From cinematic fitness, to data and game-changing technology, we look at the exciting group cycle trends that could reinvent the wheel for your club’s studio.
Frequently named in industry reports as the most popular group exercise class category, group cycling has enjoyed major growth in recent times, fuelled by advances in technology and a raft of new concepts.
It’s also proved a hit with club operators thanks to its high yield per square foot and ability to attract a wide range of members as a low impact workout with a wide range of formats, so where is it headed next?
With the category tipped for further growth, we caught up with Paddy Murray – VP of International Sales & Marketing at indoor cycling specialists Stages Cycling – to find out which trends will be shaping the cycle studio and how clubs can stay ahead of them.
How do indoor cycling offerings and preferences vary across global markets?
It’s hard to pigeon hole as the standards and offerings vary enormously, but in general the key factor in the international markets are how mature the industry is in that particular country and how well educated the instructor base is. The Asian market for example is relatively new and getting good instructors is a challenge, but the investment levels are high and the standards rising very quickly. The more mature markets such as the US and in Europe are also raising the bar and moving towards higher quality experiences as indoor cycling is enjoying a big resurgence and outdoor cycling participation is also growing rapidly. Cycling in general is providing a great healthy hub for social interactions, low impact workouts and relatively low cost to participate in.
What trends are you particularly excited about at the moment?
The boutique cycle-only studios have really transformed the market in the US but this is being mirrored across the globe in major cities and is really raising the standards across the industry. The big shifts we see are the adoption of group display and the use of personal performance data and tracking, the shift towards virtual classes to increase utilization during downtimes and also to provide a gateway for live classes. There’s also a big focus on enhancing the class environment with dynamic lighting, great video visuals, nightclub-quality sound systems and even the use of dedicated cycling shoes to enhance the experience.
We think the next big evolution in indoor cycling will be bringing the group experience to the cardio or gym floor, where the casual member can get whatever type of experience they want, suited to their schedule, with detailed performance feedback on their workouts. The world is shifting to performance tracking and the consumer market is flooded with wearables. Companies like Stages are now able to provide club members with performance tracking that used to be only available to the likes of Team Sky.
Tell us about your new collaboration with Les Mills.
We are really excited about working with Les Mills and becoming the official bike partner of RPM, THE TRIP and Sprint. The undoubted global leader in group exercise, no other company in the industry puts as much into research and develops solutions using its own clubs as testing grounds. The group exercise experience lives and dies based on the quality of its instructors. Les Mills not only develops great programs but also understands how to upskill the instructor base to deliver that experience to the member.
We think we’ll be able to combine Stages Cycling bike knowledge and data capture expertise to enhance the Les Mills experience going forward. Together we’re now going to bring this joint expertise together to deliver a new personalised virtual experience that can be accessed on the gym floor. Les Mills develop amazing content and we’ve developed a new bike and platform to deliver that experience to the gym goer. This is going to be a real game-changer for the industry and it’s called the “Les Mills Virtual bike.”
What makes the Virtual Bike so significant?
Most gyms have a dedicated section for their cardio equipment and traditional upright bikes haven’t changed in 25 years apart from adding a TV. The riding position is terrible, the Q Factor makes you ride the bike like a horse and most people just use it to warm up or cool down on. The bike can be so much more dynamic than that and it’s low impact nature and ease of use mean it’s the perfect candidate for high use cardio.
We believe we have delivered a bike that will offer industry-leading performance feedback combined with the best motivational content delivered by Les Mills. Sprint, RPM and THE TRIP will all be available, bringing cinematic fitness to the gym floor for the very first time. The added benefit of the Virtual Bike is that it will act as a gateway to increasing group cycling participation and this will be great for member retention.