Mix & Match

Cycling fusion classes can be a great way to add ‘bang to your buck’, creating workouts that keep bodies and minds guessing and members engaged. We talk to those successfully offering exactly this style of class.

When Barry’s, famous for its bootcamp classes, launched two Barry’s Ride cycling studio pop-ups earlier this year, it sent ripples across the sector.

With Peloton and other home bikes commanding more and more interest, some had felt the future of the indoor cycling sector might find itself squarely in the at-home space. But the arrival of Barry’s into the studio cycling market? That flew in the face of such assumptions and caused a frisson of excitement.

“I tried Barry’s Ride and it’s like if your favourite cycling class and HIIT class got married,” enthused one NYC-based fitness editor.

Cycling isn’t dead. Innovate and it could bring a new appeal to studio classes

Barry’s had successfully brought its tried and tested formula – cardio + ‘body part of the day’ resistance – to the world of cycling, with 25-30 minutes on the bike followed by 25-30 minutes’ floor workout, all wrapped up in the brand’s inimitable style.

“Cycling certainly isn’t dead. It’s increasingly happening at home rather than in-studio, but innovate and it could bring a new appeal to studio classes,” observed Jon Canarick, MD of North Castle Partners – investor in both Barry’s and Peloton rival Echelon – at the time of the launch.

It’s an understatement to say that much has happened in the months since those NYC and LA pop-ups. However, what’s also true is that the appeal of studio classes remains, even in this post-COVID era.

Studio capacity may be limited for the time being. Nervous exercisers may be sticking with at-home exercise for now. But demand for the live GX experience is very much there; speaking to numerous operators around the world, it is group classes specifically that are causing the headaches when it comes to demand vs currently-possible supply.

All of which is good news for the indoor cycling sector, and a reason to keep innovating. We take a look at just a few of the many other great examples of fusion classes on offer around the world.

FIRE Fitness – Malaysia

“To create a powerful boutique experience, you have to offer something unique, something clients won’t be able to find anywhere else. With this in mind, 80 per cent of our signature classes are fusion: STRIDE (treadmill running + weight training and bodyweight movement); STRIKE (boxing + weight training and bodyweight movement); RIDE YOGA; RIDE HIIT; and FIRE BARRE (ballet-inspired class with HIIT exercises). Then there’s FORCE, which focuses purely on strength and conditioning.

“Our RIDE YOGA classes – of which we offer four a week, alongside 12 RIDE HIIT classes – combine the thrill of HIIT cycling with the calm of yoga and all the associated benefits of flexibility, such as injury prevention.

RIDE YOGA goes beyond the physical: it’s the yang and yin of the indoor cycling genre

“A standard 45-minute cycle class will focus on building cardio fitness and calorie burn. A 30-minute RIDE class with a focus on HIIT, followed up with some power yoga, can achieve the same calorie-burning benefits. But RIDE YOGA goes beyond the physical: the mental benefits of pushing yourself on the bike, followed by the calm focus of yoga, is a perfect combination both physically and mentally. I like to call it the yang and yin of the indoor cycling genre.

“RIDE YOGA has been very successful in bringing new audiences to yoga: athletes who previously focused solely on their fitness and strength, never considering that they might enjoy yoga, which is such an amazing way to channel focus and calm and build flexibility. Our trainers are well-versed in catering for all experience levels, and it’s been exciting to see people who joined a RIDE YOGA class with zero yoga experience going on to join full yoga classes.

“Our classes are unapologetically geared towards results, which is ultimately what our clients want. They aren’t easy, but our trainers are highly motivating and it’s a very contagious environment to be in.

“All our RIDE YOGA classes are at 100 per cent capacity, with waitlists. Yes, right now we are managing a PC (post-COVID) capacity of 75 per cent, but even prior to COVID the classes were at 100 per cent. It a very time-efficient, results-focused workout – in 45 minutes you train cardio, strength, core and flexibility – plus every workout is different, which keeps it interesting for clients.

“We would love to add more RIDE YOGA classes to the timetable; the challenge is finding cycling instructors who are also qualified yoga teachers.”

Tracy Minnoch-Nuku
Creative Director, FIRE Fitness
www.firefitness.com.my

H2L Studio – Pennsylvania, US

“Before COVID, almost half of the cycle classes on our multi-discipline timetable were combo classes: Cycle+Core, Cycle+TRX, Cycle+Bootcamp, Cycle+Yoga HIIT and Cycle+Power TRX. We even added a few ‘triple threat’ classes: Cycle+Bootcamp+Core, for example, with the last few minutes dedicated to core work.

“We scaled these classes back a bit when we re-opened, but everyone’s asking for them back, so I imagine we’ll get back to a similar level in the not too distant future.

“We start all combos with a 30-minute cycle class. It’s a great way to get everyone warmed up before moving to the next room for the second portion: 15 minutes for core; 20 minutes for TRX and Bootcamp; 30 minutes for Yoga HIT, to include some relaxation at the end.

“And then all the combos end with a good stretch. Our goal is for people to leave feeling they got a good, intense workout, but also relaxed and refreshed rather than exhausted.

“We love normal cycle classes, don’t get us wrong, but the combo classes really are a ‘bang for your buck’ kind of set up. You get some good cardiovascular work and some intense but intentional muscle toning work, and you’re still out of the door in 60 minutes or less.

