Indoor cycling is growing in popularity as members seek to replicate the thrill and intensity of a long bike ride, without actually having to hit the pavement. Group cycling classes also give riders a sense of community they won’t find on a solitary machine in their basements.
If executed with the right components, your indoor cycling programs can become a “can’t miss” class for members.
“Offering a convenient schedule and effective, safe programming is crucial, but the ingredient that sets a program apart is the ability to create a unique experience,” said Alicia Whitis, the regional group fitness and Pilates manager at Harbour Island Athletic Club. “A welcoming space, dynamic and charismatic instructors, motivating music and fun lighting all play a part in that experience.”
Creating the right experience starts with understanding the needs of your members, and using the right class structure and intensity to meet those needs.
“I offer a mix of program types to meet the needs of what members experience in the competitive cycling market,” said Aida Johnson-Rapp, the director of exercise programs at East Bank Club. “I have indoor cycling classes that are performance-based, but athletic in nature. We have several large-screen monitors and run zone match classes that can get very competitive.”
By creating an engaging environment, integrating the right equipment and putting your instructors in the best position to thrive, your indoor cycling program will hit top speed.
Creating the right environment will help set the stage for an engaging class. This involves several components, including lighting, music, class size and even equipment spacing.
“Lighting can make a space more inviting and have a positive effect on the intensity of a workout, driving a participant to push harder or take time to recover,” explained Whitis. “It can also create a fun, party-like space that enhances the overall member experience.”
According to Whitis, sound also plays a vital role in the member experience during a cycling class. In fact, she believes members often base their first impressions on what they’re hearing. “Music plays a role in the experience by motivating the participant and driving the energy of the class,” she said.
Just as the lights can help subliminally get members in the right mood, music dictates the tempo and intensity of the workouts — so it’s important to invest in the best sound quality possible.
“We redid our sound system three years ago to create a nightclub-quality sound — we added two subwoofers and carefully placed speakers,” said Johnson-Rapp. “There is a control platform setup right next to the instructor bike with inputs for music players, and a stand to allow them to adjust volume or scroll through music without having to leave the platform.”
Johnson-Rapp also makes it a priority to keep the club’s sound system well-maintained to prevent lapses in sound quality. “We have scheduled preventive maintenance on the sound system so it is always running at peak condition,” she said.
Your members could be looking for an escape just as much as a workout, so the more you are able to distract them from the stressors of daily life, the more they’ll enjoy the ride.
“I have entertainment-based rides that focus on music and rhythm, and a music video class that taps into both entertainment and rhythm,” said Johnson-Rapp. “Members forget how hard they are working when they are having fun.”
You can’t have an indoor cycling class without bikes, and when preparing any group exercise space, it’s imperative to fill it with the equipment best suited for your vision. It needs to help construct the atmosphere you want your classes to have.
“Equipment plays an important role in creating a positive experience for the participant,” said Whitis. And because the right equipment is so important to creating a great experience, there are a few rules she follows when choosing bikes:
Live feedback, such as RPMs and resistance level, is critical in sustaining strong attendance over long periods of time. “Equipment with feedback is very important,” said Johnson-Rapp. “I like metrics because they give participants a chance to see progress from class to class.”
Indoor cycling classes are just like any other group exercise program — they are most effective when members can see tangible progress. Therefore, pick a bike that fits your program’s atmosphere, while giving members the tools to actively measure and reach their goals.
“Bike computers that provide live feedback, as well as Myzone technology that measures heart rate and effort in real time, are in many of our cycling studios,” said Whitis. “They help riders make the most of their workout.”
East Bank Club also made its equipment decision based largely on functionality. “We chose the Schwinn Carbon Blue because of the console, and because the belt technology has been easy to maintain,” said Johnson-Rapp. “Also, setting up a first-time rider only takes a few seconds — the learning curve for the console is so low that within a few minutes the rider can understand how to use the console to measure intensity.”
When making a decision that involves your indoor cycling program — whether it’s on what equipment to buy or your lighting set-up — keep your members’ needs and your program vision in mind. This way, you’ll find out what equipment will drive success in your indoor cycling classes.