Category Archives: Owner Resources

Where can I find Instructors for my new studio?

No Instructors under here...
No Indoor Cycling Instructors under here…

There was a time when I thought the hardest part of opening a new cycling studio was finding the right space. Now I understand that after finding the perfect location, recruiting and retaining quality Indoor Cycling Instructors is your next major challenge.

Thankfully there’s a solution on the horizon available NOW- a new jobs board just for Indoor Cycling Jobs… named aptly enough as indoor cycling instructor!

Indoor Cycling Instructor Jobs

If you are considering becoming an Instructor – this podcast should be helpful…

ICI Podcast 76 Is 2010 the year you start your career as an Indoor Cycling Instructor?


Do you have a Zealot on your Instructor team?


I had a very disturbing phone call yesterday. It came from an Instructor who I would describe as an Indoor Cycling Zealot. The conversation left me feeling very sorry for whoever had to manage this person and the poor people who have to suffer through his classes.

Do you have any Instructors on your team that sound like this guy? 

It became obvious that I was talking to a very passionate person just moments into the call. I asked; “what can I help you with?” (this call was preceded by an email asking questions about his ICI/PRO subscription) and he launched into a disconnected rant, rambling on about other instructors that he teaches with including contraindicated movements, broken seat posts, connective tissue damage and a bunch of related stuff I missed because he was talking so loudly that I needed to hold the phone away from my ear.   After what seemed like a full ten minutes, he finally asked me*; “so what are you going to do about this?

“Do about what, exactly?” was my response.

“Stop all of these Group Fitness Instructors from teaching like they are… they’re hurting people!” You are an influential voice of Indoor Cycling – you need to put a stop to these contraindicated classes!”

30 years of sales experience has prepared me for situations like this: listen respectfully and then begin asking probing questions. I started with; “have you ever been to a SoulCycle class?”

“No… but I’ve seen a video that showed me enough to know that the riders will be injured”… and then he launched into another long rant about how he tells his participants how dangerous these other classes are and that they should only attend his class because he alone is concerned for their safety.

When he came up for air I explained that I had been to two SoulCycle classes and many others that were similar. I didn’t see anything alarming/dangerous or find reason to feel they need to be stopped – by me or anyone else.

“I’m researching an article I plan to write that will expose these Instructors for who they are and the dangerous movements they teach.”

I explained how his perception of these classes may not be accurate and I don’t believe telling or lecturing riders will be productive. Actually, IMO the effort will probably end up as counterproductive to what he intended.

“How could educating people ever be counterproductive? These people need to know the truth!

So I asked; are you a father… have you raised kids? He had told me early that he was over 50 years old.

He responded that no he hadn’t. But if he had kids, he would want to protect them from these types of classes.

The reason I asked about being a parent was this – parents quickly learn that telling some children; “don’t touch that… it’s hot!” will result in the child feeling compelled to reach up and touch it. They need to learn for themselves that the stove gets hot and they’ll burn their finger if they touch it.

Telling your class that some other Instructor’s, or studio’s, classes are dangerous could have the exact same effect – cause them to be curious about and then want to try those other classes. But unlike the hot stove, these people will take one of those “dangerous classes” filled with “contraindicated movements” and nothing bad will happen to them. There’s a good chance they’ll actually enjoy those classes due to the additional movement and fun they offer – and you may lose them forever as a customer.

I offered him my advice, that he just teach his own class and ignore everything else – which he didn’t like. “So I can quote you saying that you’re for classes with contraindicated movements?”

I replied that that wasn’t what I said – I said his perception of those classes may not be accurate and suggested that he take the time and go take one of those classes before writing any article and re-think the value of lecturing his classes.

“Perception is reality” was his smug response. And then in his best Donald Trump voice he said “I’ve got a class to teach… so you’re fired!” and he hung up on me.

If you’ve had anyone like this on your Instructor team – how did you deal with them?

I know it’s tough to find a replacement Instructor – that’s why we created – to make finding your next Rock Star Instructor easy.

*I didn’t record the actual conversation, so this might not be verbatim, but close enough to hopefully get my point across.  


September Studio Owner Webinar


ICI/PRO is sponsoring a series of informational webinars, featuring industry experts from the leading companies in our industry. These live events will be invaluable for Studio Owners, managers and anyone planning a Indoor Cycling Studio.

Our first is entitled: Clients, new and old: How to keep them all engaged  is scheduled for September 16th at 3:00 Pacific / 6:00 Eastern.

Clients, new and old: How to keep them all engaged

When it comes to attracting new clients, effective marketing is often the difference between surviving and thriving. Join us to learn how to develop a marketing plan that will bring new clients in all year long—and turn them into dedicated clients, too.
We’ll cover:

  • Strategies for every stage of client interaction, from the first visit to the first year and beyond
  • The numbers that matter when it comes to increasing your client base
  • Loyalty programs: how to create your own, and what to encourage your clients to do


Pre-registration is required and you can register here and we’ll send you reminders so you don’t miss the event.

We’ll be recording this webinar and it will be available exclusively to everyone who’s registered – so please register even if you can’t make the live webinar.


Presented by Michael Goldsmith, Senior Regional Sales Manager at MINDBODY Onlinemichael-goldsmith

Michael Goldsmith is one of two MINDBODY Senior Regional Sales Managers, leading a team of over 40. As a”recovering” attorney with thirty years of business experience, Michael relishes coming to work every day to help MINDBODY’s fitness clients run their businesses more smoothly.

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

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

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?

The key to a great website is…

Fitness Studio Website Design
Now that I’m helping Cycle, Yoga and Pilates studios create beautiful websites, I’m learning even more that the key is great pictures!

