Stax: steez to the max. (For those who don't speak hip hop, steez means "plain ol style with ease.") From the minute you walk through the doors of this slightly hidden spin studio to the moment you walk out of your class, the experience at Stax is filled with warm smiles from the front desk staff, the scent of that season's blue-coloured candle, a oddly comfortable combination of butt kicking classes and heart-centred encouragement from the city's top instructors and a hard-earned high-five (and the occasional hug) at the end of class.
Stax is a spin experience like no other that I have tried. I have been spinning for many years, and if you know me, you'll likely been annoyed by my slightly evangelistic attitude toward this workout. Nowhere else in this city have I felt more positivity, unity and community than I have here. Since Stax will be celebrating their official ONE YEAR next week, I thought it apropos to sit down with co-founders Emily and Katie to chat more about their experience as entrepreneurs since Stax's launch.
It has officially been one year since you opened the door to Stax. How has the last year been?
Being an entrepreneur is hard. You have to be so mentally prepared to take it on. But the rewards are massive. When we see instructors training other instructors, there's this moment of "Look at what we built!" That makes up for all the sucky stuff. When you have those thoughts where you wonder why you did this, those shiny moments come up and you know that you were meant to do this.
Doing this together was also one of the best decisions we made. You need that other person to bounce ideas off, to keep things going when you need to give yourself a break and to keep you sane. You need someone with you who is in it, who feels the same emotions, who understands it. And Katie and I have different skill sets, and they complements each other. We don't try to do the things we aren't good at - we work well together.
What have been some of your favorite moments?
We loved the TKW Ride with the Toni-Khon Woodward Foundation. They were amazing to work with, and we have built such a special relationship with them. Toni Khon was a an incredible girl, loved spin. After she passed suddenly, they started doing charity rides to help fund Toni's House which was going to support women in need. They did a ride in Calgary, and a bunch of studios got together to help out. It was such a meaningful, teary-eyed moment that you never forget.
Another highlight was our Britney Challenge. We decided to do a challenge that was polar opposite to what anyone else was doing. It was performance based, and we weren't going to just show up and put a checkmark in a box. No, you need to work for it. We just said, "you know what, you show up and put in the work we're going to send you to Vegas." That was a such a unique approach, and it was brainstormed by the team. What I love about this place is the instructors have a huge role in our business and how we market it. Our instructors are so talented and our job is to make their ideas come to life. And so they feel like their ideas are truly valued because we make it happen.
The other one is Ride the Roof. We had two instructors teach during the event. Mel G, who is one of the most legitimate, well-known and credible instructors in the city, falls high up there. And for one of our newer instructors, Shane (who ROCKED the show at Ride the Roof), this event helped him build his confidence and motivation as an instructor. I'm so proud of those two.
How has your community evolved since Stax started?
I think for me and all of our instructors, Stax has created a whole new purpose in life. Katie and I are athletes, and we are comfortable in this team environment. There was a period of time in my life where I wasn't really a part of much, and I didn't feel connected. It's crazy that we created this little circle here. It's bigger than that, too. We have so many wonderful friends - Sweat Science, Junction 9, Barre Body Studio - in Inglewood and are working together to create the most amazing hub. I also think Inglewood is like "Inglewood up to no good." It's kind of has this badass, old-school vibe to it, and that's what I like about it.
You've already touched on this, but how have you grown as entrepreneurs? What are some of the biggest lessons you can share for other entrepreneurs?
We think the biggest thing is resilience, and you need to have thick skin. You need to be ready for the criticisms, for the opportunists who might take your ideas. Our business was trademarked by a competitor right before we opened just to mess with us and force us out of this industry. We have never felt so personally attacked than we did in the moment we found out. The silver lining is that we now know more about trademarks and branding that I ever thought I would. We ended up changing our name, and we wouldn't call ourselves anything else.
The other lesson is invest your time, energy and resources wisely. Spend time doing what you can and outsource the rest.
What do you think has set Stax apart from the other spin studios in Calgary?
Our spin program is tough. We expect our instructors to have a solid understanding of the program. Once an instructor has shown us that they can deliver consistently, we give them a lot of freedom to create their own class experience. Our classes need to be tough, I want people drenched when they walk through those doors, but I want our instructors to put their own personality in their classes.
We also don't try to be something that we aren't. It's real. We know that life is great sometimes, and we celebrate that. But we also know that life sucks sometimes, so we are going to sweat it out together.
What can we expect from Stax in the next year?
Lots of growth. We have 20 instructors in training right now. We will be building up our schedule, adding more evening and weekend classes.
We have a cool event coming up in October. We are running a campaign with The Sweat Science called Building an Army of Strong Women. It's all about empowering each other, building a community. We have guest instructors, doing rides with some local charities and some other fun stuff!
And we might be having another challenge in November, so make sure to connect with us to be the first to know!
Connect with Stax:
Facebook: Stax Cycle Club