Christine Noonan (who is a big fan of 6ix Cycle and will be running the stretch portion of a Spin ‘n’ Stretch class on August 20th) had the pleasure of sitting down with Julie Dee, one of the owners of 6ix Cycle, to talk about how she launched this popular new boutique studio.
Well TO Do: Please introduce yourself to the Well TO Do readers.
Julie Dee: My name is Julie and I am the Chief Idea Officer, a Squad Leader, and Co-Owner of 6ix Cycle Spin Studio!
WTD: What inspired you to start 6ix Cycle?
JD: I had been working in corporate oil and gas in Calgary for a number of years and when the market crashed in 2015, I realized how uninspired I was in my career and started looking for career change opportunities. My husband Sheldon lost his job around the same time, forcing us both to entertain options outside of the industry. Fitness was a huge part of my life and I realized that it was something I really wanted to pursue. I have a strong passion for fitness and in recent years when I had started teaching spin I used it as a way to share that passion with others. I knew that no matter what career changes we made, I wanted to continue to share my passion for spin and fitness with other people and continue to change lives.
In June of 2016 I was in Toronto for a business trip and decided to search for fitness studios, namely spin studios, and was surprised at how few there were (at that time) for the size of the market. This got the wheels turning, and while having post workday cocktails with a colleague, 6ix Cycle was born.
WTD: When did you take your first spin class? What was it about your own spin journey that shaped the vision for 6ix Cycle?
JD: I took my first spin class in 2013 after a friend of mine literally dragged me to it. I will never forget that first class. The energy in the room was amazing; we really were all in it together. The music was on point and I got lost for 50 minutes without even realizing I was working out. After the first class, I was hooked. I started spinning 4-5 times per week and dragged Sheldon (at first, begrudgingly) until we both became regulars at the studio. I was given the opportunity to teach at a new studio in Calgary in 2014 and my journey evolved from spin junkie to spin instructor. I never really understood how powerful teaching spin could be until one of my regular riders came up to me after about three months and shared his weight loss journey. He told me how much of a role both me, and my classes, had played in it. I was both humbled and proud, and I still get goosebumps when I think about that moment.
Everything about my spin journey shaped the vision for 6ix Cycle. When Sheldon and I were regular spinners, going at least three times per week, we noticed that the studio we were attending was very ‘cliquey’ and the instructors for the most part, were unapproachable. We enjoyed the classes so much that we overlooked that aspect and it wasn’t until I became an instructor myself that I realized how important it was to include everyone and make them part of the team. I also learned how important safety was during my own personal spin journey battling both hip and shoulder injuries and made sure to focus on Rider Safety when designing the program for 6ix Cycle classes.
WTD: The first time we met, you gave me a quick rundown of your background and how 6ix Cycle came to be. It sounds like quite the wild ride! Please share this story with our readers.
JD: Ha! It certainly was a journey! After deciding that 6ix Cycle was something we wanted to pursue, Sheldon and I flew out to Toronto in July of 2016 to look at spaces and see what Toronto had in store. We fell in love with our space on West Queen West after spending the afternoon in the area getting a feel for the surrounding community and started lease negotiations the following week. Sheldon and I were still working our jobs in Calgary, and due to the magnitude of the leap we were about to take we decided to keep the idea on the down low until we had all the pieces in place. Keeping a budding business idea secret from literally everyone you know is a feat in itself (and for those who know Sheldon and I, the ‘double-life’ stuff is DEFINITELY out of our comfort zone!).
We were officially handed the keys on November 1, and the story began to unfold. Given that we were both still working in Calgary, we put our faith in a few local parties to get things rolling, which we quickly learned was a mistake. At the end of December, Sheldon left his corporate job and moved to Toronto to manage the project. We faced several delays at the start which, in turn, pushed our projected opening from early March to late April (which also contributed to some new grey hair growth), but things started running a bit better in February as the space transformed. While Sheldon moved to Toronto to manage the project, I stayed in Calgary and worked my corporate job to keep a steady income until we were ready to open. At the end of January, I began flying back and forth from Calgary to Toronto weekly to train my instructors in a makeshift studio in our Parkdale apartment.
WTD: Say what? You turned your apartment into a spin studio to train your instructors?
JD: Yup! We put 16 bikes in our living room and trained the 6ix Squad Leaders Friday through Sunday for 2-3 hours per session, for eight weeks in our apartment. I worked in Calgary Monday to Thursday, and flew to Toronto after work on Thursday night returning on the red eye on Sunday. You realize exactly what you’re made of when you schedule your life like that (and you also realize how well you can actually function on little to no sleep!!)
Most of our instructors had little or no spin experience so we started from the bottom (cue the Drake music). I must say, I am so proud of our team and how far everyone has come from the beginning. We started training with me teaching spin class after spin class and then grew from everyone teaching one song through to full playlists by the end. Everyone sort of rallied together to help push and motivate each other through training, the support network was so incredible we were almost sad to be finished when the studio opened.
WTD: Within the 6ix Cycle core values, community is at the very top. Why is community so important to you?
JD: Community by definition is a social unit or group of people who have something in common (norms, values or identity). At 6ix Cycle, community is a familiar thread used to bring people together to advocate and support each other in the fight to overcome their battles and become their best selves. It’s human nature to desire a sense of belonging as that connects us and helps us develop valuable, long lasting relationships, which is what the 6ix Squad is all about. It’s more than just spin; the experience itself is life changing.
WTD: You encourage riders to “Find your 6ix side.” What does this mean? How do you help them get there?
JD: I believe that we all have a Warrior inside of us; there is that super strong, resilient person inside of us who shows up in the heart of the struggle and pushes us through the storm. That person, that Warrior, we refer to as your 6ix Side. We encourage all of our riders to push limits and boundaries during class and when they’re on the edge, to find their 6ix Side and push through the struggle. I am a firm believer that if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you and I know that nobody signs up for a spin class to stay the same. Our goal is to push you day by day, to be the best version of yourself and to walk out of the spin room a little stronger than you were when you walked in.
WTD: The studio prides itself on making everyone feel included. Why are you so passionate about inclusivity?
JD: As I mentioned before, when Sheldon and I were spinning regularly at the beginning of our journey, we were never made to feel like part of the “cool kids club” even though we were attending 3-4 classes per week. I don’t ever want any of our riders to feel that way. When you walk through the door at 6ix Cycle. you become part of the family. We welcome all riders into the 6ix Squad with open arms, no matter who they are or where they came from.
WTD: What’s next for 6ix Cycle?
JD: For the short term, we are focused on building our business here on West Queen West. We are just shy of three months old and have a lot of growing left to do. Long term? I hope for another studio, and I have a few ideas up my sleeve!
WTD: What’s exciting you most about the Toronto wellness scene right now?
JD: I actually love how spin crazy the city is becoming! A year ago I never would have imagined things to turn in the direction they have. I’m so excited that spin has become something to talk (and Instagram) about!
WTD: Anything else you would like to share?
JD: The experience at 6ix Cycle is more than just a spin class, the bikes become accessories to what can happen in that room and we encourage you to come and see for yourselves what it’s all about.
We would love to offer WTD readers a discount on regular class package purchases! Use the code WTD10 to save 10% on your next purchase on the website at 6ixcycle.com
Follow us on social media, @6ix_cycle, to stay up to date with the latest events and activities.
All photos included in this article courtesy of Adam Deunk!