Category Archives: Industry News

What are the best marketing tools for a new studio?

He's a marketing tool!
He’s a marketing tool!

Question sent in from a future Spinning® studio owner.

Hi John,

I was wondering in all your travels have you heard of an indoor cycling studio that has done research on what are the best marketing tools for a new studio? There are so many. I think my marketing list contains around 45 different ways to market a business. It would be cool and cost effective to know which marketing tool brings awareness to a fitness business as this. If I had an answer to that I would obviously strategize to put more capitol towards the tool that brings the business. We have different ideas on how to market initially using promotions/discounts/etc. We don’t plan to open our studio until late summer and we just found out that another studio is going in the next town to us approximately 3.5 away.
Any input would be appreciated.
Thank you – Nancy

Nancy provided me some additional detail, explaining that she’s waiting on some local permitting approvals. Once they’re cleared she’s purchasing a room full of Spinner® Blade Ions. She’s installing Performance IQLiveEdit is building her website which will integrate with MindBody, provide the online bike reservation system and deliver all of the performance metrics to each rider.

I passed Nancy’s question on to our resident marketing expert, Courtney Lee for here thoughts. Here’s her response:

While I haven’t heard of any research on what is best these are some of my initial thoughts and things I would do if I were opening my studio. Social media is great but should be a complimentary tool to more brick and mortar approaches at first and then you can switch over to social media more when you’re following is in place and actively engaging.

  • Try not to discount the actual price as that can discredit the value – instead word it such as “Bring a Friend and You RIDE FREE – a $30 value” or something like that. “Buy 10 Rides & We’ll add a bonus Thank You Ride for FREE (a $30/value)”
  • Social media is excellent, HOWEVER, we can not count on Facebook to deliver our message to everyone without paying to play essentially. Think direct – is there a local bike shop, coffee shop etc where the target market hangs out? Get in there and connect, offering a SELECT few a VIP Ticket (again – stating the value on it) to the first ride. You’re creating exclusivity by offering VIP tickets and making it feel like a big event (which of course it is!).
  • Highlight your “difference maker” from the competition. Do you have extra showers? A super easy booking system? Member perks at local businesses (where you swap discounts for say the employees of the coffee shop and they do the same for you etc).
  • Depending on the geographic area a direct mail post card may reach the most households for the most cost effective price. List your highlights here and also say something like only 40 VIP seats for the first ride event – CALL TODAY! Then talk about the VIP event and all the things you’ll have. Spend some budget and have these professionally designed – it’s your image, the first impression! Typically around $50-$120 for design depending on hours spent in proofing.
  • Create a big open house style event where you find the locals who are well connected in the community. Host a special pre-opening screening for these people and make it amazing. Let word of mouth do the best advertising for you. Create a swag bag for attendees where they could receive 5 complimentary guest passes – have their names on them so you can track the success.
  • If you don’t already have them – invest in some large window signs and/or decals saying you’re coming. Create the hype – be different – get noticed. I would also add that the signs include We’re Hiring Instructors! John
  • Create strategic relationships with other small business in the area. Have them promote you and talk you up to their clients. Once you open you can return the favor.
  • Remember, go direct to the source. If you’re target audience is moms, find a local moms group – sponsor one of their events, offer to give a presentation on fitness for moms. Then mention the daycare room that your facility has – and that it’s FREE – your 930am, classes will be packed 😉
  • If you’ve got an awesome logo have some inexpensive car window decals made and hand them out to your friends, potential clients. Any promotion of your logo is a good thing at this point!

If I had to pick two things I would go with the direct mail post card and the partnerships with other surrounding business.

Hope that helps – I may get a few more as the coffee kicks in 😉

I would add that the key to any form of marketing is consistency – there’s a reason you instantly recognise the Geico Gecko – you’ve seen multiple Gieco Insurance commercials featuring his humorous exploits. So I would consider who my target market will be (think focusing on small niches) as Courtney suggests, pick a few tools and them stick with them.

What’s worked for you?

This article was first posted at

Will you be at WSSC in Miami this week?