When you sandwich things together in shorter, less intimidating sections, it encourages people to try new things

“These classes are very popular among those who can’t make it to the studio as often, because they get two workouts in one. And generally, people love them because they feel they’re really getting their money’s worth.

“That’s important, because today’s clients are looking for instant gratification: they want to feel what they worked on when they walk out to their cars. They want that intense burn. Combo classes are great for this.

“It’s also the case that some people simply don’t enjoy 45 or 60 minutes of the same type of activity. In our combos, right as they are thinking: ‘OK, how much longer do we have to cycle?’ you have them off the bikes and onto the mats. Clients always say they like these classes because they never get bored. By combining two modalities, you keep their interest for longer.

“We get the people who don’t normally cycle too, as well as the people who usually only cycle. When you sandwich things together in shorter, less intimidating sections, it allows you to show what else you are made of and encourages people to try new things. And of course, everything can be modified for newcomers and made more challenging for veteran clients.

“The only downfall of these combo classes, at least in our set-up, is that you’re taking up two spaces during some of the more popular slots. However, our clients don’t seem to mind: they plan their week around the timetable.

“If you have a lot of local competitors, adding combo classes can be a fun way to make your studio stand out. You become a one-stop shop.”

Courtney Farinelli
Studio manager, H2L Studio
www.h2lstudio.com

Club Soulgenic – Jersey, British Isles

“We’ve deliberately given our fusion class its own trademarked brand: Gearsngloves.

“The class is a combination of boxing and indoor cycling, with two instructors in the class: our ‘double trouble’ concept! One instructor leads the boxing, the other the cycling.

“Although boxing and cycling are obviously quite distinct genres, we retain the same atmosphere throughout the class thanks to the interaction of the class instructors and the music.

“The 50-minute class consists of a five-minute warm-up as one group. Participants then split into two groups, with one group boxing and one group cycling for 20 minutes. They then switch and do the other discipline for 20 minutes, before coming back together as one group for a final five minutes of core and stretching.

“It’s a seriously high-energy class, with a funky playlist and big results – all using MYZONE to track performance – and it’s absolutely exploded. It’s our most popular class by a country mile.

Gearsngloves runs at nothing less than 90 per cent capacity, even though it’s twice the price of our other classes

“The physical benefits are huge: boxing for the upper body and cycling for the lower body, with a great combination of cardio and strength/power. It’s targeted at the fitter population of our club and people who want a challenge, and our members have told us it’s the perfect workout. Plus it’s fun: the variety and the fun factor is 100 per cent a winning formula.

“We offer seven Gearsngloves classes each week, one a day, as part of a wider timetable of around 60 classes including ‘normal’ cycling classes. Gearsngloves runs at nothing less than 90 per cent capacity, and when the classes run at peak times, they have a longer than average waiting list. This in spite of the fact that Gearsngloves is twice the price of all our other classes.

“We now want to take Gearsngloves out of Jersey into a major city in the UK. We think, as a standalone boutique concept, it has serious potential. We also think community will be prized more than ever after all of our experiences of lockdown.

“We know where we want to find a site, but I don’t want to say too much yet. We are open to an investor coming in with us for this and may eventually offer it as a franchise option.”

Dr Glenda Rivoallan
Founder, Club Soulgenic
www.clubsoulgenic.co.uk

Fusion @ home

What COVID-19 has taught us all is how to exercise from home.

In the process, we’ve developed a taste for digital fitness. We’ve had our eyes opened to the quality and quantity of exercise content in this online world. We’ve experienced brands’ top instructors. We’ve found ourselves pleasantly surprised by the experience.

Fitness was always moving in this direction – even pre-COVID, on-demand fitness was experiencing huge growth – but the crisis has unquestionably accelerated things. Most operators now acknowledge that a digital facet to the member experience is a must: not a replacement for the live experience, but a positive complement for the days when life/work get in the way of your gym visit.

Imagine today is one of those days. You were hoping to do a cycling fusion class at your club, but now you can’t make it. How do you replicate that at home – or indeed in any other non-instructor-led environment, from office spaces to hotel fitness suites to unmanned gym floors?

SWITCH is the perfect tool for digital ‘fitness snacking’, enabling DIY fusion classes

Where do you go for an expert-led workout that fuses cycling with a second, complementary floor-based class – and potentially even a third, combining cycling with, say, strength and stretching – all within the 45 minutes you’ve allocated to your workout?

Step forward Body Bike SMART+ SWITCH. With its 21-inch, 180°-rotating touchscreen, this new indoor cycle allows users to flip easily between cycling workouts on the bike and floor-based workouts in front of it – all led by top instructors from around the world.

Created in collaboration with digital fitness expert Wexer, SWITCH’s screen comes pre-loaded with over 600 music licence-free, on-demand classes. There are 100+ cycling classes, but also hundreds of other workout possibilities spanning everything from yoga to stretching, strength to HIIT, meditation to dance.

Around 60 per cent of the virtual cycling classes are 30 minutes or under; over 20 per cent of these classes come in at 20 minutes or less. Floor-based classes follow suit – and in fact, there’s a great selection of even shorter classes too (10 minutes and under), from stretching, foam rolling and meditation to short format strength and conditioning.

With shorter format classes already emerging as popular options among users, SWITCH is the perfect tool for digital ‘fitness snacking’, enabling DIY fusion classes that still deliver a polished, professional experience.