It’s just like riding a bike.
We hear this statement every day. Not only does it assume that we’ll never forget how to ride a bike, it assumes we all knew how to ride a bike in the first place. As Spinning® instructors or facility owners, we all know this not to be true. For many adults, riding a bike in a Spinning class is not a natural instinct. For the untrained athlete, keeping alignment with the knees, standing out of the saddle, or just making it through a 40-minute class can be huge accomplishments. For the trained athlete, there is no end to improvements that can be made in stroke efficiency and fitness.
When I first opened Flywheel Fitness, I had not yet decided on “indoor cycling” versus the Spinning program. What I had decided was that as a studio owner, I had a philosophy: I wanted my instructors to be teaching safe, efficient technique so that clients would work on building a skill and an awareness of their body movements—training the mind as well as the body. I also wanted equipment that would allow for a safe, efficient ride. I wanted the equipment to last several years. I wanted to keep classes small, so that each student would receive attention and instruction—not just motivation, but actual instruction. And as a business owner, I wanted an easy way to standardize this across all my employees, so that each client would get the best possible experience in class, regardless of who the instructor was that day.
The Spinning program has offered me all this and so much more. I am convinced that being an official Spinning facility matters and that it has made my business better on several levels.
I trust the instruction that a certified Spinning instructor has received. When a potential employee comes to me as a certified Spinning instructor, I have the luxury of evaluating the person, not their knowledge of how to teach a Spinning class. I can easily confirm their certification and continuing education points by logging into Spinning.com. During the interview process, I don’t have to worry about going through the list of do’s and don’ts on the bike. Technique is very important to us in our studio; I shouldn’t have to spend time telling my coaches not to ride backwards, or with one leg only. I would rather spend my time with them discussing ways to improve the client’s fitness and form, how to work with a class of differing abilities, or how to use time at the end of class to increase sales or retention.
As a small business owner, I am constantly thinking about how to minimize risk. Being involved with the Spinning program, knowing that my coaches are going to ride smartly and safely, takes the worrying down a notch. It has also helped me with client retention. I’ve had several clients who have come to me after bad experiences with other indoor cycling classes, saying that they will never again try indoor cycling classes. They had unsafe experiences with indoor cycling classes that led to hurt knees and lower backs—even falling off the bike! These types of injuries and accidents are avoided by fitting the bikes properly and by staying within the Spinning program movements. We’ve been able to turn around clients who thought they would never again enjoy a cycling class.
The equipment I own was the largest capital expense in setting up my business. I want to make sure that it will last, that I can do repairs easily, and that my clients will feel comfortable and be able to adjust the bikes to their exact needs. In my particular case, we move our bikes daily since we offer several different types of classes in the same space. The Spinner bikes fit neatly against the wall when unused, are easily moved, and can be adjusted to the conditions of our less-than-perfect cement flooring. Everyone gets a good, stable, fitted ride every class. The last thing your clients should have to worry about is the condition or safety of the equipment.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what the Spinning program offers me outside of the class. I’ve taken full advantage of listing my business and instructors on the Spinning.com website. I’ve used the free marketing materials, especially photos, in our advertising and newsletters. We were sent a terrific package of signage and window stickers, which help people recognize us as an official Spinning studio. Most useful to me is the wealth of research and articles that can be found on their website. Being able to refer clients to research, studies, and detailed information increases their awareness of the sport of cycling and gets them more involved in developing as athletes. Our technique blog is always linking back to Spinning.com or referring to past Spinning newsletters. We don’t always have time to discuss this detail in class, so we use our blog as an additional resource.
Looking back, the decision to become an Official Spinning Facility was “just like riding a bike” for me. At first I was nervous about needing to hire only certified Spinning instructors. Would I find enough? I was worried about competing against other cycling studios with funky space-aged looking bikes, and extra, non-cycling add-ons during class. Not anymore. Staying true to my philosophy—teaching Spinning classes as you would teach road cycling, doing one thing and doing it well—has all paid off. Our clients are educated, getting fitter every day, staying injury-free, and loving it. Now I can worry about other things….
Sara-Mai Conway is the owner of Flywheel Fitness, an Indoor Rowing and Spinning® studio in Austin, TX. You can visit them at FlywheelFit.com.