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Health Club Management
2013 issue 8

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Leisure Management - Pedal power

Indoor cycling

Pedal power

From microgyms to new technology and new formats, indoor cycling is booming. Levze Kerey asks the experts for their tips on how gyms can capitalise on this trend

Levze Kerey
Pedal power

Indoor cycling has been a staple offering on gym class timetables for years, picking up legions of dedicated fans who become incredibly passionate and loyal to their chosen class. Now indoor cycling is on the rise again, enjoying a renewed interest thanks to factors such as the growing visibility of elite cycling – the Olympics and the Tour de France – exciting new formats of club and programming, and an influx of innovation in technology.

It’s time to take a fresh look at how the many indoor cycling options might be used to bring a buzz to fitness facilities. So how can operators capitalise on this renewed public interest?



Merrill Richmond
Merrill Richmond VP of sales and marketing Schwinn

Indoor group cycling can be a strong tool to attract and retain members: done well it’s very inclusive, opening the door for clubs to market their offering to new audiences.

However, many clubs risk alienating potential group cycling participants through their approach to these classes, with every session labelled as advanced on the timetable and instructors roaring on the very fit, regular participants to push themselves harder and harder. That’s not going to appeal to someone who last rode a bike 20 years ago, but who might have been inspired by their Olympic heroes to get pedalling again.

The opportunity is there to create a mixed timetable of classes welcoming beginners, teenagers/millennials, the fit and the fat, the ever-growing over-60s market. Offer riders the chance to experience a team pursuit, a recovery class, a Classical vs Dance tunes special or the joys of climbing Alpe d’Huez. It’s about making people’s regular trips to the gym more exciting and inclusive, and all achievable within their own personal limits/goals.

Variety in the timetable is one of the reasons why indoor cycling microgyms are being so successful; they have also packaged their offering well and have a story to tell around their concept.

Then there are the basics which, while obvious, sometimes seem the hardest to achieve: invest in fabulous coaches and their further education; invest in reliable bikes, ideally with consoles to improve the experience; and invest in an extraordinary sound system, as great music is still a huge source of motivation, especially if the soundtrack is geared to the target audience of each distinct class.


Invest in great coaches, bikes and AV systems



Richard Baker
Richard Baker Commercial Sales Manager WattBike

 There has to be a credible link between the indoor and outdoor cycling experience for gyms to take advantage of the surge in interest in cycling. Many outdoor recreational riders won’t enter a gym due to the poor experience of riding an indoor bike. We’ve focused on providing the authentic feel of riding a real bike, which gives gyms a unique opportunity to market to the burgeoning cycling sector.

To attract the cycling community, indoor cycling must also offer something of value other than just sweat. Cyclists like data, so being able to see the important numbers such as power, heart rate and cadence is a fantastic way to attract, motivate and retain members.

Gyms with Wattbikes can now perform fitness assessments, set structured training plan for both groups and individuals, and provide real-time pedal technique analysis – an unrivalled level of scientific accuracy on the gym floor. There’s never been a greater opportunity for the health and fitness industry to grasp what is the fastest growing sport in the UK.


Gyms with Wattbikes can offer riders fitness assessments



Greg Allon
Greg Allon Co-Founder Cyclebeat

As consumers become more sophisticated, they’re less inclined to accept a ‘one size fits all’ approach to their exercise. If they take their indoor cycling seriously, as many do, they want a venue that takes it equally seriously, with the facilities and instructors to prove it.

Also, many consumers are no longer prepared to pay for facilities they don’t use; if they mainly go to a gym for cycling, they’re increasingly willing to go somewhere where high quality cycling will be the only thing they’re paying for. Boutique cycling studios like Cyclebeat, which are already big business in the US, are set to establish themselves in the UK, with game-changing studios and flexible payment models.

It’s unlikely that non-specialist gyms will be able to cultivate the growing popularity of cycling to the same extent that boutique studios can. However, in order to develop this part of their business, gyms need to create a richer experience for their riders through the use of emerging technology, by bringing in staff who understand the needs of cyclists, and by designing an outstanding indoor cycling environment.


