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Author: Pernille

Align Your Stars

Over the past two years, our sector has been transformed. The hastily executed online pivot of March 2020 has been refined and embedded in our norm, accelerating us into a hybrid era that’s been brought forward perhaps five years for operators across the world.

That much has already been extensively talked about, of course. But what comes next is vital: ensuring clubs are delivering a true hybrid experience, not merely ticking the box of hybrid technology.

As the buzzword becomes ‘omnichannel’, operators should be under no illusion that digital can be a mere add-on. Moving forward, equal importance must be given to digital and in-person, ensuring the same user experience is delivered whatever the point of entry.

And when I say the same, I mean exactly the same. Every customer will use multiple touchpoints and expect to dive straight in to a familiar experience each time.

Clubs must therefore learn to view everything they do as one big customer-centric experience – and I believe this experience has to be led by content.

Content is the element of a health club offering that can transcend all boundaries. Where equipment is to a large extent anchored in a physical club, content is replicable on any channel: in-club, online, through an app, smart TV, smart mirror or other smart device.

“Every customer will use multiple touchpoints and expect to dive straight in to a familiar experience each time”

Content also happens to be what today’s fitness consumer – now well-accustomed to working out with on-screen trainers – seeks inside your facility and out.

Content creation is therefore no longer an adjunct to the business of running a club. It is the very cornerstone of hybrid success, underpinning omnichannel delivery of your club experience.

People power
Content is also where the money now is, so it’s hardly surprising that everyone from celebrities to media networks seems hell-bent on becoming a fitness content provider these days. Yet clubs still have a major USP: their in-house superstars.

Group exercise instructors have been key to member loyalty for decades, renowned for building communities of enthusiastic followers, but they’ve become even stronger during lockdown as their personalities, programmes and friendly faces reached beyond club walls and made us all feel better during the pandemic.

Wexer Virtual allows operators to upload self-produced content for in-club virtual classes

Clubs must recognise the power their instructors and trainers now hold. They are the content creators. They are the face of your brand in the digital arena. They are also the faces your members know and the people who, as channels to market proliferate, have the power to reach huge audiences.

If you’re looking for an advantage over the big digital players and the global fitness influencers who try and seduce your members away with their ‘three months for free’ offers and their Hollywood eyes, this – your team of local rockstars, whose relationships with members weld them to your brand – is it.

It therefore goes without saying that every club operator should be maximising opportunities to put their in-house superstars in front of customers, both on-site and at-home – and that means creating digital content fronted by them.

Of course, most clubs already did this during lockdown, but it was a kneejerk response to unforeseeable circumstances, with content often shared for free on third-party platforms. Moving forward, what’s needed is a sustainable strategy for the production of ownable, brand-enhancing, monetisable, local superstar-led digital content.

“Our data shows that the more fresh content you create, the more forgiving members are on quality”

A case in point
Why bother? Let’s take a look at Asia Pacific’s Evolution Wellness, which launched its web-based content platform – Virtual Studio – in partnership with Wexer in July 2021.

Fast-forward to January 2022 and our analysis of usage data to identify the most popular classes from Wexer’s global content library. To that analysis, we then added the content from Fitness First and Celebrity Fitness – two of Evolution’s brands in south-east Asia – and found that Evolution Wellness had 13 classes in the top 50 most viewed when aggregated across all our clients.

Clubs’ own content can be a huge usage driver, and in turn a major loyalty tool: the variety of Wexer’s global content library is what draws people to on-demand in the first place, but the locally-produced content plays a major role in keeping them there.

Self-produced content can also be a significant revenue driver. Recent Credit Suisse research found that 52 per cent of club members would be happy to pay for a digital tier to their membership, and our data backs this up: Evolution Wellness is projecting US$500,000 in Virtual Studio revenues for year one alone, all from existing members, with the lucrative prospect of non-geographically limited audiences as yet untapped.

Make the most of what you do
Producing digital content doesn’t have to be hard, either. Start by looking at your live timetable. Where are your superstars? Which are your waitlisted classes?

Maximise reach and ROI of these classes by installing a simple camera set-up in-studio and filming them; you’ll quickly compile a rich library of your own superstar-led content that can then be made available on-demand via your app, website, members’ smart TVs, even on the big screen of your in-club virtual studio.

The Absolute Group creates digital content for home workouts, but also to use on the big screen at Absolute X

It doesn’t even have to be beautifully produced. Our data shows that the more fresh content you create, the more forgiving members are on quality: four pieces a day and it needs to look pretty slick, but get closer to eight pieces a day and it really is fine filmed as a fly on the wall of the live class studio.

Indeed, unless you’re a large multi-site operation with the budget to build and run specialist digital production studios, our advice is that you focus on getting the most out of everything you already do – all that incredible content you’re already producing – by filming it and making it accessible via multiple platforms, both digital and physical.

This, really, is the vital mindset shift. You need to see all your content as, well… content. Don’t mentally place in-person content and digital content in different boxes. Live in-person classes and workouts, live-streamed and on-demand sessions with your in-house stars, on-demand content from third-party providers to ensure strength in depth.… It’s all simply content that pours into one central repository, from which your members can pull the experience(s) they want via whichever touchpoint they choose – whatever channel works for them that day.

“Hybrid isn’t just a project. It’s a new model in which digital is a key business division that must be resourced”

I’m not going to turn this into a big Wexer pitch, so all I’ll say for now is this: all it really takes is a shift in focus and a sprinkle of technology. All of the above can be achieved with our ecosystem of white labelled digital solutions. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss the Wexer API, SDK, App, Web Player or in-club Wexer Virtual; whatever point you’ve reached in your process of digital transformation, we can help you start or continue your journey.

Create a win-win
Of course, your content creators could feasibly go online themselves, independently of your club; there are influencers out there making millions. But your in-house stars are unlikely to have the database, nor necessarily the business skillset to build one. They have the talent and the mass appeal, but not the platform.

Meanwhile, your club has the audience – your database of members – and the pressing need to become omnichannel to better serve that audience.

Which is, of course, where it all aligns perfectly, with money to be made all round – provided you create a win-win scenario for both club and superstar.

To keep your content creators contributing to your brand rather than their own, you must find ways to incentivise and reward them for the incredible contribution they make to your now omnichannel business. We have a number of clients who pay their stars more for content that drives high usage, for example.

Bowman: “The number of people who now have a cycling option at home amazes me” (photo: Echelon Fitness)

Nurture your talent, too, encouraging them to rise into the starring role you and your members need them to occupy. Empower and incentivise them to promote the content they create with you among their followers; when content is your product, you sell your talent and your talent in turn sells you. Help them grow their profile at the same time as rewarding them for their role in your success, to ensure their ongoing loyalty to your brand even as their reach and appeal grows.

In short, recognise that their success is your success, but work hard to ensure they know the flip side is also true: that they will do better with you than on their own. As usage and revenue rises, your operation will have more to invest in content, meaning superstars continue to grow… and so the virtuous circle goes on.

Yet underpinning this is a simple but vital secret: you have to fully commit. Hybrid isn’t just a project. It’s a new model in which digital is a key business division – one that must be resourced and prioritised.

Indoor cycling in a content-led world

“Virtual classes have long been used to meet off-peak demand and reduce downtime in studios. Indoor cycling is no exception – and with Wexer technology now allowing clubs to stream their own self-produced content onto the big screens of their virtual studios, operators have a chance to create a real buzz around their group cycle offering,” says Bowman.

“The first step is upping the ante on your live classes to make each of them a truly special event that members waitlist to be a part of. You want every live cycling class to be packed, so you might even consider reducing the number of live classes.

“Then put a basic camera set-up in your group cycle studio and record all these incredible live classes, capturing the energy of the room as well as the carefully selected rockstar instructor.
Once recorded, this content can be scheduled to run in any slots that used to be live instructor-led, as well as being made available on-demand the rest of the time. Your own signature ‘wow factor’ cycle classes are suddenly available whenever members come into the club.

“And of course, use of this on-demand content isn’t limited to your cycle studio. The number of people who now have a cycling option at home amazes me; we’re putting more indoor cycling content onto our Mobile platform to meet demand, with cycling already accounting for around 8 per cent of class views. When you consider the equipment requirement and the 1,500 different classes available in our Mobile library, that’s pretty impressive.

“As a club, there’s great value to be had in creating your own indoor cycling content.”

Reclaiming The Crown

What inspired this record attempt?
In 2009, aged 47, I was diagnosed as morbidly obese. I weighed 154kg, I couldn’t see my toes and it was a struggle to climb a set of stairs.

That same year, I discovered indoor cycling and have worked out on an indoor bike, six days a week, ever since. I’ve dropped 50kg and, now aged 59, feel fitter and happier than I did in my 20s and 30s. The social aspect of cycling classes at my local gym has also been hugely beneficial for my self-confidence and my overall mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Our World Record attempts are all part of our fundraising efforts to give kids and teens in under-served communities a happier, healthier start in life”

Inspired by this transformation, I made a career-changing decision and launched TRANSFORM-US Fitness for Kids. Based here in Australia, we deliver fun, structured PE and sports programmes into primary schools to help reduce childhood obesity, focusing on improving fundamental movement and object control skills.

As the years went by, though, I started to see a huge socioeconomic divide opening up. Kids from poorer communities were falling further behind in their learning and their overall health and wellbeing. In 2018, I set up the Fab to be Fit Foundation to help bridge that gap, raising funds to deliver our proven programmes in under-served communities.

Our World Record attempts are all part of our fundraising efforts to give these kids and teens a happier, healthier start in life.

Kevin Moultrie set up the Fab to be Fit Foundation and fundraises on its behalf (photo courtesy of Nathan Roderick)

Why this particular World Record?
Sporting challenges feel very relevant to our goals at the Foundation, so our fundraising efforts include a lot of crazy physical and sporting challenges – entering teams into the Spartan Beast Race, for example.