Performance iq spin power display system

If you are planning to attend WSSC I’d love to meet you. I will be at the conference all three days.

My main focus will be the Spin Power sessions and there’s a lot of them on the schedule! Especially those that are including a specially designed Performance IQ display system, customized for the Spin Power Program.

Team Time Trial with Performance IQ Presented by Angie Sturtevant In team time trials, riders take turns either at the front or ‘sitting in’ behind, conserving enough team energy for an all-out pull toward the finish. In this workout you will compete as part of a team, as accumulated power output is displayed on the big screen using Performance IQ. This gives all teams the energy to chase and spectators something to cheer about!

Spinpower™: Personal Spinning® Threshold Presented by Martin Timmerman The Personal Spinning Threshold (PST) is the key to Spinpower success—once PST is determined, you have a baseline threshold marker that can be used to create a unique training program and track student progress. This workshop will teach you the protocol of the Personal Spinning Threshold test and how to administer this test to your students. You will establish your own Spinpower Zones and then experience a ride which will criss-cross these zones. WS NEW

Spinpower™ Race Day Winners Presented by Dino Pedras All athletes know that we must be efficient and well-organized to get the most out of our training, and a Race Day ride is how we see the results of that hard word. In this workshop, you will learn how to create a successful Race Day using Spinpower to help you determine what variables you should integrate into your training program and how to best periodize your time to reach your maximum potential and find the way to victory!

During the conference, Performance IQ will be demonstrating how their system can be connected to your studio’s MindBodyOnline account through a Live Edit integrated website – very cool stuff if you haven’t seen it.

 If you’ll be there – please text or call me 612-868-0064 so we can meet and I can say hello!


Should you ban competitors from your studio?


This was first published over at ICI/PRO

This morning I read how Soul Cycle has been banning fitness instructors (from competing studios) who try to attend their class.

SoulCycle bans fitness instructors from its classes

About 10 days after hitting a SoulCycle class on a recent day off, Barry’s Bootcamp owner Joey Gonzalez got a phone call. It was a lawyer for the mega-popular cycling brand issuing a message: don’t come back.

“He essentially said we have a policy at SoulCycle where instructors at other group fitness studios are not allowed to take class,” Gonzalez says. “He seemed half embarrassed.” We reached out to SoulCycle’s public relations team for comment on the policy but did not hear back.

Gonzalez took to Facebook with the news, and his post went viral. (At time of this writing, it had 158 comments and 14 shares.) Other popular fitness instructors, like Natalie Uhling, Darryl Gaines, and Lindsey Clayton weighed in to say the same thing had happened to them. Flywheel instructors jumped in to invite trainers from other studios to come take their classes (“#team”), and tons of people weighed in to rail against the lack of “soul” the policy stood for.

Then I dug in to this story a bit more. The article references this post from addressing the same issue. They begin with listing a few reasons why it maybe OK to limit the access of Instructors from competing fitness clubs. I see it as incomplete… in fact, I feel they are missing the real concerns of Soul Cycle completely.


Why do studios ban instructors employed by competitors?

  • Trade secrets. We suppose the primary reason studios do this is to prevent competitors from coming in and spying on their ways of business, copying them or stealing their methods.

  • Exclusivity. Perhaps some studios want to create a country club bubble, where only approved members are allowed within their establishment.

  • To ward off studio-bombing. On rare occasions, people do show up just to cause trouble. In our opinion, bad behavior is the only justifiable reason to ban a paying client.

Limiting access to your “Tribe”

Paul Harmeling from Full Psycle Studio really opened my eyes about what makes Soul Cycle so successful – how good they are at cultivating a “team” or “tribe” of passionate people who are united by their participation in class. This sense of community isn’t just between the customers and Soul Cycle or the Instructor. There are a lot of relationships, both personal and professional, being made between the riders.

