Category Archives: Outdoor riding

Cycling Instructor conference: ICI/Pro — great energy, great event

Wow, I just spent 2 and a half days at the ICI/Pro conference put on by John Macgowan, Jennifer Sage, Barbara Hoots, Gene Nacey,  Tom Scotto,  and the other good folks working with  Indoor Cycle  Great energy,  great event!  I met instructors and studio owners from all over the world:  LA, Toronto, Sweden, Montreal, Texas, Tennessee, New York, Canary Islands, Boston, San Francisco, Georgia, Ann Arbor and more.  Lot’s of styles, lots of  networking, lots of great ideas flowing from one instructor to another.   Several folks were interested in our presentation:  start your own indoor cycling or spinning studio.   I had too many take-aways to name….but here are 3:

1) Keiser (an event sponsor) provided very cool bikes that have a console measuring heart rate, cadence and watt output.  Suuntu (another sponsor) had a cool technology that projects your heartrate data on a screen in front of the class — the whole subject of metrics was abuzz at the conference.  Clearly it is a wave starting to make an impact on indoor cycling.

2) Metrics, power measurement and other technologies are making it easier to attract outdoor cyclists.  In order to thrive, indoor cycling studios and programs need offerings that attract both the fitness, the weight control and the outdoor cycling communities.

3) Endorphins?  Passion?  Some combination?  I don’t know, but the energy level at this event was huge.  I had conversations in the halls about every conceivable topic:  the importance of music, the merits of different bikes, combining indoor cycling with other workouts, using social media….and a lot lot more.

The net net —- noted by Jennifer Sage in one the sessions, is that educating yourself and mingling with like-minded zealots, is a critical part of keeping yourself fresh, motivated, valuable and inspiring to your students.

Kudos to Indoor Cycle Instructor for creating a great event!


Indoor cycling and SPIN® instructors….studio lifeblood

Early this year, we conducted a survey of over 500 active customers of the Spynergy cycling studio in Wellesley, Mass.  This was a tremendously interesting look at the demographics, activities, attitudes and preferences of our customers: spinners and indoor cyclists.  Among some of the interesting findings:  less than 30% of  studio visitors are regular outside cyclists….WOW.  Some studio owners might find this surprising, but the reality is that the hard core outdoor cyclists are often……you guessed it, outdoors.  To build a critical mass of customers to a studio like this, you need to attract outside cyclists AND others seeking a great workout for cardio fitness and/or weight control.

Revelation #2.  When asked what was the single most important factor in keeping them coming back for more classes?  The number one factor was not the quality of the bikes, it was not the studio, it was not the parking, it was not the pricing model —– all these were important, but the number one most important reason people return to an indoor cycling class is….THE INSTRUCTORS.

When you think about it, and when you think about your own class enjoyment, you know this to be true.  If you own or operate a fitness studio, cycling studio, personal training center or any group exercise that is instructor-led, it is absolutely critical — from a customer retention standpoint that you have well defined practices for a) recruiting teachers, b) training teachers, c) evaluating teachers and d) replacing teachers.  This is not an HR issue, nor an operations issue, this is a marketing issue as teachers are the single most important factor in retaining customers.  In a future post, we will address training, evaluation and recruitment.

Note:  one of the best resource for indoor cycling instructors to get ideas is a website called Indoor Cycle Instructor the good ones go there to become better.

Riding indoors vs. riding outdoors

We ride outside, we ride inside…..we love both.

Yes, we run an indoor studio, but we love the idea of cycling of all kinds. The benefits of indoor and outdoor riding are awesome in so many ways!

About 25% of Spynergy riders are also serious about their outdoor riding. They do both inside and outside riding. The vast majority of our spinners do NOT ride outside….ever.

Riding inside and outside are different………and the same.

The same because they are both rhythmic, low impact, cardio exercise. While fundamentally solitary endeavours, indoor and outdoor cycling are often done in groups and can be social. Both workouts can be intense….but both can be moderated. Both are exercise that experts agree is ideal for a range of health and fitness related goals.

How do they differ? Other than the obvious (you don’t need a helmet indoors, the sun shines outdoors), there are differences that make the workouts somewhat distinct. One is time spent. Spin classes are an “in and out” workout. In less than an hour, you can burn huge energy. With time pressures everywhere, the “exercise value per minute” is extremely high in a spin class. With outdoor cycling, equipment, preparation and clean up issues add significantly to the average ride — but you get scenery!

Outdoor rides tend to be a more varied mix of endurance and interval training, indoor rides focus more on intervals. Intervals (intermittent periods of high exertion) tend to be longer outside, leading to a very different feel and experience.

In either workout, you can work hard….or not. In both workouts the presence of other riders around you tends to motivate. Indoors, the music keeps you alert, outdoors it’s the presence of cars.

Spinning is great aerobic training for outside riding. Some outdoor cyclists complain that the cadence and saddle positions in spin class do not simulate outside riding —- but even the most ardent admit that there is tremendous heart rate work in a good spin class, not to mention the toning of key muscle groups.

Spinners who don’t ride outside usually cite traffic and safety concerns, or sometimes technophobia about all the “stuff”. These are legitimate reasons not to ride —- but if you’re a spinner, you would actually be pretty good at it, and even periodic outside riding is great cross-training for your spinning!

What’s the bottom line? Both are great exercise depending on your preference, your available time, and your mood! If you’re an inside rider looking to explore outside (or vice versa) —- feel free to email us with any questions. We love both.