Their beats are high, their lights are low, and this is how they take over Toronto. SPINCO, Yonge & Eglinton’s uber popular spin studio, opened by powerhouse founder Michelle August, is about to open its seventh location (the second in Toronto), followed shortly by its eighth. We caught up with Michelle August to find out how the studio is managing the rapid growth, what we can expect from the new locations, and one of the main secrets to her success.
The opening of the downtown studio will be SPINCO’s seventh location (followed by the eighth up in Summerhill), but it will also make Toronto the first city to have more than one SPINCO location.
Why did you decide to expand within Toronto this time versus looking towards another city?
Michelle August: Although we started out as a West Coast company, SPINCO’s HQ is now based out of Toronto. As much as I loved the sunny Okanagan weather, I knew that basing SPINCO out of Toronto would be the best way to support our rapid growth. From a business perspective, I felt that there was a much wider net of opportunities for us here, not to mention the fact that Toronto is Canada’s largest city, making it the perfect location to open multiple studios.
The area where your first studio is located, Yonge & Eg, is a fairly underserved area in terms of fitness options, and the area where your eighth studio is opening, Summerhill, is similar.
Did that figure into your decision to open studios in those two locations and if so, how did you decide to open the first downtown studio in an area that’s much more densely populated with fitness options?
MA: There are many factors that go into choosing the right location for a new studio. We chose to introduce SPINCO at Yonge and Eglinton first because of the people. They are athletically-minded, family-oriented, and all about community, one of our core values.
We are super excited to be opening our downtown doors this month and welcoming a whole new community of riders. We had received a lot of feedback from riders who loved our classes, but found the commute from downtown to be too time consuming to remain consistent. We also have many riders who live uptown and work downtown that are excited to beat the traffic and take a class right after work, or start their day with SPINCO before heading into the office.
At SPINCO, we take a lot of pride in our comprehensive training program; all of our instructors undergo an extensive process. On average, it’s a four-sixth month journey before an instructor gets up on that stage. We have over 100 instructors, and two regional managers, Jordan Sangster on the West Coast and Adam Bateman on the East Coast, that work alongside our National Program Director, Jessica Turanec to support instructor development.
Opening up one studio is serious work but launching two new locations within months of one another is a feat unto itself. How are you managing the double launch and what are some of the challenges you’re facing?
MA: My team! They are such an amazing and driven group of individuals; I could not do this without them. Yes, we are all extremely busy, but just like our workouts, we thrive in fast-paced, high-pressure environments. The only challenges we’ve been faced with are construction related which are to be expected and out of our hands. On the bright side, this has allowed us to learn a great deal of patience! The suspense has definitely created a lot of excitement and buzz surrounding the openings.
While it’s been around forever, the growth of spinning in Toronto still seems to be on the upswing. To what do you attribute that continued growth?
MA: Alongside boxing, spinning is one of the only workouts that’s been popular for decades. It has evolved so much from the run of the mill spin class that you might find at a local gym, where the focus is on interval training in a brightly lit room. At SPINCO, we believe in the ‘beats high, lights low’ mentality. This style of spin has piqued the interest of a wider range of people, namely the younger demographic. 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.
What (if any) differences will we see in the next two studios versus the first uptown location?
MA: The class sizes change depending on the community, but all of our SPINCO studios, from coast to coast are extremely similar, from our studio design to the class structure. It is important to us that no matter where you are, when you walk into a SPINCO studio, you feel like you’re home.
What do you feel sets SPINCO apart from the other spinning studios both in our city and throughout the country?
MA: No matter what SPINCO location you visit, you will always find smiling, happy faces when you walk through our doors, whether that be our staff or riders. You will find a community that is kind, respectful, supportive, welcoming, and genuine.
We put a lot of emphasis in building a tight knit community between our instructors and team members, and I feel that that energy and inclusivity is what our riders are drawn to. It’s such a powerful feeling that many of our current staff (instructors, energy exchange and studio staff alike) started out as riders! There is something indescribable that goes on in that room when the lights are turned low, the music is pumping and you are able to have 50 uninterrupted minutes all to yourself, surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals.
How did you begin the SPINCO journey? What inspired you to open that first studio and then to continue to grow?
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 workout 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 five, maybe 10 studios across Canada. That goal quickly changed when I moved to Toronto and met my business partner Mike Kimel. Our ninth studio will be opening in Oakville this spring, and we have many more coming down the pipeline. SPINCO is able to maintain this rapid growth because of our team. Without each and every one of them, SPINCO would not be on its way to smashing our goal of 10 studios in just three short years.
Who or what helped you along the way?
MA: You are only as strong as the people that you surround yourself with. I owe much of SPINCO’s continued success and growth to the people who have helped make that possible: my team!
You’ve achieved tremendous success as a young entrepreneur with the incredible growth of SPINCO. To what do you attribute your success and do you have any advice for aspiring wellness entrepreneurs who might be reading this?
MA: SPINCO is so successful because of the incredible people that make up our company. My partners and my team have a lot of autonomy when it comes to the role that they perform at SPINCO. I trust them implicitly, which has allowed them to grow into roles that they are not only passionate about, but excel in. I don’t believe in micromanagement or hierarchies. I attribute a great deal of my success to my leadership style. One of my biggest strengths is the ability to see strength in others, and enable them to realize their full potential.
Check out our first review of Michelle August’s SPINCO here.
Read more coverage of Michelle August and her spin empire here.