Category Archives: Featured Studios

InSync Cycle Studio Post-Mortem Interview

Charles (Spook) Hilgartner teaching his class at InSync Cycle
Charles (Spook) Hilgartner teaching his class at InSync Cycle

It began as the dream of many Instructors – starting your own fitness business. Charles (Spook) Hilgartner made his dream real by opening the first dedicated indoor cycling studio in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. It was very sad to hear that InSync Cycle Studio closed last month.

Spooks final note from their website…

On a personal note:
For the past three years, I have enjoyed the challenge of creating and operating InSync. I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting and greeting hundreds of riders and making some special friends.This, I will really miss.

But what happened in the studio, during class was really incredible. We have had the best instructors! Their teaching skills and unique styles, music and personalities created an amazing cycling environment that all of us have enjoyed. I thank them for that.

It’s the combination, of instructors and dedicated riders, that has made InSync Cycle Studio a pretty good place to ride.

Some of Spook’s Instructors created this very touching video as a good-by.

I’ve known Spook since before InSync and appreciated his agreement to be interviewed on the Podcast. Our intent is to help other existing (and potential) cycling studio owners. We discuss his thoughts and feelings about what he did right… and what he did wrong.

Two main points surfaced during our conversation:

  1. Spook’s experiences reinforced the absolute importance of having quality Instructors + a bench of available substitutes.
  2. He feels he would have benefited by having a partner with complimentary skills to his.

I wasn’t previously aware of this regulatory issue > Depending on your studio’s pricing model, your state or city may require you to secure bonding to protect customers who purchase ride cards with future expiration dates. Spook explains this need for bonding during the interview.



Looking for a used studio sound system? You can contact Spook  444-722-5433 or

Cool Bike Reservation System Knows Who’s Riding

Reserve your spot in a cycling class

I’ve cross posted this at ICI/PRO.

I hadn’t experienced an Indoor Cycling studio that offered reserved seats before. It had me feeling like a VIP when Amy and I visited CB CyclebarnKaren Casler’s studio last month. Very Cool 🙂

The website system she uses integrates her Mindbody account with the class rider data collected by Performance IQ. I thought you might like to see the string of conformation and followup emails the system creates automatically.

First let’s reserve a spot in the class. I didn’t think to take a screen shot at the time so I’m showing tomorrow’s schedule.

Indoor cycle bike spot reservation system
Better hurry and sign up now for Jen’s 7 am class! There’s only 2 spots left.

Next you select your bike – just like picking a seat on an airplane or at a concert. The image is for Bart’s 11:00 am class. Note how you can pick a bike that has your type of pedals.

Select your bike in the indoor cycling class

Once you’ve completed your purchase you receive a conformation email – all this happens automatically. 

Bike reservation conformation email
Having a confirmed seat, in a sold out class, is awesome.

A friendly reminder is appreciated by scatter brains like me.

spin® bike reservation system

After the class I checked my email and saw all of my performance data. I wasn’t wearing a heart rate strap in this class. If I had that data would show as well.

Indoor Cycle Performance date email
Receiving this information had me wanting to return to see if I could improve my average.

Amy and I were very impressed by this system and feel it will really get your participants excited about training with power on a consistent schedule! The website integration system is offered by LiveEdit and will work with these Indoor Cycles with power; FreeMotion S11.9, Spinner® Blade Ion and the Schwinn AC Performance.

Disclosure – Amy recently joined LiveEdit as a representative, specializing in helping new Indoor Cycling Studios. She would enjoy answering your questions. or feel free to call her 612-805-7644

Great Marketing Success!

RIDE Founder's Zac Smith, Rachel Goldberg and Allison Shuffield spent the day with Kris Van Cleave from ABC7 News
RIDE Founder’s Zac Smith, Rachel Goldberg and Allison Shuffield spent the day with Kris Van Cleave from ABC7 News

The guys at Performance IQ clued me into a studio in Washington, DC who’s getting some fantastic media coverage.
Ride DC is a new start up located at 2217 14TH Street NW in
Washington, DC.

Take a peak at the local coverage they’ve received in the short time they have been open.

This local business news show – starts @ the :52 mark.

