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This Is What Self-Care Looks Like To Spiked Spin Founder Briana Owens

Briana Owens balances 18-hour workdays with cycling Spiked Spin-style.

Finding Balance

In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.

I don't know about y'all, but when I think of fitness, I definitely don't associate it with fun. For years, it has felt like the reason I won't hit the gym, I won't grab a trainer, and I'll continue to eat delicious food that is no good for my waistline is due, in part, to the fact that exercising feels like a chore.

That's why Briana Owens, the founder of Spiked Spin, a cycling class filled with hip-hop tracks from past and present playing through the classes, is possibly revolutionary. Not only is the atmosphere filled with music eclecticism, but all instructors double as DJs, alternating music based on the mood of the crowd. So yes, you could be getting your cycle on to Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill, Tupac, and countless others.

But when you're a Black woman promoting a healthy lifestyle among the community, how do you juggle others growth while tackling your own (which is ALSO your side hustle and not your 9-5)? In this installment of Finding Balance, we spoke with Briana to find out how she balances hyping up crowds while also hyping up herself.

So we know you're a busy lady! What is an average day like for you?

For me, an average day begins around 6:30 AM and ends around 12AM. I typically wake up early to go to the gym. I try my hardest to get the gym in the morning at least 4 times a week – not even for my body, but for my sanity. The gym is the one part of my day (besides when I am sleeping) that I can focus 100% on my own thoughts and goals.

After the gym, I go to my side hustle, which is in digital advertising. During the day, I work in digital strategy for tech brands. I also use my down time to do any quick housekeeping that needs to take place for Spiked Spin i.e. replying to emails, or handling customer requests. After work, I am fully committed to Spiked Spin, whether I am teaching a class, going to a meeting, updating a deck, having a conference call, etc. I make the evenings really work for me, as that's the time I get the most done for the business! It's cliché, but I really try to use every minute of the day to be productive.

What do you find to be the most hectic part of your week? How do you push through?

Everyday is hectic because right now my corporate job has to take priority. With that in mind, I have to juggle everything else that needs to be done around those hours, and meetings, and schedules that I ultimately have no control over. For me it's hectic, but it's not hard. I acknowledge that I do a lot, but I always feel like I could do more. I don't really get caught up in what I have to do, I focus on just getting it done. For me it's less overwhelming when I don't focus on what has to get done, but instead, I focus on how I'm going to do it – my Google calendar is EVERYTHING to me.

How do you practice self-care?

This may sound weird, or not the typical response, but I always operate in a posture of self-care. From my schedule, to the relationships I allow into my life, when I take a step back, I realize that it is all things that I want in my life. I don't necessarily think of self-care as doing something nice for myself, because I am always nice to myself. I try to think positive thoughts and fill my life with genuineness and love. Everything I do benefits me — my work, my business, my hectic calendar, it's all things that I've chosen and it's me taking care of myself...so I think of everything I do as "self-care." If I think of it in the terms that it's been popularized lately, I would say I love a great manicure, and I love my morning gym routines, and I LOVE talking on the phone to my mom.

"Everything I do benefits me — my work, my business, my hectic calendar, it's all things that I've chosen and it's me taking care of myself...so I think of everything I do as 'self-care.'"

How do you find balance with...

Friends?

With friends, I am open with what I am willing to give, and what I have to give. I feel like friendship is a choice, so I like it to be easy and seamless. Most of my friendships, I've had for years so the relationships are solidified, and with new friends, I lay out who I am upfront. We all understand that we all lead busy lives, however, we ALWAYS make time for each other. The same way that I schedule a meeting for business, I schedule dates, lunches, etc. with my friends.

Love/Relationships?

I've been in a relationship with my boyfriend for seven years, so people assume that we automatically have it all figured out, but we're actually always trying to find what works. His job requires a lot of hours, and so does mine, and it definitely weighs on me sometimes. To maintain balance, we try to talk as much as possible throughout the day, and we always like to reset in the evenings before bed or in the mornings before work! One thing we love to do is vacation! Our vacations are always a great time for us to disconnect and reconnect because the NYC hustle is nonstop! As our goals continue to change, we constantly have to reset and figure what works for us, but the best part is we always keep each other first and remember that we are partners!

Exercise?

One of my personal goals was to workout 4x per week outside of teaching classes because exercise is my personal time to clear my mind and focus on whatever it is that I need to get done. I go to the gym every morning to start my day.

Do you cook or find yourself eating out?

I unfortunately must admit that I eat out 95% of the time. I don't enjoy cooking, especially since it's only me and I don't have a lot of time. I typically find healthy options that I can grab quickly.

Do you ever detox?

I rarely detox but when I do, it's usually from being so connected. Sometimes I'll decide not to check social media, or even emails for a few days.

When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you
handle it?

This happens constantly but I don't allow myself to stay in those feelings. I have a few quotes and scriptures that I like to reference, but I mostly love to talk to God, my mom, and my boyfriend. My mom and Zach know me well, so they keep me level when I feel down, and out of those conversations, I am reminded of my purpose and why I keep going.

What does success mean to you?

Generational impact.

What is something you think others forget when it comes to finding balance?

I think people forget that balance is personal. Everyone's self-care or idea of balance is not the same nor should it be. It's important for people to accept their truths and live fully in the ways that provide them the most balance.

To learn more about Spiked Spin and sign up for a class, check out their website and their Instagram. Follow Bri as she lives her life #TheSpikedWay on her personal Instagram as well.

Featured image by Briana/Instagram.

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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