Boutique cycling studios are big in the US, and are set to grow in the UK

H2 Bike Run


Piers Slater
Piers Slater
Co-Founder H2 Bike Run

The key to capitalising on the renewed interest in cycling, getting more people through the doors, is to promote the benefits of indoor cycling to outdoor cyclists. At our clubs, we often attract outdoor cyclists into the gym with the promise that they can keep their fitness up in poor weather and enhance their outdoor performance.

We tap into the commuter market, offering them a safe storage space for their bikes and somewhere for them to change and store their clothes, while also giving them the option of a great indoor cycling workout. People often ride a bike every day just to get from A to B; at H2 Bike Run, we give them the best of both worlds.

We use MYZONE heart rate monitoring to demonstrate that classes aren’t just about maxing out heart rate in a class but about building endurance, which will translate to road cycling. It’s also important to offer a variety of classes, so you appeal to total beginners as well as seasoned triathletes who want a workout that’s as challenging as the ride they do outside.


H2 Bike Run: Promoting the benefits of indoor cycling to outdoor cyclists



Duncan Lawson
Duncan Lawson
MD Webracing

Indoor cycling will always be popular, but gyms can invest in audiovisual technology to push classes into the 21st century, keep members motivated and get riders coming back for more.

Webracing Peloton, for example, gives each rider their own on-screen avatar to follow during the class. The system can be used with any brand of bike, with all bikes in the studio linked wirelessly. Riders then race each other, or in teams, on the same virtual track – be that a velodrome or on the moon. The end of session data then allows everyone to see their individual results.

The software will soon allow riders in different clubs to race live on-screen, use power pedals to measure the rider’s power, and include resistance that links with the visuals – for example, when riders see a hill, they will feel a hill.

Investing in this sort of technology will increase motivation and maintain indoor cycling’s popularity. Allowing members to use the equipment outside of timetabled hours will also maximise use of the studio and feed newcomers into classes in a non-pressurised way.


Software will soon allow riders in different clubs to race live on-screen

Les Mills


Glen Ostergaard
Glen Ostergaard Programme Director Les Mills

The way to maintain indoor cycling’s relevance and popularity with gym members is to develop programmes that follow trends in the fitness industry.

For example, the latest research shows that for fat loss, sprints or intervals are the best option, helping to lose body fat and increase performance. This ties in well with the current interest in HIT (high-intensity interval training), with people gravitating towards shorter, sharper workouts that get quick results. Our RPM™ programme has been using this method for years, but now that more people are aware of the benefits of HIT, the class is booming.

It’s also about great music, simple choreography, coaching techniques that emphasise ‘pack mentality’ and riding imagery to immerse riders in the experience.


Indoor cycling needs to follow current fitness trends, like HIT

Star Trac


Sarah Morelli
Sarah Morelli European Education & Development Manager

Spinning® will always be a popular class for gym members, but it isn’t only gyms that can benefit from the growing popularity of cycling, as the rise in standalone cycling studios proves.

Standalone studios don’t need to be large, or even a permanent fixture. Beatbike – a pop-up Spinning studio that launched in St Albans, UK, last year – is a great example. The founders rented space from their local cricket club, so buying the bikes was the only major investment. It has gone from strength to strength, organically building a robust client base in just 12 months.

For gyms, now is the time to invest in new technology and training to keep classes fresh. For example, our new SPINPOWER™ programme – launched alongside the new Spinner Blade ION, which includes mechanical strain gauge technology – offers a comprehensive guide into the benefits of power-based training. Understanding what power is, and how it’s measured, will help instructors deliver effective, science-based classes. Knowledge is power, and power is the science of performance.

"It’s all about great music, simple choreography, coaching techniques that emphasise ‘pack mentality’ and riding imagery"



Tim Colston
Tim Colston UK MD Keiser

Group cycling has always been popular because it appeals to all ages and abilities. Versatility is vital in ensuring this broad appeal going forward.

Microgyms are the new kids on the block, harnessing the popularity of group cycling and enhancing their classes by using the latest technology. The ambience of a class has a huge effect on the participant’s exercise experience, and some microgyms have used a stadium-style layout and immense sound systems to offer an experience that’s hard to beat.

But whatever the type or size of facility, instructor education is key to providing effective and exciting classes for all levels of ability. This, combined with technological innovation and quality engineered equipment, ensures that group cycling will continue to inspire.

Originally published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 8

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