A nice mention and link in the Washington Post

Numbers can also rev up some healthy competition. That’s what I discovered when I hopped on a bike at Ride DC, a new cycling studio just north of U Street on 14th Street NW. Folks who show up there for class get a bottle of water, a towel to wipe off their sweat and the chance to see how hard they’re working projected on the front wall above the instructor.

There are no names on the leader board, which lists the bike numbers in order of their total power output (speed plus resistance). So all I knew was that I wanted to out-pedal whoever was on the bike ahead of me. As we climbed hills, sprinted and lifted our rear ends out of our seats, I was transfixed by the idea of inching a spot higher.

So, apparently, was the guy on Bike 15, who edged me out in the final minute of class. “My goal was to keep it in the top five,” said Barry Poechmann, 33, who lives in Logan Circle and is training for a triathlon.

And a review in the Washingtonian

In most fitness classes, glaring at the instructor is frowned upon. But at Ride DC, this behavior is accepted, even encouraged.

Although it wasn’t really Richard, my instructor, on whom I fixated throughout class—it was the screen behind him tracking my energy expenditure number. Earlier this month Ride DC became the first indoor cycling studio in DC to offer live-time tracking classes. Each bike in the 14th Street studio is outfitted with a cycling power meter that measures users’ average revolutions per minute (RPM), power (a combination of RPM and bike resistance), and energy output.

During the 45- to 60-minute class, riders’ stats are projected on the screen in the front of the room, ranking each rider based on total energy output. Britney beats and ’90s music blared through the speakers as I closely monitored my numbers while tackling rolling hills, climbs, and sprints.

Secrets of a successful studio – interview with studio owner Karen Casler from CB Cyclebarn

CB Cyclebarn Karen Casler
CB Cyclebarn was recently voted the top Indoor Cycling studio in Orange County, CA.

The “Barn”, as it’s affectionately known, is run by first time business owner / Instructor Karen Casler. Karen shares with us a number of the secrets of her success in the interview below:

  1. Her total focus on customer service.
  2. Using technology effectively.
  3. Offering a diversity of classes to reach the broadest audience.
  4. Recruiting and retaining the best indoor cycling instructors.
  5. Some Instructors don’t fit – what to do next…
  6. Not all customers fit either…

Studio details:

CB Cyclebarn 372 Camino de Estrella San Clemente, CA 92672

(949)303-3112  Email:

Indoor Cycles: FreeMotion S11.9

In class display system of rider performance metrics: Performance IQ 

Website design and MINDBODY scheduling integration by LiveEdit Aurora

Listen to Karen’s interview below or subscribe to our free podcast in iTunes and have every new episode delivered straight to your portable device.

Simply Brilliant!

Are you offering care for young children during some or all of your scheduled classes?

Nope, are you kidding? I don’t have the space, can’t afford the staff, etc..

Then read on because I just saw something awesome…

Other than the hours just after work, the clubs where I teach all appear to be busiest between 9:00 and 11:00. Fitness / Indoor Cycling classes that fall around this time are affectionately known as “housewives classes” for good reason; they tend to be populated by stay-at-home moms, looking for a break from their kids.

The promise of a few hours by themselves or with friends, afforded by free daycare, is irresistible for many mothers. My two girls practically grew up at the Flagship Athletic Club (now the Eden Prairie Life Time Athletic ) where my wife Amy has taught since 1994. Sure it was just supervised play for the kids, but so what? They’re kids and as long as Amy knew they were safe she could enjoy her two hours of freedom.

I see that big-box clubs, that offer free or inexpensive child care, having a distinct advantage over the typical small boutique fitness studio. Their sheer size allows them to have a dedicated space and the necessary staff,  needed to offer this incentive.

So how do you compete?

I suggest looking closely at what Studio owner Joe Ducosin is offering moms with young kids through a partnership with another local company.

Little Wing School of Rock partnership at CycleQuest Studio

This is a music program for children 2-6 years. The 2-3 is with the parent and the 4-6 is a drop-off program.

Certain Little Wing classes are scheduled concurrently with a cycling class at CycleQuest Studio so parents can get in a great workout while their child learns the art of music.