As I mentioned before, I’m a regular indoor cyclist. Many of our volunteers and ‘friends’ are also outdoor and indoor cycling fanatics – a number of them have completed crazy ultra-endurance outdoor cycling events such as Race Across America, the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, 24hr Everesting, 24hr MTB events and so on – so we started to discuss an endurance-style fundraising event.

In early 2019, I came across the Guinness World Record (GWR) for Longest Static Cycling Class, which at the time was held by a team of New Zealanders and sat at 26hrs: 04mins: 24secs. Our team gladly accepted the challenge, and on the weekend of 31 August 2019, we set a new Guinness World Record of 27hrs: 00mins: 53secs, with every one of our 15 riders completing the challenge.

BODY BIKE donated 30 brand new Smart+ OceanIX bikes for the event

Sadly, during the early days of COVID lockdown here in Australia, a team of endurance cyclists from the United States officially broke our World Record, adding another hour to set a new time of 28hrs: 00mins: 00secs.

We decided we wanted to reclaim what we saw as ‘our’ World Record.

How did it go this time?
We were delayed by a couple of months due to Omicron, but in January 2022 it was finally time – and the short version is, we’re now Double World Record Holders having set a new record of 30hrs: 02mins: 16secs.

The longer version of the story is this… We had lined up a team of 18 riders, including our instructor James Lamb – one of six returning riders from our 2019 team. By the Thursday before the event, we had lost two riders to COVID, then lost two more on the morning of the event. GWR rules state that the class must be 11 people – 10 plus the instructor – so COVID certainly ate away at our safety buffer.

“For the 30 hours of the event, our instructor James Lamb had to learn the choreography to 330 tracks”

We started at 10.00am on Saturday 15 January with 14 in the team, lost one rider overnight to a medical situation, and finished at 4.00pm on the Sunday afternoon with 13 riders, setting a new World Record.

We each cycled between 725km and 870km over the 30 hours – an average of around 805km – and each of us burned on average 18,000 calories. Average per-rider watts across the 30 hours was 135, with one or two riders getting close to a 170-watt average, which I find mind-blowing!

We got some great media coverage to drive awareness of the Foundation, and even though events like this cost a lot to run, we raised a net profit of over A$12,000. This has gone straight back into the Foundation, allowing us to pay specialist staff to run our programmes free of charge in selected communities.

How strict are Guinness World Record rules?
Very – and you have to put a lot of measures in place to ensure compliance. First, you need two independent witnesses, two timekeepers and a steward in the room at all times during the attempt – we had them on four-hour rotating shifts – to ensure everyone is doing the right thing. You also need cameras in the room capturing continuous footage of the entire attempt from a number of different angles: focusing on the instructor, the digital timeclock, and all the riders.

The instructor must be the same person throughout and the whole team rides together for the entirety of the attempt. The ride must be structured as a proper indoor cycling class: the RPM of the music has to change – 60–90RPM for standing climb tracks, 105–130RPM for seated speed tracks, and so on – and as a team, you must follow the instructions and positions of the instructor at all times. The cameras pick up the cadence of each rider, establishing whether you’re in-time with the music and the instructor.

There’s no GWR requirement to provide wattage, calorie or distance data, though: we just had this because we were using the BODY BIKE app. For the purposes of the World Record attempt, the cameras just need to show everyone riding to the beat of the music and to the instructor’s directions.

The team’s record-breaking efforts raised A$12,000 for the Fab to be Fit Foundation (photo © Nathan Roderick)

As in a standard indoor cycling class, there are very short breaks – 10–15 seconds – between tracks where you can stretch your calves, but Guinness World Record rules also allow a five-minute break after every hour completed, or 10 minutes after two hours. That break has to be taken together as a group, though: you can’t have individuals taking their break at different times.

I hung an A1 chart on the wall that mapped out our ride sequences and breaks, when meals would be brought out, when we had to be weighed and when we’d do a kit change. We had an accredited sports dietitian and her team on-hand for the full 30 hours, keeping us fuelled and hydrated and weighing us every six hours, and we learned to eat while cycling.

How did it feel to regain the World Record?
Speaking from my own perspective, this attempt was physically and mentally far harder than the first one: I hit the wall at about midnight this time, four hours sooner than last time. Even as we passed the previous record of 28 hours, I was still wondering whether I would be there to hit the 30-hour mark. It was a real sense of achievement and fulfilment to make it to the end.

The team celebrate their new Guinness World Record: 30 hours, 2 minutes and 16 seconds

Would you ever do it again?
If anyone is stupid enough to want to take this record off us, they are most welcome to it. Twice is enough!

In fact, just before our attempt, James and I found out that a team in the UK had completed a 29-hour ride the weekend before, which was still being ratified. Luckily we’d always planned to do 30 hours, so we kept the news to ourselves rather than alarming our team. But ultimately, I’m sure someone will beat us at some point. And when they do, as I say, they’re most welcome to it. No way am I going again!

Anyone you’d like to recognise?
Our whole team was incredible: riders, volunteers, supporters, medical staff, dietitian and physio who pushed us through the pain barrier and back out the other side.

However, I would like to give a special shout-out to our instructor James Lamb, who also led our previous Guinness World Record. For the 30 hours of the event, James had to learn the choreography to 330 tracks – but of course, he was also under huge pressure to constantly review everyone, checking how we were looking and feeling, checking everyone’s cadence, pushing everyone along and making sure no-one fell out of sequence.

James really is the only indoor cycling instructor I would ever ask to take on such an epic event. To be able to manage a team through such a pain barrier and come out the other side, as well as focusing on his own highs and lows… What an achievement!

“If anyone is stupid enough to want to take this record off us, they are most welcome to it. Twice is enough!”

My thanks go too to Rupert Guinness – internationally acclaimed sports journalist, best-selling author, ultra-endurance athlete and one of our 13 riders – whose mental and physical strength and inspirational stories helped get our team through this challenge.

Finally, I’d like to thank BODY BIKE, who generously donated 30 brand new BODY BIKE Smart+ OceanIX indoor bikes for our event. Incredibly smooth and robust, these were the perfect bikes for our epic ride. They have since been fully serviced and sold to gyms around Australia as special limited-edition bikes.

A New Cohort

If we asked you to name one brand you most associate with the at-home fitness boom, what would that brand be?

Chances are it would be Peloton – and for good reason, with its millions of users and soaring revenues through lockdown. Things may have slowed down for the megabrand over recent months, but there’s nevertheless a huge global community that’s already invested in its bikes and become accustomed to the brand’s slick, customer-centric way of doing things.

And of course, Peloton is just one of a large number of brands that have entered the connected, at-home cycling space.

So, what does this mean for clubs and studios?

Positive return figures from operators around the world show demand is absolutely still there for the social, in-person experience; your group cycling fans from before lockdown will likely still be your group cycling fans now, provided your classes bring them value above and beyond what they can experience online.

Nevertheless, the future does seem to be hybrid, with these fans coming to your club or studio when it’s convenient and training from home when it isn’t.

But what about those individuals who weren’t members of a club before, who bought an indoor bike as their way of staying active during lockdown? And what about your returning members who didn’t previously do your (perhaps a little daunting) cycling classes, but who were drawn to the intimidation-free at-home cycling experience during the pandemic?

How do we get these indoor cycling newcomers into our studios and engaged with the in-person experience? Our panel of experts share their thoughts and advice.


Barbara den Bak

Founder, HIGH STUDIOS | CDO, Urban Gym Group

My thoughts on this topic come from my own lockdown experience.

In September 2021, we opened our first multi-studio, with our new concepts – HIGH FLOW hot yoga and HIGH RIDE indoor cycling – alongside our signature HIIT class, HIGH RUN. Then, almost immediately, we went into lockdown again.

We shot a few simple videos to offer all our members for free, and I had a bike in my house to test the RIDE concept. I immediately felt a huge experiential gap between the live class environment and a single instructor on-screen telling me what to do. I didn’t enjoy it.

I started looking around online and came across an incredible cycling instructor, Kristina Girod, who films classes from her studio in Arizona. The way she does it, you can see the whole room. The studio’s full of participants, the music’s amazing, she has a really powerful presence and you can feel the energy coming through the screen.

“During lockdown, I immediately felt a huge experiential gap between the live class environment and a single instructor on-screen telling me what to do. I didn’t enjoy it.”

It transformed not only my at-home experience but my feelings about indoor cycling generally. I’ve always been more of a HIIT girl – I initially found choreography on a bike hard – but doing Kristina’s classes at home has given me confidence. I feel ready for the studio.

But to actually get me – and others like me – into the studio, we have to show people what they’re still missing at home. We have to create FOMO. My experience of following a face-to-camera instructor? That won’t work. But seeing a really cool instructor leading an incredible class, feeling the energy, getting a sense of the additional motivation and advice you would get in-person… It makes you want to go in and do a class with them in real life.

“We’re all too desperate to get out of the house for at-home to replace in-person classes,” says den Bak

So, this is my advice to clubs and studios: shoot classes for your digital channels – it doesn’t have to be expensive – and show the whole class. Pick your top instructors. Do everything you can to show how cool it is to be in your studio. Then share at least some of this content on your social platforms and website, not just with members.

I know some of the big studio cycling brands won’t do this – their classes go on behind closed doors – but I think it’s beneficial not only for your own studio but for studios around the world. I can’t go to Arizona to do Kristina’s class, but seeing her energy makes me want to find a studio locally that can give me a similar in-person experience. It will help us all if we put our energy out there.

