When the indoor-cycling startup Flywheel Sports asked Sarah Robb O’Hagan to be its new CEO in 2016, she didn’t have to think long about her answer. “I was like, ‘Absolutely not,’ ” recalls the executive, who had left her job as president of exercise chain Equinox (parent company of Flywheel competitor SoulCycle) earlier that year. At the time, she was writing her first book, and she wasn’t eager to return to the C-suite. But as Flywheel continued to pursue her, Robb O’Hagan grew more impressed with the brand’s focus on fitness, technology, and personal growth. Finally, she took the job.
Almost six months later, the New Zealand native is steering Flywheel in new directions. This fall, the company is moving into Peloton’s territory and launching its own line of stationary bikes, which come with tablet devices that let riders stream classes at home and compete against other riders’ stats. “You’re part of this global community of avid Flywheelers, and wherever you are, you can participate,” says Robb O’Hagan, who is also planning to open 5 to 10 new locations annually over the next few years (Flywheel currently has 42 studios around the country).
Robb O’Hagan did finish her book, Extreme You, which HarperCollins published in April. Featuring interviews with Angela Ahrendts, Condoleezza Rice, and others, it urges readers to embrace their faults. “Our culture celebrates everyone for their accomplishments,” she says. “But when we don’t show the struggles, the fails, and the years of self-doubt, we make it impossible for the next generation to believe they can get there.”
Best Recent Tech Development
“I’m a swimmer, so I love the Apple Watch Series 2. It’s so cool when you finish swimming and it sponges the water out.”
Worst Tech Development
“There are so many ‘fitness trackers’ that are really just accelerometers and sleep monitors—they’re not bringing anything new to consumers.”
Advice She’d Give Her Younger Self
“Relax a bit! Everything that happens in your career will add up, so don’t stress so much on the journey.”
Source Of Inspiration
“Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. It’s an extraordinary story of humanity and resilience, and it gives you a giant dose of perspective.”
How She Stays Productive
“Morning workouts let me clear my head, get alone time, and think about what I want to accomplish that day.”