Welcome to Little Wing, the most innovative music classes for your toddler. At Little Wing we are all about enabling age-appropriate creativity and confidence. Music is that magical avenue into a little soul with untapped ideas, images, and movement. We aim to unearth that potential.

Hosted at CycleQuest Studio and infused with rock music, these little artists explore rhythm patterns, tonal processing, basic music syntax, and make emotional connections to great music. Confidence emerges leading them down their own little creative journey. We are looking to contribute to the full development of confident, imaginative, young children, who go out and inspire their world.

Here’s the awesome part – Joe charges for these classes that are combined with classes of his own 🙂

Now I realise that you don’t have the Little Wing School of Rock near your studio – but I’m willing to bet there is something similar. It maybe an art class, dance or a martial arts class provider you could partner with.

If one of my kids came home and performed this for me, you’d have me until they started school.

One Studio That Really Got it Right

Over the past two years I have consulted with dozens of cycling studio entrepreneurs —- and sometimes I get a chance to visit in person!.   Earlier this Fall I visited JoyRide in Westport Connecticut, an amazing new studio that is really doing well.  I wrote up a complete account of my visit at the Spynergy Consulting Blog, but here are a few highlights!

  1. I’ve visited many studios around the country….JoyRide is clearly one of the best (preferable in my opinion to the hotshot NY studios Fly-Wheel and Soul Cycle).  This is a homegrown place that clearly “got it right”.
  2. JoyRide certainly has what you would expect in terms of the physical studio, online booking, and amenities.
  3. Instructor and Music were top notch, but not formulaic in any overdone way

But finally, and maybe even most importantly — this was a place that oozed community.  The whole feel was something that only comes with talented, committed, local ownership that works hard to make you feel welcome.   Read more at Spynergy Consulting….or better yet, visit JoyRide!

Bill Pryor owns successful 7-year old cycling studios near Boston and Chicago and also provides business plans, marketing plans and other consulting services to cycling studio owners and startups.  You can reach him at or 781-254-3677




Studio Configuration for Video

Guest post from Team ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas

Two things prompted this post.  One was John’s post showing video as one more distraction in a distraction-filled studio (see “Virtual Engagement or Virtual Distraction?”, 7/22/12).  The other was my concern about what might happen if instructors and students learned about cycling with video under such poor circumstances – and the entire cycling-with-video concept ended before it even began.

Cycling with video has too much potential to allow it to fall victim to that fate.  The obvious question is how to prevent that and present video in a way that showcases it as the amazing asset it is, with great potential for increasing ROI.  The cycling-with-video concept hinges on immersion, the sense that the scene is real.  It just doesn’t work without it.  Here’s what needs to happen to create immersion.

First, there’s lighting.  If you want the students engaged in the video, the image must be as bright as possible and dominate the room.  If distracting sources of light can be minimized or eliminated, so much the better.

There’s also screen size.  Bigger is definitely better for purposes of creating immersion and making it seem real.  If the screen can’t be big (say, if a TV monitor is used), there are specific ways to maximize presentation of the footage.

Positioning of the screen is critical.  It’s important not to place the front row of bikes too close to the screen.  It’s important not to place the screen too high or too low on the wall.  The actual distances will change, depending on the size of the screen, but precise guidelines should be followed.  Finally, the screen should be centered, taking into account the width of the studio and where the instructor will be.

Managing the mirrors is also critical.  The photo in John’s post shows mirror reflections coming from several directions and sources.  Those reflections will distort, even destroy, the illusion of forward motion and the possibility of immersion.  The solution is either to use a non-mirrored wall in that studio – preferably one painted black, gray or white – or to use a large pull-down screen to cover the mirrors on the forward wall completely.

There’s also the matter of where to place the instructor and the A-V equipment.  We’re used to being center-stage.  ICI-Pro posts have mentioned our enjoyment of that.  With video, though, we need to move to one side and let the video get most of the attention.

Last, and maybe most importantly, the video, the projector (or TV), and the screen (or video wall) need to be of high quality.

(For details and specifics on these guidelines, please click here:

When all of these things are put together in a professional studio prep, the result is completely different from the chaos John showed us in the photo with his post last week.  But it’s not always that easy.

So what’s standing in the way?  In a word, expectations.