“Share at least some of your content on your social platforms and website. It’s beneficial not only for your own studio but for studios around the world. It will help us all if we put our energy out there”

We will certainly do this for HIGH RIDE, and I have no fear that it will stop people coming to our studio – and potentially studios plural, as I can see us opening standalone HIGH RIDE and HIGH FLOW studios in the future. People will cycle at home as well, but we’re all too desperate to get out of the house for at-home workouts to replace in-person classes.

Another thing we do at HIGH STUDIOS which is very useful for newcomers is make it really clear on our website what to expect in class. We spotlight our trainers, their style and approach to choreography, even their playlists, so you can choose the exact in-person experience you want.

Finally, and this relates specifically to our multi-studio, we place a big emphasis on cross-promotion of classes. That includes training our instructors to cross-teach so, for example, they can encourage their HIIT fans to try a yoga class with them too. We also do special HIATHLON events – a 20-minute ride, 20 minutes of HIIT then 20 minutes of yoga. This crossover is also likely to bring new people into our cycling studios.

Kristina Girod’s online classes inspired den Bak to think differently about indoor cycling


Emma Barry

Global fitness authority | Chief Creative Soul, Good Soul Hunting

“Live has got to get better. If I bother to be in the room, you had better bother to make it worth my while.”

Tune in to the global guru that is Emma Barry as she takes us through two caveats, five mega-trends and five calls-to-action to entice at-home cyclists to the in-club, in-person experience.

Expect pearls of wisdom on:

  •  Reframing re-opening as opening for the first time
  •  Embracing 2022 as the year of workout variety
  •  Lifting our live game and dialling up the FOMO
  •  Becoming social Pied Pipers, whereby ‘can’t’ becomes ‘can’

… and far, far more besides!

Set aside 10 minutes of your life to check out this video. Your business will love you for it!


Ben Karoonkornsakul

Founder & CEO, The Absolute Group

Alongside our studios in Bangkok and Singapore, we also offer at-home fitness: we sped up the launch of our Home Edition bike when lockdown hit and have sold or rented 700–800 bikes.

Around 60 per cent of the customers who have a Home Edition bike were members of our studios before the pandemic. They were already brand enthusiasts and wanted to continue to exercise with us even when they couldn’t leave the house. Our bike – with its integrated screen streaming Absolute content into their homes – was the perfect solution.

For this group, returning to our studios will happen naturally. In fact in Singapore, where the market is a little younger, all our classes are already over-subscribed. In Bangkok, people are still more fearful and are taking their time to return; we’re even seeing people making an experience of their home workouts, with groups of friends and family putting all their Home Edition bikes together in one of their houses to enjoy group rides!

But they know how great our in-person experiences feel. We’re confident that when the fear of COVID has finally gone, those who were members before will come back, settling into a hybrid pattern of both at-home and in-studio classes.

“We’ll create exclusive events for Home Edition members to come in and meet the instructors they’ve been training with on-screen for so many months, but never met in person”

The challenge is with the other 40 per cent: the Home Edition customers who became first-time riders during lockdown. Can these customers be migrated into our studios?

We certainly aren’t seeing many of them coming in yet. They feel safe at home and they don’t know what they’re missing, so they’re staying where they are.

The Absolute Group will offer free trials at its studios to encourage new groups to sample the live experience

Even longer term, it’s important to understand the motivations for purchasing our bike in the first place – including geography. In Thailand, our studios are all in Bangkok, which means people living elsewhere may never attend in person. They’ve chosen at-home cycling purely as a simple but effective class to follow on-screen. Absolute is a strong brand in our markets, so they’ve found their way to our bike. And commercially, as long as they continue to subscribe to Home Edition, that’s fine by us.

In fact, digital is set to become an even bigger focus for us as we finally get to trial our Absolute X hybrid club concept in Singapore. We believe there’s a huge market for virtual fitness, not least due to the shortage of good instructors, so Absolute X has a big virtual studio – including live streaming top classes from other Absolute studios – alongside in-person instruction. With this second distribution channel, we’re very happy to continue investing in high-quality digital content.

That said, when the time is right, we will try and encourage those in the 40 per cent group who live near our studios to experience an in-person class. We’ll offer lots of free trials and introductory discounts, not just for cycling but also for yoga and reformer pilates, giving people even more reasons to come in and experience the live ambience.

Home Edition has been a big success, with 700–800 bikes sold or rented to date

We’ll look at bundling Home Edition + studio memberships; use our Home Edition bike screens to show off our studio vibe; and use social media to drive awareness and understanding of how different in-person really is. We’ll also create exclusive events for Home Edition members to come in and meet the instructors they’ve been training with on-screen for so many months, but who they’ve never met in person. They’ll then do a special class with that instructor – a dedicated class just for Home Edition newcomers, so they don’t feel out of place.

As I say, if we can’t get all Home Edition members into our studios, commercially it isn’t a big deal. However, we know our studio environment, experience and community are big drivers of satisfaction and retention, so where relevant, we will try to engage them in-person too.

Power Play

What’s the difference between heart rate and power training?
Put simply, power is the ultimate training dose, while heart rate (HR) is a response to the training dose.

What do I mean by that? Heart rate training has been around for many years and it’s an important and valid metric. It shows the intensity of your intention – how hard you’re trying to push yourself. That’s very useful for instructors in particular, allowing them to read the room and understand the effort each participant is putting in. With the addition of colour zones, it’s also easy to understand and can be very motivating in a class environment.

Power training aficionado Allen is founder of Peaks Coaching Group

However, the issue is this: there are many factors that can impact someone’s heart rate. It isn’t exclusively a response to training. Yes, your heart rate could be high because you’re really pushing yourself in your workout. However, it could also be high because the room is too warm and you’re over-heating, you’ve had lots of caffeine, you’re stressed, or because of a number of other external factors.

In short, HR training tells you how fast your heart is pumping, but it doesn’t tell you why. It can also vary quite notably from day to day. Plus, heart rate zones are based on your max HR – a figure that doesn’t change as you get fitter. It means you can’t easily track or build on your progress.

How is power different?
Whether you’re in a studio or on the road in the rain, 200 watts is 200 watts. This is why I refer to power as the ultimate training dose: you can very precisely specify a number.

Let’s take the analogy of weight training. Month one, you might have 20kg on your bar. Next month it’s 30kg, a few months later it’s 50kg. The weight is your training dose and the rising number reflects the progress you’ve made. It’s the same with wattage: you can see your improved performance on the power meter of your bike as your output rises from 200 to 220 to 240 watts over time.

FTP % is a great tool in a class environment, allowing clubs to run classes with very specific objectives

Then there’s a measure called FTP – functional threshold power – which is a great tool for a class environment. Every individual can calculate their personal FTP, which is directly related to their fitness level. Rather than specifying a wattage, an instructor can then specify an FTP percentage they want the class to ride at. In turn, this ensures every individual is working according to their current fitness level – but also at exactly the right load for the training goal.

I say ‘current’ because your FTP will rise as you get fitter. If there’s a day when you’re tired or stressed, you may not hit the same output as on a day when you’re fresh, but overall – over time – your FTP will increase as your fitness improves. That provides a great sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going.

How does FTP work?
Your functional threshold power is the highest average power (wattage) output you can maintain for an hour, going as hard as possible for the whole hour. You then take that average wattage as 100 per cent and build your training zones around it.

Zone 1, active recovery, sees you cycling at 55 per cent or less of your personal FTP. It’s an important zone in every class and for every cyclist: it stops you training too hard and ensures you’re ready for the next effort.

“Every individual can calculate their personal FTP, which is directly related to their fitness level. An instructor can then specify an FTP percentage they want the class to ride at.”

Zone 2, endurance, is where you could spend all day cycling. You’re at 56–75 per cent of your FTP, and as the name suggests, it’s about improving your endurance.

Zone 3, tempo, is a zone most people could stay in for perhaps 30 minutes to a couple of hours – or eight hours if you’re a pro cyclist! You’re now working at 76–90 per cent of your FTP, and the benefit here is improved aerobic capacity and muscular endurance.

Zone 4 is your FTP zone, and this is the measure that really defines your fitness. It’s a bit like the one rep max in weight training: you quote your FTP to someone and it’s a shorthand for how fit you are. In this zone, you’re working at 91–105 per cent of your FTP, and translated to real world cycling it’s about how fast you can ride outside: with an FTP of 180 watts, you might be able to maintain 15mph; 220 watts and you’re looking at perhaps 20mph. Physiologically, it’s about improving overall cardiovascular fitness and the body’s ability to handle lactate in the blood.

BODY BIKE’s new app features two different FTP tests that you can do on your own (photo @julie.duverger.buissiere @lifestudio_orleans)

Zone 5 – 106–120 per cent of FTP – is the VO2 max zone. We’re talking three- to eight-minute all-out efforts, as if you’re riding up a steep hill. You’re training your body’s ability to bring oxygen into the lungs and from there to the bloodstream and the muscles; your VO2 max is the efficiency with which your body can do this, and it can be improved with training.

Zone 6 is anaerobic capacity, spanning 121–300 per cent of FTP. We’re talking very intense intervals of perhaps 30 seconds to two minutes only, and it’s about improving your ability to produce energy without oxygen. Working in this zone brings a rounded approach to fitness.

Finally, anything above that is zone 7 – neuromuscular power. Think of it as your very best sprint for five to 15 seconds, which might typically be anything from 700–2,500 watts. This is pure muscular strength building.

How do you calculate FTP?
As I say, FTP is about going as hard as you can for an hour, but not everyone wants to do that – not even pro athletes! There are a few shortcuts, but I believe the best is a 20-minute test that you can run as a class.

You start with a 20-minute warm-up – or 10–15 minutes if you want the class to fit neatly into an hour’s slot – including 3 x one-minute fast pedals to wake up the legs.

