the physical part but also the part about how you’re fueling your body so that you exercise better.

Did you ever run competitively?
I went to the University of Michigan, so I didn’t run for the school, it was just more pleasurable for me and my sophomore year, I ran the Columbus Marathon, so at the age of 19, and I finished fourth for females and I was shocked. I honestly didn’t think I could run a marathon and the summer going into my sophomore year I would just go on runs that were like 15 miles long, like it made no sense, but my dad was like, you need to like run a marathon, and I didn’t think I could do it and then, lo and behold, I did it and I did really well. The coach at the University of Michigan reached out to me about running for them and I just really wasn’t into it … Running became something I did for myself to clear my own head and I didn’t  want someone telling me how far I had to run or the pressure of having a race every weekend.

How did you get involved with spinning?
Two weeks after the marathon, I got injured but I just kept running because I loved it so much and I hurt my hips and so for years I just dealt injuries. That’s when I found indoor cycling and I started doing them and I felt like it was so hard. I was like, oh my gosh, I can run 13 miles and I can barely make it through a 45 minute class. It was just so different. So, then my senior year at the University of Michigan, a studio opened that had these cool bikes that we have here at the studio called the Real Ryder Bikes, and they tilt side to side and that’s when I fell in love with spinning.

Photo by Denise Haney

What motivated you to study psychology with an emphasis on pre-med?
After [the incident when I was 13], I suffered from severe PTSD and all through high school I saw a psychiatrist several times a week … When I graduated high school, I saw what my psychiatrist had done and I was like, wow, I could really like do that like, or help someone else, and use my story and help others. 

Why did you then open Power Ryde?
So, my MCATs weren’t great, I applied to 12 medical schools, I was on the waitlist at the University of Cincinnati for a while and then I didn’t get in and I was honestly so relieved when I didn’t because I think I knew it wasn’t the right path for me. So when I didn’t get in, my dad [encouraged me to start my own business]. I think I’ve realized there’s so many ways I can inspire people with my strengths and my story and courage other than being a doctor. 

How has being a survivor changed your outlook on life?
I think it really triggered something in me where I felt like it was my calling to just keep sharing my story and telling people like you can’t give up like you have to fight and like it might be hard. I mean, I feel like the actual attack itself wasn’t even the hard part for me, it was the years after and all of the PTSD, but you have to keep pushing and going and eventually it will get better. So, I feel like now everything I went through, it just shows me I can really get through anything.

What is one piece of advice you would give to young girls?
Don’t be scared to try and don’t be scared to fail, and always get back up and keep going. Because I feel like with my story, yeah, there was the attack, but then it’s like, there was running and I had that huge injury and couldn’t run anymore and then medical school, I was rejected 12 times there have been so many rejections in my life, but you have to keep going and you gotta just get back up and keep fighting. No matter what.

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As a senior studying magazine journalism at Ohio University and a passionate feminist, I created Freely Femme as a way to use my love for storytelling to highlight some of the most inspirational women in my personal life and beyond.

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