You’ve probably seen this at your club. It’s no secret that common interests and activities build trust between people. That trust can lead to relationships that extend beyond the club. Over the years my family and I have chosen to do business with people we’ve gotten to know at our club;

  • Claudia is Amy and my financial planner – she’s also been a longtime regular in our classes.
  • Amy first met Craig at the club. He later hired her and we’ve been friends of Craig and his wife Julie for 15 years.
  • Morry (another regular) arranged for daughter Abby’s interview, which resulted in her current job.
  • Richard is an Instructor at our club. He’s also a C level employee at a company where younger daughter Carly would like to have a summer internship…

I can easily understand why Soul Cycle (or your club for that mater) would want to limit access to their Tribe of passionate, fitness minded people who have the financial wherewithal to pay for premium classes.

Wouldn’t these same people be prospective customers for any fitness business – especially a competitor located near by? 

Soul Cycle’s “Tribe” is really their brand, the “special sauce” that makes them unique and profitable. Using attorneys to protect a brand from competitors isn’t really any different from how Mad Dogg Athletic will do the same thing to protect the Spinning® brand from improper use.

I don’t know anymore than what’s been written, but I would venture this guess; Soul Cycle was concerned that Mr. Gonzalez was recruiting customers for his boot camp business. Neither of the articles, nor the Facebook post, explains how Soul Cycle’s attorney would know Gonzalez was an Instructor… unless someone (maybe a class participant?) informed management.

Does that make sense?

Studio Owner’s Meetup & Education Conference

ICI/PRO Studio Owner's Conference
This place looks awesome!

ICI/PRO is partnering with ECA World Fitness to co-host a very special Cycling Studio Owner’s Meetup and Business Education conference near San Francisco, CA over the weekend of November 7th – 9th, 2014. 

We’ve chosen the beautiful campus of the College of San Mateo and their San Mateo Athletic Club as the event location.

Our friends from Keiser Fitness will be there with the new M3i Indoor Cycle and new GX group exercise projection system + we’re are waiting for commitments from multiple other Indoor Cycle Brands.

We will be communicating additional details soon to people on our newsletter list. 

I hope you can make it – it’s going to be an awesome event!



Indoor Cycles With Power Owner’s Survey

Power Meters

I get questions similar to this most every week:

Hi John,
I have a friend who will be general manager of a new inn & spa here in {State}. They want to purchase bikes and have asked me to look at the proposal. I don’t know what I would recommend – what’s your opinion on the best brand/models to consider and how can I best put it out to the ICI/PRO community?
Your thoughts?
Thank you!

I normally respond with a few suggestions and/or followup questions. But his last question got me thinking – how can I best put it out to the ICI/PRO community? 

Yes, I’ve ridden everything on the market and have talked with dozens of Studio Owners and Instructors, so I can offer educated suggestions. But beyond my own personal experiences, wouldn’t it make sense to learn from the thousands of other Instructors and hundreds of Studio Owners, who own and teach on these new bikes?

And then make some of that collective knowledge available to prospective purchasers, of the growing list of Indoor Cycles with Power?

So we created a survey and sent it out to a few Instructors, Studio Owners and each of the IC brands for comments. It quickly became apparent that we would need to divide the questions between two surveys, to reflect the different perspectives between Instructors and Studio Owners & Managers.

You can find the proper survey for you here:

Indoor Cycle With Power Owner’s SurveyClick Here


Indoor Cycle With Power Instructor’s SurveyClick Here

More responses = better data.

Please send this to the Instructors on your team.

We tried to keep each survey as brief as possible, but there’s a lot to learn here 🙂

If you teach at multiple locations, each with a different IC with Power, please feel free to complete a separate survey for each location. This will run until the end of January. If you need an early peek sooner than that – Contact us.

MINDBODY FitPro Studio Business Conference

 MINDBODY FitPro Conference discount

Are you planning to attend the MINDBODY FitPro conference in Los Angeles September 27th – 29th?

If so please say hello if you are at the Friday morning networking breakfast or, if you’re not afraid of heights, at the Saturday evening party up on the helicopter pad.

Feel free to text me 612-868-0064 so we can meetup.