I often get asked, “My studio is under construction- do you have stock photos I can use?” Yes, we have many stock photos our clients can use, but I encourage all my studio owners to hire, barter, negotiate, (beg?) the services of a professional photographer at the onset. A few good, original photos are better than a dozen stock photos.

No studio yet? No problem!  Grab some great shots of you and your instructors doing cool things- outside and around the town where your studio is located. Include familiar landmarks so potential new customers will recognize your location. Close ups of old and new bikes/ jerseys with familiar logos/ bike shoes/ helmets/ roads/ people being active are all eye catching. Can you get a photo of the outside of your building, or even your sign as it sits in waiting to be put up? How about taking one of the indoor bikes your studio will have and bringing it outside somewhere?

I know your studio is going to be wildly successful. The great head shots you begged, bartered, or negotiated for the ‘about us’ section of your website will come in handy each time an article is written about your studio and they want to include a picture of you- the owner (of course they do)!

A website doesn’t have to be expensive to be visually appealing. The website at the top is and it has just a few professional photos for background and head shots of the trainers. The rest are taken with an iphone 5S. This works brilliantly!

If you take professional photos and add in cool design elements like Charla and Coleman did for their Time Trial Cycle studio  you get a site like this:

desiging a new fitness studio website

And here is yoga practitioner Andrew Tanner’s site:

yoga studio website design

Andrew has just a couple professional pictures and the rest is youtube videos and iphone photos- works great!

Having the ability (and capability) to change out photos quickly and easily is something I’ll talk about in another post. Keeping things fresh and appealing, without having to wait on, or pay a webmaster, is a feature you may want in your studio website. It happens to be something that’s included with every design at the company I work for- LiveEdit.

Are you opening a studio? How exciting! If you’d like to talk about your website plans and options, I’d love to help.

You can reach me: or feel free to call me anytime 320.685.0183.

5 Guerrilla Marketing ideas to promote your studio in the Summer

guerrilla-marketing-examples-1 I just replied to this post over at pedal-on from a new studio owner looking for ways to market his studio in the off-season. I thought you may also be in this position, so I’m posting it here as well. The best advice I’ve heard for marketing your studio during the “off season” is to go where your potential customers are in the summer months. Stop at your local whole foods and grab the free community papers in the entrance. These papers include listings of all the fitness related activities in your area; 5k’s, bike rides, triathlons, tuff mudders, etc. Go to them and do some guerrilla marketing to get the word out. 

Offline marketing at local fitness events is like shooting fish in a barrel with hundreds, if not thousands of fitness enthusiasts (your potential customers) all in one place.

  • Do the Burma Shave thing. Measure the grade of the hill/climbs and post it on a sign on the side of the road, along with words of encouragement + your studio’s name and logo on it.

Here’s a short video showing how to measure grade of a road I made a few years ago.

  • Chalk the street at key places.
  • Print up “post it notes” with some special offer. Then find some help and stick them on the driver’s rear view mirror of cars parked near the starting line. “Why the rear view mirror’ you may ask? If you just stick a sheet of paper under the windshield wiper people will see them on their way back to their car and will already have decided to throw away the one you placed on their car, before the get there. Your sticky note won’t be noticed until they are in the car.
  • Consider becoming a sponsor of the event or, if $$ are tight, offer to provide the event with a bunch of volunteers (or something else of value) in exchange for some form of promotion.
  • My favorite example – a business hired a bunch of high school cross country teammates to run a race wearing the businesses T shirts. Their stroke of genius was having them start near the back and politely greet & encourage the hundreds of slower people they passed. Then they all got together at the finish to cheer on the finishers. With every kid on the planet on Facebook, I’m thinking this would be super easy to do.

What cleaver guerrilla marketing ideas do you use?

Nice Touch

Thank you cards from a fitness business

This Thank You card came in the mail yesterday. I had visited The Firm last Saturday to take Kelly Miyamoto’s class (she’s also the founding owner) in advance of interviewing her for an upcoming episode of the Indoor Cycle Instructor podcast.

Hat’s off to Eve who sent the card. She was able to decipher my horrible handwriting well enough so the USPS was able to deliver it 🙂

The Firm was the first fitness facility in the Midwest to offer “Johnny G Spinning® classes”. Kelly is checking on the exact date, but my memory is that it was 1995-ish =  they could be one of the oldest (if not the oldest) of the original Spinning ®studios.

Flagship Athletic became #2 in 1996. I’ll never forget the day my wife Amy came home and excitedly told me; “John, I’m going to be trained to teach a new fitness class that even you’ll be able to take… it’s called Spinning and all you have to do is ride a stationary bike!”

Do you send out a real Thank You card? One that comes in the mail, not some auto-generated email?


Would This Improve Your Classes?

music too loud

Do you really know when your class music is at exactly the right sound level?

That it’s not too loud so it’s unsafe… or is bothering your neighbors next door.

But not too quiet that you miss out on that wonderful energy?

How about the level of your microphone… is it adjusted so your voice and cues are easily understood by your class?

I’ve been frustrated with not knowing this for years. My studio has what I call a cone of silence – with the front speakers pointing away from my position on the instructor bike, I don’t hear what my participants are hearing.


Often I find that I over compensate, playing the music too low = I miss out on much of the energy music (at the perfect safe volume) can create.

Other Instructors teaching in this room appear to be clueless = what sounds good for them is dangerously loud for the riders right in front of the speakers.

I got tired of waiting for someone else to find a solution and decided to try and fix this myself.

I have a buddy who’s an engineer and he built a prototype of a visual sound meter – specifically designed for fitness studios.

Next we launched an Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign to raise funds to complete the design and start production.

View our campaign here

Your feedback (positive or negative) is very important – please let us know if you feel this could improve the quality of your fitness classes.