Spinning is experiencing a resurgence right now, but the new era of spinning ain’t your average class; it’s sweaty, it’s intense, it pushes you to your limit and makes you wonder if you might puke or somersault over your handle bars. At least (even as someone who has been spinning since the age of 15) this has been my experience at many of today’s most popular studios. Since the hottest, hardest workout of the moment is often the topic of conversation amongst my friends and peers, the name ‘SPINCO‘ has come up in conversation multiple times, and everyone who has tried it praises the studio and classes for changing their body and lives. For real.
Naturally, I’ve been keen to hop on one of their bikes and it finally happened during the opening weekend of their newest downtown location of SPINCO Toronto, located at 129 Spadina Avenue. Yes the workout was hardcore, yes it was sweaty as hell, and yes I loved it, but, most of all I was dying to know more about the young boss woman behind the brand who has expanded her spin studio from one location in Kelowna to nearly nine locations across Canada. Keep on reading to learn more about the SPINCO founder, Michelle August, and how she grew her business in our latest instalment of #FounderFiles:
Business Name: SPINCO
Location: Multiple across Canada
Name & Title: Michelle August, Founder
Education: Orange Coast College
Edit Seven: Tell us about your business, what do you do?
Michelle August: SPINCO is the largest Canadian indoor cycling studio. We offer structured, full-body workouts on a bike, designed to strengthen the body, energize the mind, and feed the soul. The goal of each SPINCO class is to work together as one team, one bike, moving in unison to the beat of the music. Our classes are designed to keep our riders engaged from start to finish, challenging them to work hard and find that strength from within. It’s a really powerful feeling that our riders take with them long after class has finished.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
MA: I grew up as an athlete in a team setting. When I moved home after playing varsity basketball in California, I lost the drive to work out and really missed the team atmosphere. Shortly after that, I decided that I wanted to open a spin studio, focused on teamwork. Our slogan still to this day is ‘ONE TEAM. ONE BIKE’. Once SPINCO Kelowna was open, I knew that I couldn’t stop there. I had dreamed of having 5, maybe 10 studios across Canada. That goal quickly changed when I moved to Toronto and met my business partner Mike Kimel. Our 9th studio will be opening in Oakville this spring, and we have many more coming down the pipeline.
E7: Tell us about your past work experience and how it helped you create your company?
MA: My previous work and schooling didn’t really play a huge part in creating SPINCO. I was mostly inspired by my upbringing and playing team sports like soccer and basketball. I’ve always excelled in team settings both on and off the field or court. For me, SPINCO was about creating a welcoming and supportive atmosphere.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
MA: Oh man, I don’t even know where to start. I’d have to say that the number one reason why I love this job is the riders and our staff. They make this job fulfilling, exciting and most importantly, fun. I also love the ride. Our classes have helped me through some very difficult and stressful times. It doesn’t matter how bad my day might have been, the second the music starts and the lights drop, all of my stress melts away. Part of me secretly loves high-stress situations too; I work well under pressure! I find the days that I have to make huge decisions or take a chance on something, the most exhilarating.
E7: What makes your business special?
MA: One of the factors that makes SPINCO unique is our comprehensive in-house training program. The four to sixth month journey that our instructors undergo, ensures that they will feel completely comfortable and confident once they get up onto that stage. We have over 100 instructors, and 2 regional managers who work alongside our National Program Director to support our instructors. At SPINCO, you will always find a strong feeling of community between our instructors, team members and our riders. Our goal is to establish a personal connection from the moment someone walks through our doors. There really is something special and almost indescribable that goes on in that room once the lights are turned low, the music is pumping and you are able to let go and let it all out on the bike.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business?
MA: SPINCO has come a very long way and I’ve learned a great deal in three short years. It’s funny to look back and think about the times when our main method of communication was sticky notes! We now have comprehensive manuals for construction and design, software, processes and policies. The biggest and best lesson I’ve learned has been to give up the need to control and do everything myself and instead invest in growing and developing our people to become strong leaders. It’s very easy to have a vision and a goal, but success happens when people come together and work as a team.
E7: What have been some of the pros and cons or challenges of building your business in Canada?