Then you do five minutes cycling as hard as you possibly can to exhaust the body’s anaerobic capacity – something that could otherwise skew the results – before 10 minutes of recovery, cycling at around 65 per cent of your capacity.

“Test your FTP every eight weeks; fitness generally changes in eight-week cycles. To keep progressing, re-set training zones around your rising FTP.”

Only then do you do the 20-minute time trial, striking up a strong, steady wattage that you think you can maintain for 20 minutes; you can tweak as you go, because we take an average reading, so don’t start too hard! Your FTP is your power average for the 20 minutes, minus 3–5 per cent to even more accurately estimate what you could do in an hour.

The class ends with a cool-down of 10–15 minutes’ easy pedalling.

People often object – they say they’re tired by the time we do the time trial – but that’s the whole point. We’re trying to approximate what you could do in an hour, so you have to be a little fatigued when you begin the 20-minute test.

Crucially, you should re-test your FTP every eight weeks, because fitness generally changes in eight-week cycles. To keep progressing, you need to continually re-set your training zones around your rising FTP.

FTP training allows people of varying fitness levels to train together in the same class

Do you always favour power training?
In a word, yes. It’s a great way to scale for everyone in the room, so they can train in the same zones and progress together but without having to achieve the same wattage.

It’s also possible to create classes around specific training objectives. “On Monday, our class will train the cardiovascular system with relatively low force; on Tuesday we’ll focus on improving our FTP, with 4 x 10 minutes at 95–105 per cent of FTP; Wednesdays will be all about improving anaerobic capacity, with short, hard efforts of 30 seconds to two minutes; Thursday’s class will focus on VO2 max, with three- to five-minute intervals, but we’ll throw in five muscular strength intervals first.” And so on.

Not every FTP zone is suitable for every level of fitness, though, so classes should be clearly labelled for their training objectives, benefits and level of experience required. Unfit beginners should focus on zones 1–3, for example, but note that it doesn’t get progressively harder from zone 1 up to zone 7: fitter beginners could do zone 7 and even zone 6, provided intervals aren’t too long and there’s plenty of variety in the class.

On the other hand, if you put a beginner straight into an FTP intervals class, I can pretty much guarantee they’ll never come back!

This is the beauty of power training, though. You know exactly what energy system you’re training – VO2 max or threshold power, for example – which is something other modes of training don’t allow for.

“How you create your wattage is important. In a general-purpose class, aim to push people out of their cadence comfort zones.”

Where does cadence (RPM) fit in?
Cadence can be a challenge for many people in a class, especially beginners who aren’t used to moving their leg muscles in a pedalling motion. At first, people generally want to pedal slower – perhaps 70–80 RPM – until they get used to it.

However, cadence is a very important metric, as power = force x cadence. You can produce 1,000 watts by cycling at a slow 40 RPM with the resistance cranked up to 20, or you could cycle at 150 RPM with the resistance at 5 and still produce 1,000 watts.

At face value, that may seem like the same outcome, but how you create your wattage is important: in this example, the 40 RPM approach is about producing the watts through force, which means you’re training muscular strength; the 150 RPM approach produces watts through speed and trains cardiovascular fitness.

When you teach a general-purpose indoor cycling class, you should aim to balance load between the muscles and the cardiovascular system. You need to push people out of their cadence comfort zones, helping endurance runners build muscle and weight lifters improve their cardiovascular fitness. You should also move people through the different FTP zones to work on strength, cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. This is how you use power training to improve all-round fitness.


Get in the zone

Monitoring your % FTP

If the key to effective indoor cycling is working to specified percentages of your personal FTP – well, how exactly do you do this? Easy, says Allen: with indoor cycling bikes now boasting advanced computers, you simply enter your personal FTP at the beginning of class and the console will show you what % FTP you’re hitting throughout the workout.

BODY BIKE Smart+ goes a step further. Believing that exercisers should have clear ownership of their personal data, and that operators should have future-proofed bikes, BODY BIKE got rid of integrated consoles around five years ago. In their place, an app that links seamlessly to any BODY BIKE Smart+ bike, transforming exercisers’ phones into portable consoles that can be upgraded with each app update, and that let exercisers carry their data with them.

The latest app update, launched in April, features in-saddle installation: simply pedal for 30 seconds and the upgrade is installed on your phone, bringing your previous training history across with it. Alongside a host of new features, including achievement-based status updates, are all the old favourites – not least a number of FTP features.

There are two FTP tests you can do on your own – a five-minute test and a burnout test – which, as BODY BIKE CEO Uffe A Olesen explains, “allow people to easily do a test themselves at any point, rather than having to wait for their club to run a class as Hunter suggests”. Alternatively, if you already know your FTP, you can simply store it in your personal app settings.

You then monitor your % FTP during class by tapping the middle of the wattage ‘target board’ to reveal your % FTP figure.

% FTP is just one of numerous metrics that can be tracked through the BODY BIKE Smart+ app, alongside % max HR, cadence, kilometres travelled, calories burned and workout duration.

Simi Williams

Simi, what is the Beyond backstory?
I grew up in Lagos before moving to the UK for my A Levels and Master’s degree, followed by a career in investment banking. For nearly a decade, I focused on achieving success in the highly competitive financial industry.

Sports and exercise had always been an integral part of my life. Movement had always been my joy, my therapy. However, as I progressed in my banking career, I worked constantly and stopped exercising – until I became seriously ill and realised I needed to re-think how I wanted to live my life. At that moment, I vowed to always make time for some form of daily fitness. I didn’t leave investment banking at that point, but fitness became a regular part of my life again.

“Music and dance are such focal parts of Nigerian life, and indoor cycling is a great way to bring exercise into this culture”

Feeling the urge to get more exposure to my home, Nigeria, I then transitioned into an investing role at Africa’s largest private equity firm. By pure serendipity, my portfolio companies were largely in West Africa, and it was on a visit to Nigeria that I noticed all the gaps in the fitness market there.

For me, fitness goes beyond aesthetics. It’s also about how you feel. It’s about one’s mental state and the human connections you develop while working out in an encouraging community of like-minded people. But I found this was missing in Nigeria, as was the element of hospitality. I saw opportunities to bring joy not only to myself, but also to the local community in Nigeria – and beyond. In 2018, the idea of Beyond Fitness was born.

The Beyond team goes “above and beyond” in all they do, so the club is people’s happy place

It required grit and a change of mindset – not letting myself be defined by my previous job or job title – but I was determined. I wanted my life to have real purpose. I wanted to do something about the gaps I’d seen. And when I attended a few fitness industry conferences, it cemented my goal. I felt I was in the right place, at peace with my decision. I felt compelled to move ahead with my plans.

While still in London, I raised funding, secured the location, appointed my suppliers and commenced a talent search for my team. Then, in July 2019, I moved back to Nigeria.

Can you describe Beyond Fitness?
Beyond Fitness is an independently owned, multi-discipline fitness destination that speaks the language of movement and connection. It’s a place of freedom where you are never judged, but always encouraged to push past your perceived limitations.

“There isn’t much to do in Nigeria and people are bored with the mundane, so they’re willing to spend money on our feelgood experiences.”

For our team, it’s also about going above and beyond in everything we do, so our club is people’s happy place. Our resilient, uplifting community is dedicated to helping you live a healthier life. We push for progress over perfection and encourage people to genuinely care about those they’re sweating alongside. It’s all summed up in our motto: Work Hard, Love Harder.

How central is cycling to the concept?
I originally considered opening a standalone indoor cycling studio. Regardless of age, shape or fitness level, this high-intensity, low-impact workout creates a positive mindset and is loved by millions worldwide.

The club has been designed with minimalist decor to help people clear their minds when they visit

However, research has shown significant benefits of variety in one’s workout, so our inaugural location in Lagos unites three fitness experiences under one roof: an indoor cycling theatre with 25 bikes; a movement studio offering yoga, barre and mat pilates; and a strength studio for dynamic weight sequences and muscle-building exercises.

Our cycling classes are rhythm rides. Music and dance are such focal parts of Nigerian life, and indoor cycling is a great way to bring exercise into this culture. I see it as one of the best workouts to get people moving; with an amazing playlist, a cardio workout becomes a by-product of the ‘party on a bike’ experience.

We offer 45- and 60-minute classes, as well as ‘double-shot’ workouts with 30 minutes on the bike for cardio and 30 minutes off the bike for strength and flexibility. I worked with a master instructor in London to develop our signature cycling format, and each instructor then injects their own personality and, critically, their reading of the room.

How unique is Beyond within Nigeria?
Across Africa, there’s no real focus on fitness as a brand or the customer experience. Gyms are lacklustre facilities + equipment. In contrast, Beyond combines a talented, caring set of trainers with a members-first approach to deliver the utmost in friendliness and bespoke customer service. Everything is done intentionally, from the scent and lighting to the minimalist design that helps people de-clutter their minds.

“Where obesity was once seen as a sign of affluence, good health is now seen as wealth in Nigeria”

We’ve approached things from a hospitality mindset, placing a huge focus on training our team – something that certainly marks us apart – and obsessing over details. In our locker rooms, for example, we’ve recognised how important haircare is to African women and provided spa-like showers and a fully stocked blow dry/braiding bar with everything they need to go straight to work after class.

To prioritise the human experience, we’ve also included generous social gathering areas, relaxed seating, an energy bar and an outdoor swimming pool. Lagos is a high-pressure city, so Beyond provides a third space where people can press ‘pause’ and connect with like-minded individuals.

Williams has always found joy in movement; she now wants to help others feel that same joy

Is Nigeria ready for boutique fitness?
There’s a real need for spaces like ours. Other than going to the beach or out for dinner, there really isn’t much to do in Nigeria and people are bored with the mundane. They’re willing to spend money on the feelgood experiences we offer at Beyond.