You can save 20% on the registration fee using the coupon code READY4FITPRO 

There’s a good chance you’ll run into me at the Spinning® booth where Performance IQ will be showing off their display system, connected to the new Spinner® Blade ION indoor cycle with power. Very cool and I’m excite to hear what studio owners have to say when they see it in action + get their thoughts about using rider performance data as a retention tool.

Performance IQ indoor Class rider data from Spinner Blade ION
This all connects with your MINDBODY Online system now!

Tae Yoo and Mark Davids from Performance IQ invited me to attend this year, going so far as sponsoring my trip. Thanks Guys 🙂

There looks to be a ton of informative business sessions. Here are a few I’m hoping to attend:

Corporate Wellness: Making it Your Business – David McAtee
Join David McAtee, Sales Manager for MINDBODY Exchange, to review the latest trends in the corporate wellness market and learn how to promote your practice through the new MINDBODY Exchange.

Connecting the Dots: How to Build a Breakthrough Business– Rick Stollmeyer
Join MINDBODY Co-Founder and CEO, Rick Stollmeyer, for an inspiring discussion of what it takes to build a business from the ground up. Rick will share his own entrepreneurial journey from garage start-up to global leader, highlighting the “dots” every entrepreneur needs to connect before a business can truly break through the barriers to success.

Creating, Cultivating and Living Your Brand in the Fitness Industry – Jessica Matthews With a plethora of information and services out there, what makes you or your business different from the rest? The road to becoming a recognized and respected name in the world of health and fitness begins with identifying and embracing who you authentically are, clearly establishing what it is that you uniquely offer, and ultimately building trust and maintaining the loyalty of those that you interact with. From leveraging your knowledge and skills to optimizing your reach and enhancing how you communicate your message, discover how to establish and grow your personal brand while inspiring others to live happier, healthier, fitter lives.

You can download the full schedule, session descriptions and register here.

What’s happening with Indoor Cycling Studios in 2013?

help starting a new indoor cycling studio
It was the Podcast that launched dozens of new cycling studio startups. Our February 2010 interview with Indoor Cycling Studio consultant Bill Pryor (Podcast #88) presented the idea that a passionate Instructor could open a successful studio. We’re aware of dozens who did and Bill has assisted over 200 entrepreneurs around the world plan and operate their new fitness business.

That was three years ago and there’s been a lot of changes in our industry as it affects independent studios; all the new indoor cycles with power/watts, MyRide+ big screen virtual ride offerings from ICG and others, rider metrics displayed and captured by Performance IQ & MyZone and the ascension of SoulCycle, Flywheel and the new Peloton studios that have interjected an enormous amount of buzz in our market.

If, after listening to this, the wheels start turning and you’d like more information about starting your own studio – you can contact Bill at


Listen to this episode below or subscribe to the Indoor Cycle Instructor Podcast in iTunes.


2013 Indoor Cycling Trends

Indoor Cycling Studio Design

Just a few trends I’ve seen in 2012 that are moving smartly into 2013.

Dual fitness offerings – boutique cycling studios are now combining TRX, Pilates, personal training, yoga, etc. The ideal studio space required to provide these amenities is running 3000 sq ft. and above.

Ambient features are now included in the start up budget…no longer an option but a must have on opening day. Even the big box gyms are installing LED lighting and promoting the entire mind/body ride concept. If the corporate giants are starting to figure it out, boutique studios must stay ahead of the game and keep adding more….video, performance tracking, etc.

Benefit rides are all the rage. If your studio doesn’t offer yearly at least ONE cancer/special olympics, etc. ride with proceeds going to a local charity, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity to recruit new members and establish yourself as a forward thinking fitness organization. My studio hosts 2-3 benefit rides per year….I have tons of resources if anyone is interested.

SPD’s required…no longer an option in many studios. The shift has been strong in 2012 for clips only. As you know, I’m working with Pearl and others to provide dealer status to studios. Stocking rental shoes is the accepted norm now.

Studio Logo/Names – The swoosh image on a bike has seen its day and new designs for studios are clean, more Euro, and less nosiy…..very clean. simple.