MA: One of the best parts of opening studios across Canada is getting to visit so many of our amazing cities; many of which I may have never had the opportunity to see. This can also be one of the biggest challenges. Canada has many small cities that could only support one, maybe two of our locations. As much as I enjoy learning about this incredible country, the travel can be tough.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
MA: Passion. Find something that you are passionate about; something that doesn’t feel like a job. I can proudly say that I’ve never woken up and dreaded going to “work”. When starting SPINCO, my passion was about building a community and an amazing team; the bikes and spinning came second. SPINCO is so much more than a spin studio.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
MA: Wow, yes, lots! Starting SPINCO at the age of 22 may have been a bit risky but I walked into this opportunity with a vision and surrounded myself with people that I could trust and that could guide me along the way. I have been very involved in every aspect of growing SPINCO. To be completely honest, I’ve learned more over the past three years than I did in my 14 years at school.
E7: At what point did you decide it was time to open a second location for your business?
MA: I decided it was time to open a second location when I felt the need to create something again. I had the same feeling when I knew it was time to expand out of Kelowna. After a few months of being in operation, each studio reaches the point where it no longer requires much support. Our managers begin to feel very comfortable and eager to run the studio on their own. Our staff and instructors alike feel very comfortable in their roles, which allows us the pleasure of riding with over 6,000 members of our community each month.
E7: What has the process been like expanding your business to open 9 locations across Canada?
MA: #hard! To be completely candid, taking SPINCO nation-wide has been a challenging, but incredibly rewarding journey. It’s been full of setbacks and has certainly tested my patience, but I’ve learned a lot. There’s nothing else I would rather do.
E7: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their business in their city?
MA: Trust yourself, your team and your brand. If you are entertaining the idea of opening multiple locations, you’re probably killing it in your community. Why wouldn’t the rest of the city love it?
E7: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their business across the country?
MA: I feel like most Canadians have a very similar outlook on life and lead similar lifestyles. If you have a brand that is working well in your community, document your process and most importantly your core values. Talk to any family, friends or like-minded individuals in your desired community about your ideas. One thing I’ve found is that the more you talk about your goals and ideas out loud, the more feedback you will receive. Whether people agree or have different points of view, it’s all very helpful.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs to prepare for?
MA: Expect the unexpected and learn how to roll with the punches. Always, always, always look for the positive in every situation.
E7: What is a key tip you would share for managing multiple teams in multiple locations?
MA: Empowerment and trust are number one and two on my list. I empower my team by giving them an incredible amount of responsibility. I trust them implicitly to manage themselves and their teams as well as make decisions that align with our brand values. I am a firm believer that success doesn’t stem from micromanagement or hierarchies. I believe that one of my biggest strengths is the ability to see strength in others, and enable them to realize their full potential.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
MA: I have to give all of the credit to my right-hand, Daina Fitzgerald! Daina is our Regional Manager for SPINCO Toronto and keeps my world from imploding. She does so much more than just keeping me organized, balanced and motivated. I swear that she can read my mind. Alongside Daina, we have a number of staff who absolutely killed it in their role. Every ounce of energy that my team puts into their job keeps me motivated me in mine. Having their support keeps me going.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
MA: My business partner Mike Kimel. I have been working with Mike for just over two years. Mike has always been such an inspiration to me; he is an incredible business man. I admire him not only for his business savviness, but for his ability to remain calm, cool and collected even in the most challenging situations. My brother Matt owns two car dealerships in Kelowna and has taken his endless supply of beautiful cars and started a charity event called the Okanagan Dream Rally. This rally takes place once a year, and pairs children with special needs with exotic, luxury cars. The kids get to ride in the hot seat of their dream car for a day. It is so much fun and an unforgettable experience. Having raised more than $400,000 over the last three years, Matt’s philanthropy and drive to support others in his community continues to be extremely inspiring.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
MA: The closest thing I have to a daily ritual is walking my dog Molly to Starbucks every morning. After that my day is a complete whirlwind. I love how dynamic this business and my role is. Every day is different, which keeps me on my toes and continuously learning and growing.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
MA: I find inspiration everywhere and in everything. From the motivating words our instructors share during class, to watching people interact with one another, to thoughtful articles or just driving around, taking in the sights and sounds of our city. I’m often inspired by just looking out of my window and seeing all of the big banks with their names sprawled across the top of their buildings. One of my biggest goals is to have a SPINCO location at the ground level of a huge office building, develop a software which would enable us to use the energy for the bikes to power the all of the offices inside and have it read “Powered By SPINCO” in big letters along the top of the building.
E7: Who is the SPINCO client and why should people try out your studios?
MA: SPINCO doesn’t limit itself to one ‘type’ of person. We encourage people from all walks of life and all fitness levels to come in and ride with us. Whether it’s your first time in a gym or your 100th we want everyone to feel like they are apart of our community.
For more information on SPINCO and to find the location nearest you, please visit SPINCO.ca.