Kenzie Todd left behind her Olympic dreams in Calgary, Alberta, with the knowledge she would grow her own business one day — even if she wasn’t quite sure where that journey would take her. Cut to a few years later, and she’s the owner of one of the most beloved spin studios in Nashville, delivering a soulful fitness culture with a strong sense of community right in the heart of 12South. If you’ve ever been to Full Ride Cycling, you know it’s an experience for the mind, body, and spirit, and that’s all thanks to the woman behind it. Please welcome this week’s FACE of Nashville, Full Ride Cycling’s Founder and CEO Kenzie Todd.
Let’s jump right into cycling. What drew you to it?
Long story short, I used to be a downhill ski racer, and that’s kind of what got me into cycling. I blew my knees out three different times, so I took the route to California instead of having a career in athletics and trying to do the whole Olympic dream (which was something that my dad did and something that I wanted to do). I went to school at the beach, which was wonderful and a little bit unrealistic for someone at 19, but I went to Pepperdine, and I studied business. I come from a very entrepreneurial family, and I always envisioned starting my own business one day. I wasn’t sure what avenue [to pursue], so I got into music and worked on the financial side. I traveled to Nashville from LA for work quite often and fell in love with this city. Actually, even before I came here, I felt God was calling me to Nashville. After a few years of working in the music industry, I quit my job, left everything I knew, and moved back to Nashville. That was in 2015.
I was drawn to the experience of cycling — it was the emotional, mental, and spiritual components of what it does, not just the kind of cycling with metrics that you can get at your local gym. The entire experience enthralled me, and I actually started riding at SoulCycle when I lived in LA. Of course, it’s very expensive, so I went very sparingly, whenever I could afford it. It was the whole feeling of being a previous athlete and having that athletic mindset again. It’s how they incorporate the lights and candles and the fact that the instructors are incredibly motivational. It really allowed me to get out of my head, get into my body, and figure out exactly how I was feeling and where I was. It’s also a very low-impact workout. After three knee surgeries before I was 22, I was in pain all the time. The fact that I could cycle and not feel pain was what got me in the door. What kept me there was that it’s so much more than just a workout — it’s a total movement.
What led you to open Full Ride Cycling?
Leadership is something I’m really passionate about, and I geek out on podcasts and books on it. I really felt I could build a healthy culture. I’m a big believer that you spend the majority of your time with the people you work with. Especially with fitness, clients can smell a really toxic culture from a mile away. If it’s not inclusive and inviting, you can be the best instructor in the world, and people aren’t going to come back to that. So, what drew me to open up my own business was first, my entrepreneurial spirit and wanting to be my own boss, but secondly, to create an environment in which people actually enjoy working.
What experience can clients expect?
Nashville is such a melting pot. So many people are moving here from Chicago, Charlotte, New York, LA … and they don’t have a community here. It’s really hard to build community when you’re an adult, and you’re working all the time, and you don’t really want to go to bars to meet people. You can expect to come to Full Ride and have an amazing workout, but then you also might meet your best friend. We have a really inclusive gang of people that do life together.
What is your advice for someone who may never have tried cycling and needs a bit of motivation?
Come in with a friend! I know fitness can be really intimidating. I run a fitness studio, and I still feel a little bit intimidated when I go into a new studio. That’s normal, especially when it comes to working out because you’re not sure what it will look or feel like. So, if you need extra motivation, I always say get a friend because then you’re not going to cancel, or you’ll be putting your friend out. When I want to try a new workout, I grab a friend and say, “Hold me accountable. I want to go at this time on this day.” That will get you in the door, and then you’ll also feel more comfortable.
Obviously, fitness is a big part of your daily life, but what else do you do for peace of mind?
I go hiking every week at Percy Warner. I take my dog and my AirPods, and I put on some good music or a podcast, and I kind of check out. I leave my phone on silent so nobody can bother me, and I do it on the same day at pretty much the same time every week. It grounds me and gives me peace of mind. Especially in the hustle-bustle of running a business, it’s one of my favorite things to do.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The most recent piece of advice that hit me was actually when I was talking to my therapist. I told her that I’m really struggling to balance being hopeful while being really scared — scared of disappointment. She said, “Would you rather live a life of high highs and low lows, or would you rather play it safe?” I got chills all over my body. I would way rather have a life of the high highs and low lows rather than not risking anything at all, whether that’s in business, or my love life, or my friendships, or whatever. That piece of advice is really driving where I am right now in my life, both professionally and personally.
Outside of faith, family, and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
I cannot live without almond milk lattes. I have one every morning! And then my therapist; I’m so thankful for her. Thirdly, the outdoors.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Kenzie!
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