Websites – look impressive. No longer are GoDaddy “do it yourself” websites cutting it. Clients are sinking tons of money into edgy website experiences….check out my latest project:

And puh-leeeese, studio owners! Hire a consultant to check your site for grammatical errors, incorrect usage of cycling terms, and red flags that shout “little details don’t matter” to your customers. I’ve found so many spelling/punctuation/redundancy/inaccurate info on cycling sites. Studio owners are cutting back funds and creating the text themselves…or worse, they’re plagiarizing from other sites.

Studio names. Guys, if your don’t trademark, anyone can use your studio name…it’s up to you to protect it. I’m aware studios in different cities with the same name. I asked one why she had not trademarked for protection, and her reply was, “haven’t gotten around to it….” Please Include legal fees in your startup budget.

Branding…’s the name of the game. Everything from clothing to bumper stickers…studios are blowing it up with marketing and creating a buzz with super cool gear with a logo recognized immediately. Friday night wine tasting after a ride, guest celebrity chefs, fitness lectures…etc. We are creating a community, not just a cycling studio. See me for more info.

Financial Hardships Fuel the Fitness Industry

Guest post from Barbara Hoots

When the world markets were crashing in 1929 and the American economy was in ruins, Angelo Siciliano, an Italian immigrant, saw opportunity in the face of darkness. In the midst of financial despair and against all odds, Siciliano pioneered the fitness revolution as we know it today.

As a young man weighing only 97 pounds, Siciliano was at the beach with his girlfriend when a bully kicked sand in his face. Humiliated, he began doing numerous exercise routines and became obsessed with strength. According to Siciliano’s memoirs, he was at the zoo one day watching a lion stretch when he thought to himself, “Does this old gentleman have any barbells, any exercisers?” Siciliano concluded that lions and tigers became strong by pitting muscle against muscle. He changed his name to Charles Atlas and in the midst of economic turmoil began offering bodybuilding courses through a mail-order fitness program. Advertisements soon appeared in comic books and magazines, and this was the beginning of Charles Atlas Ltd., the fitness industry phenomenon. According to Atlas’s 1982 biography, “Yours in Perfect Manhood,” his company did so well that it emerged from the stock market crash unscathed.

Before the Great Depression lifted, Jack LaLanne, often called the Godfather of Fitness, also influenced millions of lives by teaching people to eat right and exercise regularly. LaLanne, who died last January at the age of 96, opened the first American health club in Oakland, California in 1936. LaLanne spent decades spreading the physical and mental benefits of exercise and designed the world’s first leg-extension machine which is now standard in the industry.

Neither Atlas nor Lalanne were personal trainers but rather shrewd businessmen. Both saw a hunger for people wanting to escape their financial woes and feel good about themselves. While others laughed at the notion of opening a business during an economic meltdown, Atlas and LaLanne created a multi-million dollar fitness empire.

Is something similar brewing? Despite the sagging economy and rising unemployment, several recent polls indicate that tough financial times actually encourage people to redirect their expenses toward health-conscious pursuits while traveling and dining out less often. While some may suggest that dropping your health club membership along with cable television is the right thing to do in a troubled economy, you should never give up your membership in ANY economy. Your gym membership is an incredible value for these 5 reasons:

1. On average, a single meal out costs well over half what your gym membership costs you.

2. Working out regularly keeps you mentally and physically balanced. Enough said.

3. No matter what gym you belong to, it’s a community. Enjoying like-minded individuals is good for the soul.

4. Your health club is a safe harbor. No matter how hectic your life becomes with interruptions, knowing you have a bike waiting in the 6:00 cycling class provides a constant in your daily schedule.

5. Exercise boosts self-confidence, and this is important if you’re dealing with the negative effects of a recession or your confidence is down due to a job loss.

Just like Atlas and LaLanne, studio owners have an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive by promoting fitness as a way to survive financial hardships. While it’s true that money can’t bring happiness, good health most definitely can.

Barbara Hoots is a long time contributor at and you can read her other articles here. Considering a new studio? Visit to learn more about designing the perfect Spinning® Studio.