We charge around US$18 a class, or around US$125 a month for membership, but we deliver a service that meets global standards and people see the value in it.

Also, where obesity was once seen as a sign of affluence, good health is now seen as wealth in Nigeria. Consumers seeking luxury and status are willing to pay a premium for a boutique studio offering impeccable service.

We have had to do a bit of awareness and grassroots marketing to introduce the new concept, but the moment someone walks through our doors they get it – and they tell their friends. Our conversion rate is extremely high, and it’s exciting to see people discover boutique fitness for the very first time.

How challenging has the journey been?
There have been many points where I genuinely felt it wasn’t going to happen.

The first obstacle was securing funding. I set out to raise US$500k and was lulled into a false sense of security when I quickly raised US$150k from my former colleagues and bosses. With their encouragement I decided to push on, not really knowing what I was getting myself into!

“There’s a huge talent gap in the Nigerian fitness sector. The prevailing belief is that you don’t really need any qualifications so long as you look the part.”

I found two investors for the remaining US$350k, but on the day we were meant to sign the term sheet, I had just found out I was pregnant and decided to be honest about it. They walked away.

I started having doubts, but my faith in God anchored me and I decided pregnancy wasn’t going to stop my ambitions. It did delay fundraising until 2019, however – and then along came COVID, everything started taking much longer and I ultimately needed to raise US$750k. We got there in the end, though!

How did you handle COVID disruption?
COVID hit when we were mid-construction, so we ended up launching digitally first, renting out our 30 bikes, offering Zoom sessions and building a digital platform for stretch, strength and cycling workouts. That income sustained salaries for the whole of 2020, which was critical as it allowed us to focus our funds on completing the build.

We actually got a lot of attention from overseas during COVID, too. Nigeria has some Grammy award-winning Afrobeats artists and we play a mix of local and global music at Beyond, so we got a lot of interest from the African diaspora. That opened my eyes to how we can eventually scale the business globally.

During lockdown, even before the club had opened, Beyond rented out its bikes to local residents

At a personal level, the transition to motherhood really helped me during COVID. I always used to be a control freak, but my daughter has taught me that control is just an illusion: you have to let go and surrender. Learning how to do that helped me mentally navigate the craziness of COVID.

Has Nigeria itself presented challenges?
Even though I grew up in Nigeria, it was a real culture shock coming back. In the UK, there was a reliable infrastructure. Now, in Nigeria – if I wanted to guarantee an exceptional customer experience – I realised I was going to have to build everything myself, from a water treatment plant to drainage to solar panels for a back-up power supply.

“It’s so hard to do something excellent here in Nigeria that most people don’t even bother trying. But for that same reason, there are gaps and opportunities.”

Then came the training requirement. It’s fun to empower people, but they have to be ready for it and there’s a huge talent gap in the Nigerian fitness sector. The prevailing belief is that you don’t really need any qualifications so long as you look the part. I clearly don’t agree, so I’m putting my whole team through a rigorous training programme. That will continue moving forward, too: whenever we take on a new instructor, it will be about three months before they’re ready to teach.

Then there are the challenges around being a woman trying to do business in Nigeria. You’re so often overlooked and underestimated. I’ve never been phased by being a minority, though: I’ve had to be mentally and emotionally resilient throughout my professional life. So I dug deep, stood firm and got back to speaking Yoruba so I could deal with people in their own language.

Beyond enjoys a central location in Lagos, yet it offers a peaceful ‘third space’ for people

On top of this, we’ve had an economic downturn in Nigeria: our currency devalued by 18 per cent in six months. That clearly brings challenges when you’re working with overseas vendors, and even more so with the current COVID supply chain issues.

I’ve also had to be intentional about doing things the right way and leading with integrity; in Nigeria, doing things the right way is sometimes more difficult than taking shortcuts. These are also shaky times when it comes to freedom of speech and protests, so we’ve had to think a lot about security at the club – and during recent protests, we even had to work out how to support team members who were unable to leave their homes or who were stuck on the premises.

“I see this as an African business, not a Nigerian business, and I’d like to spread the currency risk as soon as possible. Our next location could therefore be outside of Nigeria.”

The sheer amount of mental resilience it’s taken has probably been the biggest surprise for me throughout this whole process. Transitioning to entrepreneurship, motherhood and a new country all at the same time has been hugely challenging.

The best way I can describe it: it’s so hard to do something excellent here in Nigeria that most people don’t even bother trying. But for that same reason, there are gaps and opportunities.

How is Beyond performing so far?
We opened in September 2021 and the 87 local customers who had rented our bikes during lockdown were the first to join, bringing their friends with them.

We’ve already reached 495 visits a month, and that’s without any marketing and with just three classes a day, Monday to Saturday, across our cycling and low-impact studios only; we’ll launch the strength studio in Q2 2022.

Given there are 20 million people living in Lagos, I’m confident we’ll hit our target of 1,500 monthly visits once COVID fears start to subside – and especially once we start to expand our timetable. We currently have three instructors, including myself, but we’re auditioning more with a view to having six full-time instructors by February, and up to eight once all three studios are at full speed. At that point, I expect to be offering six to eight classes a day, including Sundays.

My aim is to reach profitability on this first site as soon as possible.

All Beyond’s cycling classes are rhythm cycling, with music at the heart of things

And after that?
I’m so grateful to have come this far, and have to credit the amazing support I’ve had from my husband, family, mentors, investors and the amazing Beyond team. But it’s just the beginning.

I have an open mind in terms of growth plans, but I do see this as an African business, not a Nigerian business, and I’d like to spread the currency risk as soon as possible – something that’s always a factor when running a business in Africa.

Our next location could therefore be outside of Nigeria – most likely in Accra, Ghana – and I plan to start looking for it in early 2023. I would also like to open in Nairobi, Cape Town and Johannesburg, and I believe there’s scope for more Beyond Fitness studios in Nigeria too. It’s about finding pockets of professional class people, with the right per capita income, who value boutique fitness. It’s also about finding the right local partners with the same values and passion as us.

This first club is our flagship – the place where we experiment, learn what people really want and make sure we can do it really well before we launch – but I see the model being nuanced for each new market. We need to be nimble enough to pivot locally, and that includes future locations potentially having only one or two exercise rooms.

Beyond’s low-impact and cycling studios are open now; strength will follow in 2022

Alongside the physical clubs, I also want to expand our Academy. There isn’t a body that’s really doing this in Africa – we’re already the leaders – so I’m looking to scale it up to deliver training and certifications across Africa. I want to empower others to take fitness seriously.

And then finally, I see great potential to harness digital not only for an online class offering, but to create strong sales channels for our merchandise, bodycare products and healthy snacks outside of the physical space.

What drives you personally?
I want to bring joy to others, drawing on my experience and my love for wellness to deliver happiness and enhance people’s lifestyles.

My daughter is also an inspiration to me, fuelling my passion. I know that me showing up as my best self is important to her becoming her best self. Being a mother has given me even more drive to really go after things and remind myself that limitations are self-imposed. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything.

And finally, I believe in building a better Nigeria. In Africa, the impact of a well thought-out business is exponential, from creating revenue streams for lower income households to inspiring others to be the change they want to see.

I believe it’s time for returnees like me to come in and make a difference. Because if not us, then who?



Barbara Chancey, Beyond’s studio designer

Building from the future, backwards

We speak to Barbara Chancey, Beyond’s studio designer

How did you approach this design brief?
Developing a personal relationship with Simi to understand her core values was the catalyst for this bold brand that stands for something much deeper than fitness. Simi believes in welcoming people graciously and maximising their potential. She exudes curiosity and grit, and her boundless positive energy is infused into every aspect of the studio.

Any favourite design elements?
One of my favourite features is the wall-mounted, modular retail system – a timeless approach to function and beauty that showcases Beyond’s wide assortment of clothing, shoes and accessories. I also love the small social niches nestled throughout the studio to encourage human interaction.

A modular retail system showcases Beyond’s wide range of apparel

What was it like working on the project?
From welcoming the birth of Simi’s daughter to laughing with the general contractor on weekly Zoom calls, this project was far more than building a fitness studio. It’s been a highlight of my life.

Simi is a trailblazer with a brilliant mind who keeps moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things. Her business acumen and executional skills are exceptional, with a level of professionalism we rarely see.

What’s special about Beyond?
The true measure of a space is how it makes you feel, and Beyond has a ‘secret mission’ of sorts: it’s there to ignite dreams and aspirations, to wake people and make an impact.

Simi’s vision and mission for Beyond is all about the future. It was built backwards, starting with a future idea of what can be and setting out to fill the gaps between this vision for Nigeria and what exists today. This is vitally relevant brand, with Simi’s mantra – Work Hard, Love Harder – a constant reminder of her purpose and passion to make her corner of the world a little better.

Back in the saddle

Let’s jump straight to the punchline, shall we?
Amid what’s being dubbed a global “live revival” – fitness fans flocking back to gyms and health clubs post-lockdown, seeking greater motivation and social connection after months of solitary home workouts – indoor cycling is enjoying its own revival.

From fifth most popular group exercise format in 2018, indoor cycling has leapt up the ranks to claim second place in 2021, favoured by 30 per cent of group exercise participants and sitting just behind HIIT (31 per cent). Note, too, that these figures are global; in the US, UK and China, indoor cycling is the #1 class format.

These are just some of the stats from the Les Mills 2021 Global Fitness Report, published in September and sharing insights from 12,157 consumers across five continents.

“Those who do cycle classes attend their club more frequently than non-class gym members: 4 versus 3.5 times a week”

Creating good habits
Indoor cycling being on the global group exercise podium was, of course, already music to the ears of all of us at RIDE HIGH – but we didn’t want to stop there. Instead, we asked the Les Mills team to dig a little deeper into the data to see what else they could tell us about indoor cycling.

