Michelle August has been a devoted athlete since she was a child. At three years old, she began water and snow skiing. She played soccer throughout her childhood. And she followed this up with basketball in high school and university. Then, in 2014, she turned her passion for fitness into a fully-fledged business idea and launched SPINCO, a cycling studio in her hometown of Kelowna B.C. At the time, she was only 22 years old.
Fast forward to today, and SPINCO is the largest and only national indoor cycling studio, spread across the country in 12 different locations, all thriving on a high dose of team spirit, motivation, and positive attitudes. As a fitness guru and business owner, Michelle has tons of insight on launching your own company, achieving your own goals, and how to give back to the community. Read on as we chat about all things fitness, business, and spin.
Let’s start from the beginning. What is SPINCO and what inspired you to launch it?
When I came back to Kelowna after playing varsity basketball in California, I lost the drive to work out and missed the team atmosphere. I struggled to find something similar back home, so I decided I wanted to build a workout space focused on teamwork so that other people could have the same strong community feeling that I did with my team.
From there I built SPINCO, where the goal of each spin class is to work together as one team in unison to the beat of the music. It’s designed to take riders on a transformative and empowering journey. I’m so proud to share that since our first location in Kelowna, we’ve grown to over 12 locations across the country.
Walk us through your career path. Have you always been/wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I’ve always been an athlete and participated in team sports growing up, and I enjoyed playing in a team setting. What truly inspired me to create my own business was the idea behind creating a welcoming and supportive team atmosphere. I think my constant participation in sports throughout my life has helped me excel in other areas, such as business.
So, you started your business at 22 years old, which is super impressive. What tips can you offer for millennial women looking to launch their businesses?
Find your passion. All the uncertainties along the way are worth it! There is no better feeling than creating something that you can watch thousands of people enjoy.
What are some challenges that you faced while developing your business?
The most challenging but also fulfilling part of developing SPINCO has been seeing us grow so quickly and seeing it become the largest spin studio in Canada. In four years, we have opened 12 locations across Canada, with more expansion plans underway and new exciting milestones to achieve. That’s obviously been a quick pace to grow at, but the team atmosphere and the brand being my passion has kept me going.
What drew you to spinning?
I always enjoyed outdoor cycling in Kelowna, where I grew up, but I knew that I wanted to build a workout and experience that people could look forward to doing throughout their day. Mostly, I wanted to create a community, and I knew spinning could do that because it’s designed to uplift and inspire the class as one team.
Why do you think boutique fitness studios (such as spin, barre, pilates), as opposed to more generalist gyms, are so popular right now?
Boutique gyms cater to specific workouts, and often the consumers who are drawn to these studios are attracted to that particular type of exercise. They also help build stronger communities because the majority of the people that go to these boutique gyms know that they share the same interest and passion with the other people there.
What sort of lifestyle does SPINCO promote?
SPINCO promotes a community that is kind, respectful, supportive, welcoming, and genuine. We look for ways to bring people together and create connections, so our classes that are designed to uplift riders, no matter their fitness level.
Tell me about your slogan “ONE TEAM. ONE BIKE.” What does this mean?
At SPINCO, our mission is to build a community-like atmosphere. So, in other words “one team.one bike” means: as we move in unison to the beat of the music, we are stronger together.
What can people expect from a SPINCO class?
The SPINCO journey is transformative and empowering. It’s a 50-minute exercise designed to challenge riders mentally and physically. It is different from many other workouts because it is not just about physical fitness, but also wellness as a whole.
We ride to the beat of the music and the instructors tailor their choreography to their playlists to keep riders engaged. You can expect to work your butt, core, and arms in a SPINCO class.
Tell me about your various philanthropic ventures. Which causes are you particularly passionate about helping?
My brother and I launched a family foundation that supports Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides accommodation for families with sick children and this has been an incredible passion project for both of us.
At SPINCO, we also host our weekly Spin-It-Forward classes that raise money every month for a variety of national charities, including Canadian Mental Health Association, The Canadian Breast Cancer Society, Canadian Feed the Children, and Movember. Studios also have the freedom to select local charities and initiatives in their neighbourhoods to support and raise funds for.
What some new fitness/wellness trends that should be on our radar right now?
At SPINCO, we believe in the “beats high, lights low” kind of mentality. This style of riding to the beat has piqued the interest of people, specifically the younger demographic and could definitely considered a trend in fitness right now. “Beats high, lights low” is designed to engage people from start to finish and challenge them to work hard and find the motivation within.
What are some unhealthy approaches to fitness and health that you wish people would stay away from?
I don’t believe I’m here to tell people what is unhealthy vs. healthy for their body. Everyone creates their own path to wellness and health, and we all have different interests, passions and sources of motivation. My advice would be to follow a fitness path that will motivate you to be the best version of yourself both mentally and physically.
Can you share your top three fitness tips with our readers?
One, as mentioned before, is find a fitness routine that supports you to be the best version of yourself mentally and physically. Two, work out in a space that motivates you and challenges you every time you go. And three, this is both a fitness tip and life mantra: “You are as strong as the people you surround yourself with.”
You’ve collaborated with some great athleisure brands like Lululemon and Champion. What was this experience like?
It is always great working along brands that support your business and that are always looking for ways to get innovative and engage with our brand and community. Athleisure is also such a relevant category to our riders who are busy and need clothes to toss on from the studio to their next activity of the day.
What are some other fitness clothing brands that you love?
In terms of athletic wear, I’ve always been a huge Nike fan, but some of the newer brands I’m loving are; Reigning Champ (I love that they are Canadian-based!), Alala, Girlfriend Collective, and Years of Ours.
Tell us about your daily routine, in terms of fitness, health, food, etc.
As we are expanding SPINCO so quickly, so I currently have anything but a daily routine! I’m always eating on the fly and going from coast to coast to support our studios. Making it to a spin class keeps me grounded and feeling like myself when I’m on the go all the time.
Who do you look to for fitness inspiration?
SPINCO’s instructors. They all truly amaze me and embody both SPINCO’s lifestyle and never quit work ethic. Knowing the busy lives that they live outside of the studio, it’s inspiring to watch them put so much into their classes and playlists to pay it forward to motivate their class of riders.
What’s on your workout playlist?
A little bit of everything, it totally depends on my mood and the type of workout.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
My dream is to continue to grow SPINCO and bring its vibrant community to many more cities across the country. And personally, to fill my life with amazing friends, family and colleagues. I’m so content in my life and the amazing things SPINCO brings to my life, I’m focusing more on the present than the future.