Colleen Kirk (BA ’07) has been spinning her wheels for 10 years now, and she’s perfectly fine with that.
As a communications major at UB, she picked up running to blow off steam. That led to taking, then teaching, group fitness classes on campus. She recalls interviewing for a spinning instructor position after having gone to the class exactly twice. She was a natural, though, and got the job. “UB covered the cost of certification and trained me—we had a really great team.”
At a big university like UB, Kirk, a native of Rochester, N.Y., found that pushing herself physically with like-minded people was a great way to beat stress and make friends. She went on to teach part time at other gyms, but after graduating and starting to work as a copywriter for global toy company Fisher-Price, where she had interned as a senior, she got too busy and stopped teaching classes.
Fast-forward to 2014: Kirk is still at Fisher-Price, which is headquartered in a Buffalo suburb, working on product packaging, global public relations and international communications. She lives in Buffalo with her husband, Spencer Kirk (BS ’13, BA ’06), a financial adviser. She loves her job, and loves living Picksin Buffalo, but feels that something is missing—namely, that sense of social connection she had as a spinning instructor.
So she uses her spare time to open Revolution—an indoor cycling gym with a twist—in downtown Buffalo. Tapping into the energy and sense of connection that spinning classes create, Kirk and her two partners create an unusual business model that includes a public service component.
Earlier this year, the gym launched its “Community Rides”: free, public spinning classes with a volunteer event afterward. Participants sign up to ride for an hour, and then head out together to a service event, which so far has included a stop at the local Ronald McDonald House and a community garden cleanup. There are plans for future events with Habitat for Humanity and Girls on the Run, an organization that pairs running mentors with preteen girls.
“It’s taking your workout high and applying it,” Kirk explains. At the events, she says, “people interact in a new way. They’re high-fiving and hugging.” Kirk firmly believes that exercise shouldn’t be a chore, and now she’s making sure that helping the neighbors is just another extension of a good day’s workout.
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