Although fitness trainer Megan Roup calls New York City home, The Sculpt Society® founder has been everywhere lately — including your social media feed. Praised (and posted) by fashion influencers, supermodels, and celebrities alike, Roup’s dance cardio sculpting workout has become a cult favorite, taught in private classes, pop-ups across the U.S. and in Europe, and at Equinox® gyms. On any given day, household names like Hunter McGrady, Shay Mitchell, Arielle Charnas, and Elsa Hosk are signing up and showing up.
Given Roup’s popularity, it might seem like she’s risen to the top overnight — but the 30-something has been in the business for more than a minute. Roup started dancing when she was 7 years old. She made the dance team in high school, studied dance in college at New York University®, and even danced for an NBA team. After teaching group fitness for nine years, Roup started The Sculpt Society nearly three years ago — and she’s technically still dancing (sometimes in 12 classes a week)!
“For so long, boutique fitness felt very intimidating and scary — it was all about being super thin,” said the California native. “The ethos of what I want to get across in my class, and online, is a place for women to find their own inner strength in their own bodies.”
When classes are full, now women — and men, too — can become stronger and build confidence with The Sculpt Society in their own homes and on their own time. The session begins with a cardio warm up, including dance steps, jumping jacks, and grapevines. The sculpt portion, involving one-pound ankle weights, sliders, and small hand weights follows. Participants use their body weight as well to tone and sculpt their legs, arms, and core. The class concludes with another cardio burst, leaving attendees sweaty and feeling svelte (and pleasantly sore the next day). In November, Roup launched The Sculpt Society app, which features a library of five- to 50-minute workouts, videos targeting specific body parts, and a four-week results program for dancers and non-dancers of any fitness level.
With so many (literal) moving parts, we had to know how much this entrepreneur sleeps, what she does for self-care, and the lucky individuals who test-drove her method before she was selling out classes and training the stars.
Spotlyte: You’ve been dancing since you were 7 years old — tell us about that.
Megan Roup: I was born in California and moved around a lot — Idaho, Cape Town, Santa Barbara. My parents moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and there was this little dance studio run by a woman named Ceci Klein, who is a classically trained professional ballet dancer. By the time I got to high school in Santa Barbara, we had a really great dance team, and I was really excited to try something other than ballet. It was my first taste of another modality, which was more jazz and hip-hop.
Spotlyte: You decided to study dance at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts℠, too.
MR: In college, NYU's® program was a bit more modern with a little bit of ballet — all things outside of my comfort zone. It really pushed me to learn different modalities, which professionally served me well because I [was able to] dabble. I ended up dancing with the NBA, which was hip-hop.
Spotlyte: What was it like dancing for the Brooklyn Nets®?
MR: I was there for the first two seasons that they were at the Barclays Center®, which was really an exciting time just because they were moving from New Jersey. There was a lot of energy around it. Everyone was very excited to be there, including myself. It was really fun to be a part of.
Spotlyte: What other dance productions were you involved in over the years?
MR: They were all very small. It was through a modern dance company called James Martin DanceTM. I danced for a production called Le Grand Cirque in Florida, and a children's musical in New York.
Spotlyte: When did you first become interested in fitness?
MR: As a dancer, I have always been active, but it wasn’t until my first year of college that I started to workout outside of dance. At first, I hated it! I hated being in a gym, mindlessly wandering from one machine to the next, spending time on a treadmill with the purpose burning calories, not to actually feel good. But group fitness changed my entire perspective.
Spotlyte: What inspired you to start The Sculpt Society?
MR: I went through a time in my early twenties feeling uncomfortable in my own body, which is something I think a lot of women can relate to. I fell in love with dance-based fitness, the connections and impact I was having on other women and the community around it. I wanted to create The Sculpt Society for women to feel empowered through movement, to feel strong in their bodies and to create a space for them to feel comfortable.
Spotlyte: Do you still travel a ton for work?
MR: I do pop-ups around the country. Last year, I was in Chicago, Alabama, Atlanta, London, Dublin, and all over Texas: Austin, Houston, Dallas. Most of it is self-organized. As I grow the community with The Sculpt Society, it’s important to me to be able to have those touchpoints with people. I've found so much value in being able to take time with people outside of New York City.
Spotlyte: How do you stay healthy when you're traveling and on the road?
MR: Staying healthy while you’re traveling is tough. I try and plan as much as I can; I bring a salad to the airport, and I try and drink one liter of water on the flight. I also research the city I am going to, so that when I get there, I have some healthy spots to go to. The more I can prepare, the better.
Spotlyte: What are your favorite healthy spots in NYC?
Spotlyte: Aside from dancing on-court or onstage, do you wear makeup when you workout?
MR: I do. I think there's a little bit of a performance element to the class. You know, you're in front of a group of women, you want to feel your best. I'll go to Duane Reade® and get my Maybelline® Fit MeTM Concealer that I love. I also use Laura Mercier® Tinted Moisturizer, GlamSquad® Morning GlowTM Radiant Face Primer, tarte® Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof Bronzer, MAC® blush, Maybelline Great-Lash® Clear Mascara (for brows), COVERGIRL® Lash Blast® Active Mascara, Fresh® Sugar Lip Balm, and COOLA® Organic Makeup Setting Spray.
