During Mike Sather’s third deployment in Afghanistan, he was “run into the ground” by a Special Forces candidate with an exercise routine he had never heard of before. The move required you to put your feet up on a bench and walk planks around it, working your entire body to stay off the ground. It was, in short, extremely difficult.


Mike Sather

So much so that when Sather returned to the U.S., he showed it to his fitness buddy Chad Lorenson who was then doing the famed P90X workouts in preparation for an upcoming Tough Mudder obstacle race. Despite P90x being hailed as one of the most extreme workout programs, Sather’s exercise was a challenge.

“I kicked his butt a little bit,” Sather said, “Those [exercises] were tougher than he thought.”

Not long after, Lorenson, who has an engineering background, asked Sather what he thought about designing a product around the workout.

“At first I thought, why would anyone want to buy anything if they can just put their feet on a bench?” Sather said. “But then we came up with a concept – what if as you spin around it actually increased in height?”

The end result, which they have since patented and turned into a prototype, looks similar to a steering wheel on a stand. Sather describes it like this:

“Instead of having a flat platform with a bar stool, imagine turning that like a steering wheel,” he said. “You put your feet on a steering wheel, with two axis of 360 rotations. You can also turn and do side planks, or turn and do sit ups.”

Using the machine is hard to describe, he said. In fact, when pitching it to customers and other products, he says “it’s like to trying to explain how to have sex by reading it out of a book. But when you engage with it, it’s a world of difference.”

They call the product, and the workout it enables, SpinUps. They’ve already trademarked the name and hope to make it an industry term for the workout routine – one that Sather said some gyms are just beginning to describe with names like “around the world” or “bench planks.”

“We want people to say, ‘I’ve seen that exercise, that’s a spin-up,’” he said. “There’s push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, we need to invent spin-ups. We need to own this exercise.”

In addition to SpinUps core training product, they have also developed a program they call “bootcamp outside the box.” It includes the SpinUps product as well as a weighted sled that can provide resistance in all directions, rather than the typical straight line resistance sled. The entire workout revolves around the idea of “360 fitness,” Sather said, drawing on the training needed for skill position players in football.

It’s not the first time a military veteran has taken what they learned in training and applied it to the fitness world. Tough Mudder obstacle course, for instance, was designed by the British Special Forces.

“A lot of the fitness trends seem to emulate what happens in the military,” Sather said. “You think about boot camps, you hear of bridal bootcamps, bikini boot camps, those are taken from military.”

It’s his background in the military that has also motivated Sather to use their company to draw awareness to a fact that shocked him: on average, 21 veterans and one active duty service member commit suicide every day. A group called #22Kill is working to bring awareness and support to this community, using fitness goals like #22PushUps. Sather said they plan to do similar challenges such as #22SpinUps.

“Hopefully the cause gets way more awareness,” he said.

In addition to those in and out of the military, Sather and Lorenson see potential for SpinUps in a variety of fitness fields, including widely popular programs such as P90x and CrossFit.

Currently they are testing their prototype and raising awareness about the product. Their next step is to launch a Kickstarter, which they plan to do in July, wherein supporters can pre-order their product. Prices will vary between a ballpark of $100 for the SpinUps machine to around $300 for the “bootcamp outside the box” set.

Much of their next steps will be influenced by their 1 Million Cups Fargo talk on Wednesday, June 22, Sather said. He is hoping to hear feedback from the audience there. In fact, it was the community at 1 Million Cups Fargo and throughout Fargo that energized him and Lorenson to push forward with SpinUps, he said.

“We had it on the back burner for a while, but this got us re-motivated. A lot of the revival has to do with Fargo,” he said. “I don’t know a better place we could be doing this.”

Come hear more about SpinUps from Mike Sather on Wednesday, June 21, 2016. Join us at the stage at Island Park at 9:15 AM  – 10:15 AM for the free event (and free coffee!).

Photos courtesy of SpinUps.

Posted in

Marisa Jackels