Indoor cycling is now the #2 most popular class format globally, and #1 in the US, UK and China

What really grabbed our attention was the fact that indoor cycle class users have ‘better’ behaviours compared to other gym-goers. The differences might be small, yet cycling consistently comes out on top.

Those who do cycle classes attend their club more frequently than non-class gym members (4 times a week versus 3.5 times a week). They also have slightly longer gym tenure (3 years) than those who do other class formats (2.8 years), or who don’t take part in classes at all (2.7 years).

Cycle class participants also do very slightly more classes a week (3.4, including but not necessarily exclusively cycling) than those who don’t cycle at all (3.3 classes a week).

In terms of all-round exercise habits, indoor cyclists also exercise more frequently than participants of other class types (4.9 versus 4.7 times a week on average, with these figures including all forms of in- and out-of-club exercise).

It’s also great that cycling extends all of this to males as well as females, with men more likely to take part in indoor cycling than other types of class: 52 per cent of cycle participants are male, versus an average 44 per cent across other class types.

“Lockdown has spawned a new generation of fitness fans: 27 per cent of regular exercisers describe themselves as absolute beginners”

Shifting priorities
Priorities have also changed over the last three years, although this isn’t unique to indoor cyclists.

Back in 2018, the top three things class participants looked for across the board were quality of instructor, time of day and type of class. Now, although quality of instructor is still the #1 priority, music comes second – up from sixth place in 2018 – followed by quality of equipment, up from 10th place.

The latter two priorities are particularly marked among indoor cyclists, who are more likely to look for quality music than those doing other classes (27 versus 23 per cent) and quality equipment (25 versus 21 per cent).

50% of respondents say they are focusing more on their wellbeing since the pandemic

This has major implications for operators, who must acknowledge they are now catering for members seeking a quality experience, not simply a convenient workout.

Another interesting equipment-related finding is this: that in spite of the far larger price tag, a stationary bike is the third most popular piece of home fitness equipment, after dumbbells at #1 and yoga mats at #2.

Let’s now set all of this against the backdrop painted by the Les Mills report – one in which the pandemic has changed fitness habits potentially forever, with key trends emerging that will shape workouts in the years to come.

Growth opportunities
The pandemic has prompted consumers to prioritise their health, presenting fitness providers with growth opportunities as clubs return to full capacity.

Among Les Mills survey respondents, 50 per cent say they are now focusing more on their wellbeing than pre-COVID. An impressive 82 per cent say they regularly exercise, or plan to do so soon, and 75 per cent of this group do gym-type activities. Club visits per member are also up 10 per cent in markets where restrictions are no longer in place.

Lockdown has also spawned a new generation of fitness fans who have taken tentative first steps into fitness and are now deciding what comes next, with 27 per cent of regular exercisers describing themselves as ‘absolute beginners’.

Cycling attracts more men than other types of class; 52% of group cyclists are male

Opportunities abound for operators who can appeal to these groups and understand the unique barriers they face: although 81 per cent of beginners are interested in group activities, 66 per cent say they currently prefer to exercise alone, suggesting a confidence chasm that needs to be bridged before beginners feel fully comfortable.

“Indoor cyclists are significantly more likely to look for quality music and quality equipment than those doing other types of class ”

Instructors and club teams have a key role to play in ensuring beginners feel welcome, while helping them find their intrinsic motivation to exercise that will be key to their long-term adherence.

Live revival
After a year of enforced home workouts, appetite for live fitness experiences in groups is soaring: two-thirds of gym members (67 per cent) say they prefer working out in groups, 85 per cent say they’re interested in trying live classes in their facility, and live fitness classes are the single most popular gym-type activity (29 per cent of members).

Meanwhile, at the time of the Les Mills research, class attendance had reached 119 per cent of pre-COVID levels in markets where capacity restrictions had lifted, with live classes in club nearly twice as popular as livestream classes at home (favoured by 44 versus 23 per cent of members respectively).

The human touch
With consumer desire for social connection driving the live revival, it’s perhaps inevitable that clubs’ own people have a vital role to play. As noted previously, rockstar instructors are the single most important factor for gym-goers when choosing a live class: 28 per cent of all participants name this as a priority. Rockstars are also key to driving referrals.

Having great people is also particularly important for winning new members: 30 per cent of prospects say ‘a good atmosphere’ is key when choosing a gym to join – pushing ‘the facilities’ into fourth place – while 59 per cent say the staff are a key factor.

58 per cent would cancel their membership if their gym took away their favourite class

Connected fitness
After the rapid digitalisation of fitness during lockdown, it will come as no surprise that omnichannel fitness – a blend of in-gym and digital home workouts – is tipped to gain traction as we emerge from the pandemic: 59 per cent of exercisers say they now favour a 60:40 split between gym and home workouts.

Far from being simple stop-gaps to tide the industry over during the COVID pandemic, livestream and on-demand have become vital additions to clubs’ long-term digital offerings, with 80 per cent of members planning to continue using them post-pandemic.

“Class attendance has reached 119 per cent of pre-COVID levels in markets where capacity restrictions have lifted”

Live fitness experiences may remain the pinnacle – 62 per cent still do more than half their workouts at the gym – but the digital fitness boom and the growth of home-working mean today’s fitness consumers demand a connected fitness experience that offers convenience and enables them to maintain a more active lifestyle. The evidence? A whopping 84 per cent of gym members also work out at home, and digital fitness users exercise 22 per cent more frequently than live-only exercisers.

Seamlessly linking live and digital will be key to clubs’ success moving forward.

Quality as a USP
In a world of endless quantity – especially online, with the likes of YouTube chock-full of free-to-use, often pretty average fitness content – it’s never been more vital to focus on quality. Operators need to provide world-class content, both in and out of club, to keep members engaged and willing to pay.

With this in mind, it’s important to understand member preferences, and Les Mills found 86 per cent of group exercisers prefer branded classes. Meanwhile 62 per cent say the quality of the music, instructors, equipment and choreography are key to deciding which classes they attend.

Rockstar instructors are key to driving member referrals

Also note that 58 per cent of members say they would likely cancel their membership if their gym took away their favourite class.

Workplace wellness
Employers are increasingly coming to recognise the benefits of an active workforce – and their responsibility to support this – while employees are gravitating towards companies that care. This creates lucrative opportunities for omnichannel fitness providers to proffer their services and reach new audiences.

For clubs, the ability to demonstrate the scientifically proven impact of their workouts will be key to winning in the workplace wellness market, where ROI carries great weight among decision-makers.

Download your complimentary copy of the Les Mills 2021 Global Fitness Report here.

Alejandro Ramos

What inspired you to create Síclo?
Our original inspiration came out of New York. My Síclo co-founder Pedro de Garay used to live in NYC, where he did classes at the SoulCycle studio in the basement of his apartment block. He fell in love with the concept: the music, the cool vibe, the space crowded with smiles.

At the time, I was working in venture capital and was very interested in the entrepreneurial space in Mexico. Pedro was by now considering a studio launch in Mexico, so he suggested I fly to New York to try out a class. I’d always been into outdoor rather than indoor sports, but I was sold and ready to sign on the dotted line by the second track of the class.

We approached SoulCycle to see if they’d be interested in launching in Mexico with us, but they had such strong growth plans for the US that Mexico wasn’t on their radar yet.

“We believe people should enjoy life, and we include fitness and wellness within that: it shouldn’t be a chore but something you enjoy.”

So, we set out to do something different. Something with its own strong identity and personality – its own way of connecting with the Spanish-speaking market – so if SoulCycle were ever to come to Mexico, that would be OK. Our brand would be sufficiently strong and differentiated that we would be able to co-exist.

We hired a really cool branding agency who helped us come up with the Síclo name and design concept. We went out on the road, doing maybe 90 classes until we found our perfect master instructor, Jeremy, and we worked hard on our methodology to ensure we’d be delivering best-in-class programming and instruction. We developed a brand language that people would instantly connect with, giving it a local touch by drawing in phrases from Mexican songs, for example. And we built a cool website that would allow people to quickly get to know Síclo and what it stood for.

And what does Síclo stand for?
We believe people should enjoy life, and we include fitness and wellness within that: it shouldn’t be a chore but something you enjoy. Yes, you’ll need to put in the effort if you want to be the best you can be – and we do challenge people to set a high bar for themselves – but you should absolutely enjoy the process.

Síclo invests in high quality architecture to help give its brand a competitive edge

When and where did Síclo launch?
We went big on our first site, because we wanted to start really strongly. We didn’t just want to do a small pilot. We bet aggressively on an amazing location – a huge space in the Santa Fe neighbourhood of Mexico City, where there’s a great mix of residential, business and top universities. We created a visually spectacular space. And we launched on 29 June 2015 with an incredible new brand for the Mexican market.

It was such a huge location that we could easily have added studios for other disciplines, for example, or a café. However, we wanted to focus on one thing – rhythm cycling – and be the best at it. It was definitely the right strategy.

That first site won an architecture and design award in New York and remains our flagship, with its huge open space, 10m high ceilings and two cycling studios offering 110–120 classes a week.

Síclo remains the umbrella brand, with sub-brands including Bala for the boxing studios

“People laughed at us when we said we were going to charge US$15 a class, but the studios were full within a couple of weeks of opening”

What was the market like in 2015?
When we launched Síclo, there was no boutique market in Mexico; Mexico is always lagging behind the US. But of course, that meant there was an opportunity for us, because we already saw boutique as the future of fitness.

People laughed at us when we said we were going to charge 300 pesos – about US$15 – per class. But we quickly proved that people were absolutely willing to pay for the experience, the space, the instructors, the quality of the brand. The studios were full within a couple of weeks of opening.

Fast-forward to today and it’s now a highly competitive market: our first competitor launched about six months after we unveiled our first site, and many more have launched since.

