Meet the Spin Studio Founder Who First Trained Instructors in Her Toronto Apartment
Julie Harrish on how she made it happen
Name: Julie Harrish
Job title: Co-owner of 6IX Cycle Spin Studio
From: Born in Vauxhall, Alta.
Currently lives in: Toronto
Education: Engineering technology at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
First job out of school: Field operator for Halliburton
The moment Julie Harrish had the idea to start her own spin studio, she went full throttle. “It was a fairly aggressive business plan,” she admits. In June 2016, Harrish—a spinning enthusiast who was still working her corporate job in Calgary—entertained the idea of opening her own spin studio in Toronto while she was in town on a business trip. Come July she was looking at studio spaces, and by September she’d locked in a lease. “I stayed working in Calgary full-time and flew out every weekend to train staff until the night we opened,” she says. “I moved out here the day we opened.”
Prior to her career switch, Harrish had been working in the oil and gas industry in various roles, from sales representative to field operator, for 15 years. “When I was looking at what lit the fire, spin was the best part of my day,” she shares about her side gig teaching spin classes in Calgary. “It was one of those moments where you realize you’re in a job and career that’s not inspiring, and the thought of doing it for another 20 years didn’t sit well.” Taking the leap was no easy feat and, looking back, Harrish believes that the biggest hurdle was starting all over again in a new city without having a personal or professional network in place. “I came here and was like, ‘I need instructors!’ Well, I don’t know anybody. ‘I’m going to make a post on Instagram!’ I made a post on Instagram and no one responded.” Despite the obstacles, Harrish kept going anyway.
Before the studio officially opened its doors, she trained 6IX Cycle’s instructors in the living room of her Parkdale apartment. “I had 16 bikes and no furniture,” she recalls. “It was basically a spin studio in an apartment building. Some of our instructors took their first class ever in that living room, which is wild to think about now.” Today, the Queen West studio, which she co-owns with her husband, Sheldon Harrish, has 10 classes set to the sounds of everything from R&B and hip hop to Lady Gaga.
The sense of community she built inside her Parkdale apartment has continued on with her studio. “I’ve had people who never knew each other before make friends in the change room and go for Sunday brunch together. Just watching those relationships build—that to me is what community is.”