Spotlyte: What skincare and hygiene products are part of your regimen?
MR: Naturopathica® Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm, Drunk Elephant® Virgin Marula Antioxidant Face Oil, Weleda® original ultra rich cream, Origins Ginzing® Refreshing Eye Cream, Supergoop! SPF, Megababe® Deodorant, and Jo Malone® Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne.
Spotlyte: What do you consider your big break?
MR: My classes were doing well, but I started working with Arielle Charnas when she was pregnant with her second child. It's been a year and a half, maybe a little bit closer to two years. That was definitely a big moment just on social media. She is such a unicorn, and people love her — including myself. I feel like she's the Kardashian of Instagram. Wherever I go, I always ask people how they found me, and Arielle is definitely a top person that they reference.
My other big break was when I was working with a lot of the Victoria's Secret® models last year for the show. I worked with so many of them, and specifically with Elsa Hosk, who's still a close client and friend of mine. She wore the Fantasy BraTM, and there was a lot of excitement around that show.
Spotlyte: How did Arielle Charnas and the Victoria’s Secret models find you?
MR: It was all word of mouth. Their friends in the class were referring me to them, which is always so flattering. That was really powerful.
Spotlyte: Of your celebrity clients, are there any who are specifically inspiring to you?
MR: I get to work with a lot of boss ladies who are all hustling and working hard. In general, that's really motivating.
Arielle's been such a support and also a guide. She's always pushing me to post more and do all the things that are required to really build a brand. I don't have kids yet, and I think she balances kids, and her brand, and her marriage. That's really inspiring to me.
Spotlyte: When you first started teaching The Sculpt Society, what were those first days like?
MR: The first couple of months, I had two or three people in my classes. I really worked to grow the community, but I was also very confident in what I was delivering. I knew that if I had those two or three people in my class — and I delivered at the level that I wanted to, and made sure that they had the best time possible — that they were going to come back and they were going to tell their friends. Word of mouth is really, really strong. In about six months, I was starting to sell out classes.
I think people see things on social media, and they assume it was just an immediate hit or it was just an overnight success — and it definitely wasn't.
Spotlyte: Where did you find space to teach in those first few months?
MR: I got a little lucky because, at the time, there was Studio B BandierTM, and the Project by Equinox® had just opened. Both are incubator spaces, and I was able to start teaching at both studios, which really gave me a platform and a home.
Spotlyte: Many entrepreneurs work on side projects until their business takes off. What were your other gigs?
MR: I'm the queen of a side-hustle. I taught at another studio for six and a half years.
When I first started teaching group fitness, I was dancing professionally. I knew I needed to pay really expensive New York City rent, and I started fit modeling, randomly. A fit model is a live mannequin for designers in New York City. [The gig] was a blessing because it had flexible hours and gave me the financial stability to go out, audition for dance work, and still teach fitness. I continued to fit model for eight or nine years. I was side-hustling until March of this past year!
Spotlyte: When you first designed The Sculpt Society, who were your guinea pigs?
MR: My poor fiancé, Morgan Humphrey, went through various stages of what The Sculpt Society looked like, which I really appreciate. We’ve been together for a little over five years.
I also have a really good girlfriend who had a gym in her building, and I probably gave her three or four goes at what I thought the class should look like. She gave me some feedback.
Spotlyte: How many people teach at The Sculpt Society these days?
MR: There are about 16. I have my Equinox trainers, and then I have trainers teaching The Sculpt Society at an outside studio location.
Spotlyte: Do you think you will open your own studio?
MR: Brick and mortar is a little scary in New York City. For me, the next 12 months are really concentrating on digital and spreading the word about The Sculpt Society on the app, and building that online community.
Spotlyte: Do you workout in addition to teaching class?
MR: I typically do about 90 percent of the class with my clients, so it's 100 percent my workout. I'll do the occasional yoga or reformer Pilates class, but from an energy standpoint and the amount I teach — my classes and private clients — I usually just stick to that. I'm already over-training.
Spotlyte: How many classes do you teach every week?
MR: 10 to 12. I have six classes that I teach at studios. And it really depends on the private clients that I'm working with. This past week I had 12 classes. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it's physical and it's emotional. I'm pretty beat by that.
Spotlyte: What do you do for self-care?
MR: I actually had a massage today. I go to this place Zu Yuan Spa℠ in Chinatown for $40. I go once a week, and that's been a saving grace.
I have this acupuncturist. She's called @theacuchick on Instagram. I'll go and see her if things flare up or if I just need to take some me-time.
Sleep is super, super important to me Monday through Sunday. I ideally will get eight to nine hours every night — and sometimes I feel like I could nap in the day. I’ll also hit DTX® for the infrared sauna, drink water, meditate, and read.
Spotlyte: What’s next for you and The Sculpt Society?
MR: I would love to do a capsule collection or dip my toes into some nutrition stuff.
Spotlyte: Do you have a mantra to keep yourself going?
MR: On the days that are a little bit hectic, it's just reminding myself that I'm doing the best I can and that's really all I can do. As someone who's an introvert and often trying not to be in front of people, and running a business, I've had to do a lot of work on the internal conversations, talking myself up a little bit to build that confidence.
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