Síclo live streams eight new classes a day, which are all then made available on-demand

So, what are your USPs?
We’re lucky enough to be leading the boutique space here, and we’ve done a lot of work to ensure we maintain that strong position. We’ve paid a lot of attention to every facet of our brand from the outset.

We have really good locations, with most of our studios designed by Pedro’s brother, who’s an incredible, award-winning architect.

We have a vibe that people really connect with, led by our instructors who are not only amazing performers but also community-builders: we’re very selective in who we recruit, with around 80 instructors carefully chosen from thousands of applicants.

And as I mentioned before, we have a fantastic master instructor in Jeremy, who’s one of the most passionate perfectionists I’ve ever met. He’ll get to the studio well before every one of his classes and quietly sit out of the way, headphones on, getting himself in the zone for the performance he’s about to deliver. He’s exceptional and inspirational to our other instructors, most of whom he’s trained. He also creates the programming framework into which our instructors can inject their own personalities, language, music, vibe and way of connecting.

Not-for-profit work is an important part of the Síclo DNA, including charity events such as Sícloton

Our studios typically each offer around 45 classes a week, on top of which we also run large events: collaborations with Apple Music, for example, where it brings cool DJs and artists and we put a couple of our instructors on-stage to lead huge classes that look and feel like concerts. We also hold charity Síclotons and special fundraising classes; not-for-profit work is an important part of the Síclo DNA.

Quite simply, we’ve taken a huge amount of care over every detail. As a result, our community mostly grows organically through word-of-mouth, and through the fact that the media approaches us rather than vice versa.

“As the years have passed, our ambition has grown. We now have a vision of becoming the largest wellness community in the Spanish-speaking market.”

How has your offering evolved?
Rhythm cycling still accounts for around 70 per cent of our 21 studios in Mexico, and all our studios in Spain and Peru; we have two studios in each of those markets, launched as joint ventures with local partners in 2018 and 2020 respectively. Obviously the latter was a complicated start, as we launched a studio and then had to close it two weeks later for the best part of a year. Happily, now re-open, the studio is packed and we’ve just opened a second location.

However, as the years have passed, our ambition has grown. We now have a vision of becoming the largest wellness community in the Spanish-speaking market.

With that in mind, we’ve expanded to offer more disciplines alongside cycling: barre, yoga, boxing bootcamp, meditation, strength, running, stretching and HIIT Kentro, which is a combination of strength, yoga and cardio.

Síclo’s first site in Mexico City remains its flagship

Síclo remains the umbrella brand, but beneath it we now have separate sub-brands: Rueda for our cycling studios, Bala for boxing, and so on. Each location remains single-discipline, although in some neighbourhoods we have multiple locations very close by, so people can take part in different styles of class with us. And actually, there’s one location in Mexico City where we offer Yoga, Barre and Kentro out of a single studio space.

In Spain, we also do regular Barre and Kentro pop-ups. And in Mexico – originally driven out of necessity during COVID, but now about to be launched as a concept we can roll out where appropriate – we also have an outdoor studio concept.

Alongside all of this, we’ve created a digital offering of live streamed and on-demand classes, which of course allows us to reach areas where we don’t have any studios. Of our nine disciplines, there are some that only exist separately on our digital platform: stretching, for example, and strength. In-person, these are incorporated as part of our classes: strength sections in cycling, weights as part of our boxing bootcamps, and stretching at the end of every workout.

How important is digital to your vision?
We have a strong digital offering now, with a combination of hardware – our biSí bike with its integrated, 180-degree rotating screen – and software, with Síclo content delivered via the biSí screen and via our Síclo+ app.

“As we grow, we’ll tweak as needed to make the product feel local, so people immediately connect with it.”

However, although digital came to the forefront in lockdown, we see omnichannel as the future of our business, with physical and digital equally important moving forward.

Digital absolutely won’t replace physical studios. Many of our community already do both at-home and in-person classes, and we’re going to be launching new packages soon offering biSí customers special privileges and discounts in our studios.

Síclo’s Bala studios offer bootcamps that combine boxing and weights

What digital is great at – aside from supplementing studio visits with at-home classes when that’s more convenient – is allowing us to reach into new markets with minimal effort to see what traction we get.

Most of our digital users are currently based in Mexico, Spain and Peru – where we have physical studios and good brand awareness – but we’ve actually gained users in 80 countries and over 2,000 cities, including important communities in Colombia, Chile, the US and Portugal.

That’s the power of omnichannel. You get great data from your digital platform that helps you decide where to open physical studios next. Those studios then act as showrooms, building awareness and letting people get to know you. You start to grow your community locally, then you launch bike deliveries to that market alongside your studios. That’s the Síclo cycle. That’s what we’re aiming for.

“We may explore Spanish-speaking markets in the US – possibly the world’s most competitive market, but we believe our uniquely Latin vibe gives us a great opportunity.”

Tell us more about biSí and Síclo+
Our biSí bike costs just under US$2,000 – or US$50 a month if you pay in instalments – with the option to add up to six profiles so each family member can access their workout history, personalised recommendations and so on. You then pay around US$36 a month for the Síclo+ content, which streams to the integrated screen on the bike or to your app if you’re exercising elsewhere.

Through our bike, you can interact with the instructor during live streams, as well as with other riders. It’s all about building a sense of community connection, which is an agenda we’re going to be pushing even harder moving forward. We want to create, and connect, the largest wellness community in the Spanish-speaking market.

If you don’t have our bike, you can still be a Síclo+ app customer, but in that case we actually charge you less: around US$14 a month. We don’t believe the experience is as good when you can’t connect, interact or access the metrics you get from biSí.

We do eight live streams a day, spanning all our disciplines, which then make their way into our content library for on-demand use.

What are your growth plans?
We’re already in three cities in Mexico – Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara – as well as Madrid in Spain and Lima in Peru. Our next targets are Barcelona in Spain, plus some South American markets – Colombia and Chile are top of the list – where we already have strong digital populations.

Alejandro Ramos and Pedro de Garay are the co-founders of Síclo

We may also explore Spanish-speaking markets in the US: Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego, even Chicago and New York. Of course, that would take us into possibly the world’s most competitive market. However, we believe our uniquely Latin vibe gives us a great opportunity to create important communities in these locations.

As we grow, we’ll just need to ensure – as we have in Mexico, with the references from popular songs woven into our language – that we tweak as needed to make the product feel local, so people immediately connect with it.

The making of a rockstar

Glen Ostergaard

Les Mills programme director – SPRINT, RPM, BODYPUMP

When you’re talking about rockstar instructors, it’s important not to be too elitist. As our Les Mills training system proves, by focusing on the key pillars of great instruction – technique, choreography, coaching, communication and performance – it’s possible to teach someone to become a world-class instructor.

There is a deeper layer, whereby you know who’s going to be a real rockstar even before they train as an instructor. They just have the X factor, and it tends to come down to soft skills. However, for me the secret is to dive deep into each individual to work out what their superpower is – because everybody has one, and sometimes more than one.

“The faster you identify your superpower and focus on what you’re really good at, the faster you’ll become a rockstar”

You may find your superpower immediately, for others it takes longer, but it’s all about understanding your personality type. Why do you want to be on stage? What is it about you that will draw others to you?

Some people are natural connectors, communicators and community-builders. Others are performers who really connect to the music. There are some whose natural athleticism draws people to them. And then others are natural motivators who can make people really push themselves in class. Over the years, I’ve found these to be the broad areas of superpower: communication and connection, performance, inspiration, and athleticism.

Once you find your superpower, play to that strength: you should always teach from your strongest point. Don’t feel you have to copy others. Work out what you can do better than others, dial that up on-stage, be authentic to who you are and the rest won’t matter so much. People will be drawn to you when you dial up your superpower.

Your superpower may influence the classes you instruct; SPRINT plays to the strengths of motivators

That said, you can’t totally neglect your areas of weakness: you’ll need to be able to bring elements of coaching, connection and motivation into any class. But it is OK to accept that you don’t have to be equally strong in every area. Me personally? I’ve never been great at connection, however hard I work at it, but my superpower is motivation. Know what you’re really great at and have it in your back pocket at all times, ready to pull out whenever you need it.

You may find your superpower influences the classes you choose to instruct, too. I’m programme director for SPRINT, RPM and BODYPUMP, and I’d say SPRINT plays to the strengths of athletes and motivators. For RPM, performance comes to the fore. And then flipping into the digital world, it’s more about coaching, inspiring and motivating; connectors may find it harder to play to their strengths via a screen.

In general, though, the faster you identify your superpower and focus on what you’re really good at, the faster you’ll become a rockstar.


Noël Nocciolo

Cycle master trainer, boutique thought leader, consultant

Hear from Noël on how superstar instructors…

  • Are authentically themselves on-stage, but in a heightened way
  • Are enter-trainers, marrying experience and training needs in every event
  • Can absolutely be taught, with superstardom something that can be nurtured and trained


Renata Jarz

House of Workouts CEO, presenter, speaker, GX consultant

Even those with the greatest charisma still need the basics in place: being fit themselves, good technically, preparing their choreography well and so on. Superstars can’t rely purely on their X-factor to carry them through. It’s like baking a cake: you can’t put all the icing on top if the cake itself isn’t baked properly. Discipline is key.

Empathy is also hugely important, as it underpins genuine connection. Too many instructors want to shine on-stage, whereas the best instructors are motivated by making the people in their classes happy and healthy. They really get to know their participants. They teach as the participants want to be taught, not as they would want to be taught. They get on participants’ level and pitch the class perfectly to those in the room, and to how those in the room feel on any given day. They make every participant feel special and seen.

They use words that activate participants’ right brains, rather than just technical words that activate their left brains, focusing on happiness and feeling good to stimulate endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, ensuring people come out of class on a high.