Understandably, the club owner hopes to make the studio video-ready for the lowest initial cost possible.  What’s true is that the above preparations can cost thousands of dollars, if done right.  But the inexpensive way leads to what John showed us.   If the equipment costs relatively little, that leads to an expectation that the entire set-up should also cost relatively little.

It’s a profound understatement to say that a poorly prepared studio limits the students’ experience – and that it clearly limits future ROI.

Here’s where I’ll stir up trouble and state that, in this regard, DVD is actually pushing things in the wrong direction.   It’s a halfway measure that’s not impactful enough to create immersion.  This “halfway” aspect of it is why club owners resist spending the money necessary to make cycling-to-video happen on an impressive scale.

To get club owners to make the leap to spectacular video, they need to be exposed to a true immersion experience.  Then it becomes obvious that there’s no substitute.

Seriously, if you bought a fake “jewel” for a few dollars at a street fair, would you buy an expensive platinum ring setting for it?  For a beautifully cut diamond, your willingness to invest in platinum would increase.  Please note that I’m talking here not about budget per se, but about the willingness to invest big money to showcase something mediocre versus something spectacular.

DVD is a mediocre medium with respect to cycling videos and creating immersion.  As such, DVD may be keeping the new concept of cycling-with-video from moving forward and becoming the fullest experience it can be.  Again, immersion is key and happens best when video is done right.

I know these are controversial statements, but they’re true even when the instructor leading the class does a great job with it.  John is a superior instructor who does a great job with it.  But who or what could compete with the distractions in that studio?  It’s simply not set up for … well, what could and would happen if the video were done right.

For one example of “done right”, please click here



Welcome to the NEW world of indoor cycling! Eucalyptus-scented chilled towels, a post-ride massage, signature locker room amenities, bikes that monitor your performance and scheduling software that allows you to reserve a specific bike are just a few of the trends emerging in this wildly popular fitness addiction.

Boutique neighborhood studios are now combining indoor cycling with Pilates, personal training, barre and yoga classes. Imagine a high energy Spin® class followed by restorative yoga, and you’ve found the perfect respite to your hectic day.


Studio ambience is first and foremost in the minds of new studio owners. Clients are
now asking for custom logo flywheels, pre-opening storefront windows, remote controlled lighting, wall murals, sleek and powerful sound systems, curved tinted glass walls, instructor platforms for team rides, and acoustic ceiling panels.

Indoor Cycle Design collaborates with the best names in the industry (FreeMotion™, Keiser®, Star Trac®, Schwinn®, Performance IQ®, ZingFit®, etc.), to provide clients substantial discounts on products that not only withstand the rigors of a cycling class, but also provide functional beauty and quality. From logo design and pre-opening marketing to flooring and microphones, my goal is to ensure your ultimate success.

Check out Indoor Cycle Design’s newest studios opening soon:
The Art of Spyn in Washington, D.C. –
Breakaway Cycle in LaJolla, California –


More openings are scheduled to launch this fall in London, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

Need ideas to spice up your studio? Visit my Indoor Cycling Studio Design website and Facebook

New Studio Opening!

Charles Hilgartner – you may know him as “Spook” like I do – opened InSync Cycle this weekend. Spook’s studio is running Keiser M3′s and is the only dedicated Indoor Cycling Studio in the Baltimore MD area.

Congratulations Spook!

Here’s the article featuring InSync Cycle in the  Cockeysville Patch

This Saturday, InSync Cycle, the area’s only dedicated indoor cycling studio, promises to help beat the winter freeze with its grand opening celebration. Located in the former Casey’s Coffee shop in Hunt Valley, next to Valley View Farms and the Dutch Market, InSync Cycle is a studio that offers high energy, low impact daily spinning classes set to music and led by skilled instructors.

Modeled after similar studios like Soul Cycle in New York, Body Cycle in Philadelphia and Velovoomin Bethesa, InSync is the only indoor cycling studio in the Baltimore metropolitan area.  Owner and master instructor, Charles “Spook” Hilgartner, says InSync captures three important benefits: “a ‘pay as you go’ program, guaranteed online reservations up to a week in advance and seven days of free workouts starting this weekend.