UND Alumna Spins a Passion Into a Business
A new business rolls into downtown Grand Forks.
In the last few years, the business landscape of downtown Grand Forks has continuously changed and evolved. While Grand Forks has lost some of its city staples like Sanders 1907 restaurant and Dakota Harvest Bakery, property vacancies have led to new business opportunities like Sky’s Fine Dining and Paola’s Pastries.
In addition to new restaurants, bakeries and bars, a boutique business has rolled into downtown Grand Forks that’s putting a spin on traditional fitness.
University of North Dakota College of Business & Public Administration (CoBPA) Department of Marketing and MBA alumna, Sarah Newgard opened The Pedal, a cycling studio, on the corner of Demers Ave. and N. 3rd St. in downtown Grand Forks in 2016.
The Pedal is the only boutique-style, stand-alone spin studio in Grand Forks. Classes are 45 minutes long and all at the same level; each individual can alter the workout to meet their own personal fitness needs.
“I love that it’s your own workout,” said Newgard. “You can modify the tension, you can sit when you want to sit, you can take breaks when you want to take a break.”
Newgard says her classes utilize the whole body and bike; participants do push-ups on the bike and use hand weights and bands. Newgard also plays music and keeps the lights off during class.
“It’s easier for people to get into their groove when it’s dark,” she said. “You can’t see each other very well, so you can really be doing what you can do and push without anybody watching or caring.”
Twenty-three-year-old UND psychology student, Clare Shaw, says she and her mom go to The Pedal about four to five times per week.
“You get such a good workout, it’s such a good sweat. And the energy—Sarah has the best energy. It’s fun, you don’t dread working out. You’re excited to come and you just feel good after, mentally and physically,” said Shaw.
Newgard says she’s always had a passion for fitness. In addition to The Pedal, she owns her own home-based health and wellness business as well as her own personal training business.
“My marketing and MBA degrees from UND have totally been a gift through all of this,” said Newgard. “That education is so valuable. I just have so much to owe to the University. I just love UND!”
After completing her undergraduate degree in marketing, Newgard worked as the director of marketing for UND Athletics. Once she wrapped up her MBA studies, she became director of what is now called the North Dakota Champion’s Club at the UND Alumni Association & Foundation.
“I met so many people, and I still see those people today. I will have those relationships always. Those relationships helped me have a network while starting my own business. They always say those things like ‘UND is different,’ but it is! Even when you’re traveling, you meet alumni all over the U.S. and you could still go and find these people and they would go for coffee,” said Newgard. “The network is amazing.”
That network is also what helped UND senior marketing major/ sports business minor, Hadley Purdy, land an internship at The Pedal.
“I actually met Sarah, and the other owner, Chip, at Lululemon in the Twin Cities. I saw Chips’s hat said East Grand Forks on it and said, ‘oh my gosh, I go to school at UND! Sarah told me she was opening up a spin studio and that she might be hiring an intern so we exchanged information,” said Purdy. “Then I actually ran into them at a UND football game a few months later and Sarah asked me to meet for coffee. It seemed like it was kind of meant to be!”
As Newgard’s intern, Purdy primarily took photos and blasted promos out on The Pedal’s social media pages. Purdy says her past internship experience has also helped her out. “I’ve been able to shoot some videos for Sarah, too, because of all of the experience I gained at Studio One and the UND TV Center,” she said.
Purdy completed the internship with The Pedal for credit through the UND CoBPA Department of Marketing last semester and will be continuing as an intern this summer. She says she’s learned a lot about being an adaptable professional through the experience.
“I think just having an open mind and attitude and just being flexible is the most important,” said Purdy.
Not only do Purdy and Newgard share a passion for fitness, they share a passion for UND.
“I think my favorite thing about UND and the business school are all the opportunities it provides you. UND is a large school but it’s small enough that you can get that one-on-one experience. I’ve been telling family members if I had gone to a larger school, I don’t know that an opportunity like this would have presented itself. UND being a little bit more of an intimate size allows for things like this,” said Purdy.
“It’s that UND connection,” said Newgard. “It’s huge!”