“Too many instructors want to shine on-stage; the best are motivated by making those in their classes happy and healthy”

They aim to surprise participants every time, making each workout feel different – even if it’s a class they’ve taught before. Every class is scripted, and scripted differently if it’s a re-run, putting the accent somewhere new to avoid falling into the same-old teaching patterns. This inspires participants and helps the instructor stay fresh. I also recommend teaching no more than 14 classes a week, so it remains a pleasure and not just a routine.

Using words to activate participants’ right brains stimulates endorphins and ensures a feelgood factor at the end of class

But even then, with all these boxes ticked, there is an X-factor that marks true superstars apart, and this is even truer for digital superstars than for live superstars. For digital channels, where you can’t fall back on in-person interaction, you need that extra twinkle in your eyes, that special smile, that ability to ‘make love’ to the camera.

I’ve been in the room while classes are filmed and felt a real ‘wow’ factor during the live performance, but then seen it played back on-screen and not felt the same. It can happen the other way round, too – great on-screen, live not so good – although generally I find digital superstars are more likely to also be great in-person than vice versa.

It’s also the case that superstardom doesn’t necessarily cross disciplines. You can be great on a bike but terrible in another class format. Your natural style of movement has to fit the programme if you want to be a real superstar.


Sue Wilkie

Head of instructor support, EMD UK

What makes you stand out in a crowd? There will be numerous instructors in your area, many teaching exactly the same release as you. Some might have taught for longer than you, too. They might be more qualified. So why does someone choose to come to your class specifically?

Quite simply, it’s YOU. It’s your innate ability to connect and communicate with participants, building a rapport that makes them want to come back – something I don’t believe can be taught.

It’s your true love for what you do that shines through whenever you teach. Your vibe attracts your tribe; that’s true wherever you teach, whatever type of class you teach.
It’s also about preparation. Being a superstar is a hard role to keep on top of – charisma alone doesn’t guarantee it – so it’s the hours you put in behind the scenes to keep the choreography fresh and the session plans relevant, all while trying to maintain your love of the job.

Teach to the entire class, not just those at the front, so all feel welcome

It’s the time invested in recording your delivery of a class, then watching back and evaluating yourself on the three key areas of teaching: Instruct, Coach, Motivate.

It’s the time you take to really know your content and choreography, so you make it look effortless on the day. I’ve spent many hours listening to tracks in the car so I knew every change in tempo, every block, every chorus by heart before putting the choreography to it. You make sure everything flows so you enjoy teaching it, because that shines through and inspires your participants.

“There will be some who just don’t click with you in class. Know not to take this personally. You are who you are. Embrace your uniqueness.”

And of course, it’s about building a community. As a superstar, you teach to the entire class, not just those at the front, so everyone feels welcome and valued. You make time to chat with participants before and after class, too, so they feel part of the community. And you use the insights from those chats – understanding what music or track your community likes out of the latest release, for example, or what goals they have – to make your class experience even better.

And finally, you’re happy to be yourself. Not everyone has the same abilities or attributes, and there will be some who just don’t click with you in class. You know not to take this personally. You are who you are and you embrace your uniqueness.

And breathe…

We talk to two operators who’ve invested in the latest technology to ensure their clubs – including their cycle spaces – are filled with air that fills their members with confidence.

The best air you can breathe – GO fit

“When COVID hit in early 2020, GO fit looked at all potential transmission risks and implemented 35 separate protocols – at a cost of around €6m – to ensure our clubs were, and still are, the safest places you could be,” says professor Alfonso Jimenez, chief research & innovation officer at the GO fit LAB.

The CADR – clean air delivery rate – in GO fit’s cycling studios is over 19 times higher than the recommended minimum rate

“As a result, from 15 million visits over 16 months, there was not a single outbreak in any of our clubs. When – in February 2021, in a city where 10 per cent of the population is a member of our club – there was an accumulation of potential COVID cases coming into the club, our contact mapping allowed us to track the transmission rate. It was just 0.28 per cent, compared to an average 5 per cent transmission rate locally. Our robust protocols really do ensure you’re safer in our clubs than anywhere else.”

He continues: “A number of our protocols relate to air quality. In fact, we’re pretty much obsessed with it! We’ve implemented real-time monitoring of air quality in every single area of our clubs, with sensors measuring CO2 concentration: higher CO2 levels mean higher levels of un-renewed air, which is more likely to contain the COVID pathogen.

“In our cycling studios, the air is replaced 22.8 times an hour – just over once every two-and-a-half minutes”

“These sensors are connected to a powerful ventilation system that’s triggered to totally renew the air in the club on average every seven minutes. In some areas – our cycling studios, for example, where members are exerting themselves and breathing heavier – the air is replaced 22.8 times an hour, which is just over once every two-and-a-half minutes.

“There’s an important metric – Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) – which indicates how many cubic metres of clean air you’re pumping in every hour. The recommended minimum CADR for crowded areas is 750, as this reduces the risk of transmission from 100 per cent to 10 per cent – that is, if you’re in a crowded space for an hour with someone who has COVID, and the CADR of the room is 750, your risk of contracting COVID drops to 10 per cent.

“In our cycling studios, the CADR is 14,400, which far exceeds any regulations. But these are spaces where members are working and breathing hard, so we want to ensure the air is intensively and rapidly recycled.

A powerful ventilation system
A powerful ventilation system sucks exhaled air up and out of the cycling studios, replacing the air every few minutes

“We also filter it. We’ve installed HEPA filters throughout our clubs, which identify and filter out any pathogen particles in the air. They get rid of everything, including COVID-19, and take our air to operating theatre grade.

“We’re constantly reviewing the latest research, and as more and more evidence emerges that COVID is transmitted through the air rather than via surfaces, air quality will continue to be a huge focus for us. The system we’ve put in place will be permanent – air quality will forever be this high at GO Fit – and we’ve made a big educational push to ensure members understand the continued importance of mask-wearing and social distancing.

“Perspex boxes around each individual bike allow members to take off their masks during class, which otherwise still isn’t permitted”

“And then in our cycling studios, we have perspex boxes around each individual bike, so exhaled air is sucked up and out by our ventilation system. This allows members to take their masks off during class, which otherwise still isn’t permitted in Spain. We then nebulise all bikes and screens between classes.

“Finally, as you come in the front door of the club, there’s a big screen comparing the quality of the air inside the club to the quality of the air outside, which is public information. Consistently, our air is of a far superior quality to the air outside, and as a result, member confidence is really high.”


Cleans the air, and everything it touches – Midtown Athletic Clubs

When Midtown Athletic Clubs re-opened its eight large clubs from lockdown, alongside all the social distancing, mask wearing and enhanced cleaning protocols was an unobtrusive but powerful new system: airPHX air sanitation.

airPHX units are installed throughout all Midtown clubs (far right, above the doorway)

Widely used in medical facilities as a safe and highly effective solution, airPHX is an ICU-grade air sanitation system that kills airborne bacteria, viruses – including coronaviruses, influenza and norovirus – and other pathogens, continuously reducing these by up to 98.2 per cent as well as sanitising every surface the air touches.

“When we were first closed down, one of our initial tasks was to investigate ways to clean and sanitise our clubs that would be considered over and above what had previously been acceptable,” says Midtown president Jon Brady. “We wanted to do everything possible to keep our members and associates safe when they returned, and hopefully avoid future shutdowns.”

“We distilled the messaging and came up with a simple statement: airPHX completely sanitizes the air, and everything the air touches”

A comprehensive new ‘standard of clean’ was developed, including the installation of airPHX units throughout all Midtown clubs – including in each and every group exercise studio – at a cost of US$250,000.

“We then needed to express all of this in a simple, powerful way to build confidence among our members and teams,” says Midtown’s creative director Eric Lowery. “We came up with what we call our 4S approach, highlighting the fact that our cleaning technology is ‘Strong, Safe, Sustainable and powered by Science’.

“Explaining airPHX was a tough challenge, though. The science behind the units is quite complicated and we needed to present the information to our members in a quickly digestible way.

“We distilled the messaging and came up with a simple statement: ‘airPHX completely sanitizes the air, and everything the air touches.’

“In some cases, we also mentioned the fact that airPHX completely disinfects the club every night.

Each and every group exercise studio across Midtown’s eight clubs has its own airPHX unit

“We did a lot of communication around this to build confidence: welcome back videos, for example, and a dedicated web page. And interestingly, it wasn’t just existing members who responded positively: airPHX also turned out to be a great prospecting tool in the aftermath of lockdown.”

Lowery continues: “We also produced an airPHX infographic that goes into a bit more detail, running through a few FAQs and sharing some statistics and context around just how effective these units really are: the fact that airPHX continuously kills over 95 per cent of germs, including coronaviruses, and 99.99 per cent in an overnight deep clean while the club is empty; that each unit sanitises 150,000 cubic feet of air – the space taken up by 156 school buses; and that it’s totally safe.”

“airPHX really seems to have captured the imagination: we’ve seen so many photos on members’ social pages with the caption ‘Does your gym do this?’”

Brady adds: “This poster is displayed next to every airPHX unit in our clubs, and returning members were so fascinated by the hi-tech approach that our teams were bombarded with questions. We therefore also produced an FAQ sheet, explaining the technology and sharing the proven independent results, which our reception teams could give to any members who wanted to know more.”

Brady concludes: “Member feedback has been overwhelmingly positive around all our enhanced standards, and airPHX really seems to have captured the imagination: we’ve seen so many photos of the airPHX machines on members’ social pages with the caption ‘Does your gym do this?’

“It’s important that members continue to feel safe in our clubs, too. With COVID sadly now a part of our lives, airPHX will also be a permanent fixture at Midtown.”

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