Group exercise environments are intimidating, especially when you’re the only person that looks like you in the room. Add in the cost of attending these classes, and it seems they’re doing more harm than good. That’s just one of the many reasons Briana Owens decided to start Spiked Spin, a New York–based company that offers cycling classes for men and women of color.
“I don’t think cycling classes have ever really been marketed to minorities. To be clear, there are awesome minority instructors, but in terms of a brand that authentically and intentionally wants to open arms to the audience, it didn’t exist,” she tells StyleCaster. “When you look at where these facilities are located, the collateral, the music, the majority of the instructors—it’s clear.”
The 28-year-old, who took dance classes and ran track through high school, says her company is a direct response to the lack of cost-effective and inclusive fitness options within the thriving boutique industry. It also helps that indoor cycling is an intense workout but not hard on the joints; an important selling point for black people, who have historically faced a laundry list of health issues, like diabetes.
“Beyond the health benefits, I love that it’s an individual workout that allows you to feed off the energy of others and turn up to good music! For me, it’s the best of all worlds when working out.”
Speaking of music, playlists are a huge part of Spiked Spin’s appeal. Owens curates each and every one herself, in an effort to make the environment more welcoming. “I try to balance the new with the classic and set the vibe depending on the ride for the night.” And ultimately, it’s accomplished what traditional companies haven’t: an experience curated for and by people of color.
“Each rider is able to feel and experience a class and brand that was created with them in mind … not just a playlist targeted to them,” says Owens. “It’s the instructors, it’s the love that is shared amongst the Spiked Squad. We work hard to ensure all of the instructors are compassionate and passionate about heart health beyond body image. We turn up, but with a true purpose!”
Of course, the journey isn’t without its challenges. Owens still manages Spiked Spin with a full-time digital advertising job and somehow makes time for both. Although she feels “at ease” whenever she’s on a bike or chatting with other riders, it’s always “go time” in between those easier moments.
“To run a profitable business, cater to your audience, and to stay true to the brand’s purpose requires strategic moves in every direction. I am constantly thinking about how to get better and provide the best experiences for every person that encounters the brand,” she says. “I’m also always thinking a few years/goals ahead, so I am always on 10! It’s definitely not as pretty and glamorous as social media makes it, but it is so rewarding to know that I’m walking in my purpose.”
Owens counts other cycling companies as motivation but is careful to check her own comfortability when thinking of clients. It’s an ongoing challenge to see beyond her corporate background, where many of the people in her immediate circle are already familiar or comfortable with group fitness.
“When I step out of my bubble, I realize that there’s a huge market of women who don’t feel comfortable with the concept. I chat with women all of the time about their hesitancy due to their current fitness level, their body type, etc. It’s really about educating and showing them that this is for them as much as it is everyone else.”
With all that being said, to be a black woman creating safe spaces for women of color never gets old.
“It truly feels amazing! I am so grateful for every hardworking woman, entrepreneur or not!” she says. “The one piece of advice I have for budding entrepreneurs is to know your reason…. There are days that you question whether to go or stop. When you have a clear purpose for why you’re doing what you’re doing, you will always push through!”
Sign up for a Spiked Spin class here.