A: My name is Briana Owens and I’m the creator of Spiked Spin. I grew up in New York City, and I’ve also lived in Maryland and Atlanta. I went to Hampton University and was an English major, and now, I’m a Marketing Manager at CBS Interactive were I work with major tech brands to come up with marketing and brand strategies for their projects.
Q: Tell us a little bit about Spiked Spin and how you got your start.
A. Spiked Spin is a hip-hop cycling class that specifically caters to people of color. I’ve noticed that women are my core demographic, so I’ve made it more about them, but it started out and is still for everybody. It’s hip-hop spinning, essentially.
Where were you when you came up with the idea for Spiked Spin?
I was in a cycling class at New York Sports Club, when I was first approached
about teaching. The teacher came up to me after class and said, “Something about you- I was drawn to you riding. Have you ever thought about teaching?”
I’m like, “Actually, I’ve thought about it, but I work a full-time job and I love it. This is just what I do as my release and my form of exercise."
She said, “If you ever think about it, just reach out to me.”
Well, on a whim, I emailed her the next day like, “hey (laughs) you mentioned this to me. If you could just share more information before I throw myself out there, I’d appreciate it." She sent me this course and it was literally a one day certification. She told me that most people would need more training but seeing my form, one day would be enough.
I called my mom and I’m like, “I’m thinking about taking this certification."
My mom was actually very encouraging. She told me:
“Nothing bad can come of this. It’ll just be something you add to your life experience.”
That weekend I literally signed up for the course.
Q: Wow. That same week?
A: Literally. Monday my instructor approached me. Tuesday I emailed her. Wednesday I talked to my mom, and by Sunday, I found a training class.
Q: Damn, this is gonna be a good interview.
A: It’s sounds crazy, but I’m one of those people that has to do something immediately [when it’s in my brain] or it kind of just falls away, and since I knew that, I had that feeling inside and I just did it.
Q: I’m sure she was probably like, “This chick is crazy.”
Bri: She was probably like “This girl has been thinking about this for years.”
But I really wasn’t. I don’t know. I just had a feeling and went with it.
I’m finding things that I love and like and perusing them more fully just to see what comes of it, and I think that’s something that has come with age and just more security in who I am and who I want to be- I think that had a lot to do with it.
Q: That’s so real. So what happened next? You’ve got your certification. Now what?
Q: What did you love most about it?
I loved it because it was separate; it was the one thing that belonged to me. It didn’t belong to my friends and it was my own thing. One day, I was talking to my boyfriend, Zach, and I said,
“I love this, but on my playlist I always have to have the music that I like, plus the music that I would never listen to.”
Even when I’m teaching, I would say “Damn, this would be so much better if this was Nicki Minaj or Meek Mill."
That’s kind of where Spiked Spin came from; it started with the music.
A. I just starting reaching out to my friends that I knew worked out a lot and I said, “Hey do you know anyone that owns a gym?”
They were like "Um what?"
And I’m like "Uh, yeah, I’m looking to ya know, get a little space," and sure enough someone did.
I started with one class just to see how it would go and now, in May, it’ll be 1 year.
Q: Congratulations! One thing that you said that really stood out to me is when you spoke about spin being something you could own for yourself, something you didn’t have to share. When you started your own company and invited your friends, how did you get them to be comfortable enough to learn the technique and let lose to give it a try? A lot of black women I know don’t like spin because they think the seat hurts, or it doesn’t do anything. How did you make that work?
A: I’m so glad you said that and you understand my core issues. I’m actually going to teach a de-bunking class on the misnomers of spinning so that people feel more comfortable trying it. That’s been my number one challenge- getting people to try it once. The technique that has worked best for me is word of mouth. When people hear it from me, I’m the instructor- I spin all the time- so they don’t take it seriously, but when they hear it from people who have taken my class, they’re more open.
I try to challenge people the same way I challenge myself:
Q: Ok. Let’s switch it up. What is your favorite song to ride to?
A: My favorite song to ride to right now is "Push It" By O.T Genasis, but I like the Remix with Quavo and Remy Ma. That has become a Spiked Spin favorite! I look at my guys and girls in class and every one is turning up!!
A: Stop. You already know it’s gonna be Beyonce
Q: You know she actually goes to Soulcycle- like right now- pregnant?!
A: If she’s been doing it (prior to being pregnant), her body is probably used to it. I wouldn’t start as a beginner, if you’re pregnant, but you can definitely continue if you’ve been doing it and it’s apart of your work out.
That’s a tip,ladies!
A: I think the best thing is when I introduce it somewhere, people have already heard about it. To me, that is the best feeling. Even if they haven’t been, the fact that they’ve heard about it makes me feel like I’m doing something right.
Q: That's so awesome. What is the hardest thing about having your own business?
A: I would say there are three things:
1.People that you love not understanding your vision
To me, that has been very difficult because I tend to be very supportive and sometimes when your friends and family don’t get it, it can be hard. To me, spinning is like a cult; people who know about it know a lot about, and people who know nothing about it, really know nothing about it, so it means nothing to them that I started a cycling company, but out of that, that’s God telling me that what is for me is for me and everyone doesn’t need to necessarily understand the vision.
2.Getting people to try it
Spinning is something you have to experience to understand. I don’t sell a tangible product- It’s not like I can say, “smell this candle.” (laughs)
If you’re not in the room, you may not get it. I want to continuously challenge myself to figure out how to get people to try it without needing to see me do it.
Having to be 100% at my day job, my business, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister. I carve out the hour that I would go to lunch and make that an hour of phone calls or scheduling. Sometimes, It can be heavy, because I put a lot of pressure on myself, but It's who I am.
Q: You talked a lot about your vision and people not understanding it. What is your vision for Spiked Spin?
A. It started off with music, but it became like a life mission. I feel like with us being minorities, we’re left out of a lot of awesome experiences, awesome ways to live life and see life. It seems like it’s just a spin class, but we go through so many mentally emotional things. When you’re on that bike, you’re almost at your weakest moments, because it’s tough.You have to choose: am I going to get on that bike or am I going to get off?
In that moment, you decide who you want to be, if you’re going to push through, or if you’re going to give up. To me, that sets the tone for how you live. It’s something that’s very important to me.
My vision for Spiked Spin is to grow it and make it bigger than ever. I want people to say,
"I go to Spiked Spin and it’s for me, by me."