Black-owned spin studio switches gears to serve community in crisis

Faced with the impact of coronavirus, Spiked Spin owner Briana Owens focuses on how she can help people over making a profit.

(Photo: Courtesy of Briana Owens/Spiked Spin)

“It’s not a matter of, ‘okay, ridership is low’ or something like that. It’s literally a matter of we cannot be open,” Briana Owens, founder of Spiked Spin, tells me a couple of days after the coronavirus pandemic had shut down nearly all of New York City, including health clubs.

Spiked Spin is a movement that started in 2016 by the Hampton University alum turned digital advertising maven, who saw a void in spin studios for Black women like herself and decided it was time for a different standard. 

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“I was taking different cycling classes all around New York City and really noticed a lack of diversity in the space. I started off just kind of getting certified to teach. I was teaching at other studios for a few years and then I decided I wanted to be the one to make that change and I created Spiked Spin,” Owens explains over the phone since social distancing, our new standard has shifted our previous interview plans.

Spiked Spin is the first boutique cycling studio in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. The studio, with hip hop culture at its center, opened its doors in November 2019. Since its opening, Spiked Spin has not only been welcomed with open arms by the community for which it was created but has received critical acclaim from mainstream media outlets, from Refinery29 to Good Morning America.

Did I mention that Briana is a mere 30-years-young and funded Spiked Spin with her own savings?

“We did a round of community fundraising, which was pretty good, but I worked the entire time so that all of the money the brand raised we could just reinvest back into it. I didn’t take a salary from Spiked. I still don’t. So, all the money we make, we just reinvest,” she says. 

Briana Owens during her grand opening of Spiked Spin. (Photo: Courtesy of Briana Owens/Spiked Spin)

Spiked has basically been a real-life Little Engine That Could story, so even as one of the newer Black-owned businesses on the block, surviving coronavirus may just be its next hurdle to overcome. However, this time Spiked is not alone; business owners all across the city are facing a harsh new reality for the foreseeable future.

As Owens puts it, “Entrepreneurship looks really cute on Instagram… [But] we consistently overcome problems every day. Right now, going through this coronavirus, we have to figure out how we’re going to continue to pay the rent for the studio.” 

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So, I’m wondering what’s Briana’s strategy this time around, but she explains that this “hurdle” has her stumped.

“Unfortunately, it’s such a new thing that I don’t have answers right now. This is something where I’m figuring it out in real-time because this was something that no one could have prepared for,” she says.

As she continues to speak though, it’s evident she’s onto something.

“I’m in my house trying to think about things like, ‘what does this mean for the brand,’ and ‘how do we solve it’ while also wanting to be considerate that there’s a whole world that people who may not be working. For me to come out with another thing to buy just doesn’t feel genuine for me,” Owens says.


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March classes are available to book! Hit the link in bio to pull up for a ride! ? – #thespikedway

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“The businesswoman in me is trying to understand how to keep the business going as we move through this, but the human in me is like, ‘but somebody needs to feed their child.’

“So, offering them a paid workout program or, you know, like this thing that they don’t really need right now in comparison to some of the bigger priorities is what I’m kind of wrestling with. I’m just trying to see the bigger picture while thinking through how long we can financially sustain the business.”

As someone who that same morning got charged $100 by a corporate gym that I can’t even use, I think this is a power move, in the non-conventional sense of the term.

Briana is literally using her power as a community leader to empower the Spiked Spin family during these uncertain times where we’re all concerned about finances. Case in point— a series of free home workouts perfect for self-quarantining.

“The main goal of the Spiked Quarantine Challenge is to get yourself moving at least 30 minutes just so that you can stay in a routine, keep your blood flowing, keep your mind on other things outside of this situation,” Owens says.

It’s rare to see a business owner walking the walk, but she lives a Bed-Stuy, do or die mentality that comes in handy at times like this.

“Speaking truthfully, these people have been having to survive with limited supplies for a long time. I just hope that they continue to push through and that we as a community can remember that on the other side, it can be better as long as we make the best choices we can for each other, not only for ourselves.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus tests aren’t being prioritized in Black communities, doctors fear

Once the world returns to normal and Spiked Spin eventually re-opens its doors, those who want to show their support could do so by trying a class. You’ll be treated to 100% hip hop playlists including reggae, soca, afrobeats, and reggaeton curated by Spiked instructors.

Don’t forget your post-ride Instagram selfie with neon signage that reads, “insult the standard” as your backdrop. 

According to Briana, that phrase means to always exceed any expectations or parameters that have been given to you so that you can live in your fullest self. She insists that the mantra can mean whatever you make it. You define it.

Whether it’s leveraging Spiked Spin’s social media not just for relevancy but because she wants to “hear the feedback that clients and the community have immediately” or understanding that although Spiked was created by a Black woman, diversifying the wellness space extends to “different body types, socioeconomic backgrounds, and all races” — Briana continues to insult the standard.