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Cycling Boutiques Reel ‘Em In From The Big Box


shutterstock_173980181At this very moment, members of a full-service gym are strongly considering canceling their membership to try that new indoor cycling studio in town. Why? Because that new boutique studio owner is paying attention to the members’ needs and they are offering a way to fulfill them. It‘s flattering to feel wanted. It feels good to be told that you are “special.”

The boutique studio is picking the low-hanging fruit of bored and disgruntled people who already enjoy indoor cycling. It’s too expensive for them to plant the seeds for people who may someday become interested in indoor cycling. So, why not go after the ripened fruit from the big box gym instead?

While some club operators view cycling as just another fitness class on the schedule, others are leveraging it as an invaluable recruitment and retention tool. These clubs are keeping members from leaving to join specialized cycling studios that offer a premium experience, more focused attention and a stronger sense of community.

Look around cycling classes today and you’ll see a diverse population — e.g., retirees in their 70s getting their social fix, a pregnant mother who wants to feel strong, a teen bonding with his Dad, a 23-year-old who feels guilty for over-indulging the night before, a hard charging “hurt me!” rider —and everyone in between. Today’s cycling classes are for everybody, all ages, all fitness levels, all motivations. This is exactly why clubs need to reframe their perspective of their indoor cycling program.

How can you turn a good cycling program into a great one?

Think Boutique — Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Apply that concept to the indoor cycling room by viewing those classes as if your revenue depended on them. For starters, strengthen your instructor team by offering additional education and ensure what they’re teaching is safe, consistent, motivating and fun. Every instructor should demonstrate knowledge of their participants and be trained to recognize, accommodate, attract and retain an eclectic population. A sense of caring and connectivity should be palpable in class from start to finish.

Appoint A Champion“The coordination of indoor cycling programming is too difficult for the group fitness director to go it alone. This is an important area that needs a dedicated ‘content expert’ for education and reviews to bring to the upper management level,” says Mary Claypool, a physical therapist and lead indoor cycling instructor for over 10 years at Rochester Athletic Club in Minnesota.

Appoint and incentivize a lead cycling instructor to take charge of the class schedule, host auditions, assist with hiring, coordinate education and maintenance programs, weigh in on equipment decisions, oversee social media and develop creative marketing tactics that put the cycling program into the community’s spotlight.

Innovation = Differentiation — Boutique studios tend to be early adopters of cutting-edge equipment, providing them with a huge marketing advantage over their big box competitors that are slower to evolve.

“We looked for the best bike in the world with concrete, marketable statistics to back it up. Marketing is one of our greatest strengths, and critical for any studio that claims to be ‘high-end’ and plans to scale. Our bikes are one of our powerful marketing bullets,” said Rich Downing, the president and master cycle instructor at Turnstyle Cycle in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sell your members on the advantages the equipment offers, why it was carefully chosen and why they should be excited to recruit their friends.

Clean, Care and Repair — Broken bikes, handlebar stems so filthy they won’t budge, or computers requiring calibration, it all sends a roaring, “We don’t care about you” message to your members. Avoid putting members, and instructors, in an embarrassing and complaint-filled situation by establishing a regular-scheduled cleaning, service and maintenance program. Start off on the right foot by selecting durable equipment that can withstand the daily storm the bikes will be weathering.


Jackie Mendes is an ACE-group fitness instructor, NASM-CPT, director of RealRyder® International LLC and RealRyder indoor cycling certified instructor. For more information, call 310.390.1803, email jackie@realryder.com or visit www.realryder.com.


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1 Comment

  1. Ali Bortz February 4, 2015

    Love reading these informative articles.


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