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Author: Pernille

Tom Moos

When did you launch Holy Ride – and why?

We launched Holy Ride in April of this year, inside our first Saints & Stars club in Amsterdam Oud-West – a club that originally opened in 2018.

The ‘why’ is interesting, because when we went back to our original drawings for the club, it included a Ride studio; even before we launched Saints & Stars, we had always planned to offer indoor cycling.

At the time, though, I thought it might be tough to execute three distinct group exercise formats really well, all at the same time. So instead of group cycling, we created our Personal Training offering – something I felt really comfortable with having worked in clubs for years – alongside boxing concept Holy Box and cardio HIIT bootcamp Holy Shred.

Now I realise we should have done Holy Ride from the beginning! Because it’s what our members want, and that’s how we make all our decisions.

We did an in-depth survey of our members and our former members to understand what more they wanted from us and why they had left. The findings were very clear: people loved our brand but we didn’t have all the concepts they wanted. Specifically, we lacked indoor cycling and reformer pilates – with cycling far and away the number one request – and people were going elsewhere for these two disciplines. The decision to create Holy Ride was therefore a very easy one.

How would you describe Holy Ride?

Indoor cycling is the #1 group exercise format in the Netherlands, and in Amsterdam, boutique cycling is incredibly competitive. We knew we needed to do something very different to stand out in a mature market.

At the same time, though, we felt there was an opportunity to raise standards. Looking across the market, we saw too little focus on performance. Yes, a ride has to be fun and a great experience, but we believe the output is important too. We saw strength tracks that we didn’t think were particularly good. We saw immersive environments poorly executed. We saw inconsistencies in quality within brands.

We therefore talk about Holy Ride as ‘Redefining the Standards’, because we’ve taken all of this and turned it on its head in our concept.

We use bikes where you can track all your data and we deliberately make our workouts a little tougher. It’s OK not to be for everyone. We format all our classes, minute by minute, because we believe a strong brand comes from providing the same experience and quality across every class. And we’ve spent €100,000 on the Holy Ride audiovisual system alone, for an immersive experience like no other.

That makes it the most expensive AV system we’ve ever installed, but we had the luxury of the new studio being the conversion of a pre-existing space. The club also already had members, so Ride classes were full the moment the studio opened. We expect to achieve ROI in three months.

Over and above all that, you only have one chance to make a good first impression, especially in a mature market. We were never going to cut corners or skimp on the investment.

“Holy Ride classes were full the moment the studio opened. We expect to achieve ROI in three months.”

Tell us more about the AV.

We knew we wanted to create something really special, so we went outside the fitness sector and spoke to Awakenings Festival – the best festival producer in the Netherlands. It had previously used our studios for smaller events, so we’d seen the incredible lighting and sound effects they could create just from their laptops – far better than anything we’d ever done! We were therefore really keen to work with them, and they were excited by the chance to think outside the box and work on a brand new, small-space concept.

The result is exceptional. We have lasers and LEDs. We have ‘moving heads’ – the tool we use most, which allows us to create all sorts of shapes and effects with our lighting, flooding the space with light and movement.

We have water-based smoke, which is really cool. In a cycle studio, you’re part of a pack, but you also want your own space to focus on yourself. The smoke helps create that sense of personal space, which is impressive given we have 60 bikes in 130sq m of floorspace. I’ve never put so many people in a room

And because our classes are formatted, we know exactly what’s coming, so the sound and light all comes together perfectly with the class content. In a climb, for example, we use music and beams of light to build the ‘scenery’ of a climb. In a sprint, the lighting is suddenly very quick, with lots of colour and lots of white, culminating in a blinding flash of light at the end – done! – and then a sudden plunge into total darkness and silence before slowly building back up again.

The instructor also has the best seat in the house when it comes to the sound. This isn’t the standard approach, but it ensures they’re absolutely on-point in their delivery

Are your stars OK with formatting?

A lot of people say formatting kills creativity, but I disagree. All our classes are formatted, not just Holy Ride, and I believe it’s a real strength for us.

It certainly doesn’t mean the experience is repetitive. Our members typically do around three classes a week, and we change formats regularly enough that you’d be unlucky to do the same class twice. This isn’t hard to do, either, because there are moves in indoor cycling that you always do in every class. If you move sections around to be in a different order, change the music and the lighting, it’s instantly a very different experience. Even just changing 15–20 per cent of a cycling class makes it feel totally different.

Then consider that even good instructors elsewhere might use the same playlist multiple times… I don’t think it’s formatting that makes the experience boring!

The challenge was persuading star instructors of this –because as with all our concepts, I wanted the absolute top indoor cycling instructors in Amsterdam to come onboard and deliver Holy Ride.

We’d done our research and we knew who we wanted, but getting them onboard was the toughest part of the whole project. The secret – other than paying them well and continually training them, which is something we’ve always prided ourselves on – was to get them involved early. We invited them to help develop the concept and the formatting, creating the product they would deliver, and we got the instructors we wanted.

Holy ride class instructor

“Our member base grows each time we add a new concept, so it makes sense to make our products as ‘whole’ as possible”

So, you have seven concepts now?

Yes, we have Holy Ride, Holy Shred, Holy Box, Holy Booty, Holy Build – a small group technique-based workout for members only, not those on class packs – Personal Training and our Open Gym.

Holy Shred is the only concept that’s currently on offer at both our locations, because our clubs only about 10 minutes’ cycle ride apart. It’s easy for people to use both of them, depending on which workout they want to do that day.

Our members typically each do three or four of our seven concepts. There’s one cluster who veer towards Personal Training, Open Gym and Holy Build – typically members who like gym workouts but who want a more experiential environment. The other cluster is more group exercise-focused, whereby people mix and match between Holy Ride, Holy Shred, Holy Box and Holy Booty.

When we first set out, I feared that if we offered too much – too many concepts – we might dilute the brand. I no longer worry about that, though, and in large part that’s because our marketing is higher level, focusing on our overarching purpose at Saints & Stars. Particularly for an audience of Millennials and Gen Zs, that’s really important. They want to know why you do what you do.

It’s also the case that our member base grows each time we add a new concept, so it makes sense to make our product as ‘whole’ as possible.

Will you launch more Holy Rides?

We won’t retrofit Ride into our other existing club in Amsterdam Oud-Zuid. The club is large enough to house another studio, but our members spend lots of time in our communal areas and we don’t want to detract from the experience by cramping the space, especially since the 30 per cent growth in membership.

We are, however, opening a new club in Amsterdam in early 2023. If Ride is still in our top three concepts when we design it, it will probably have a Ride studio!

As I say, we respond to what our members want, so in any new club we’ll put in the most popular concepts. We might even introduce an eighth concept in the next one, which at this stage would most likely be reformer pilates. But we’ll always have flexibility in space and mindset to change things in the future if needed. The Gen Z mindset changes all the time. You have to be ready to change with them.

The Holy Ride studio has 60 bikes in 130sq m of floorspace

“We respond to what our members want. The Gen Z mindset changes all the time. You have to be ready to change with them.”

Any other plans you can share?

The boutique sector remains challenging, with studios sadly still going out of business since the pandemic; I imagine there may be opportunities to grow further by acquiring and converting existing studios. I’d also love to take Saints & Stars beyond Amsterdam.

The pandemic changed my outlook in other ways, too. For example, I always said we would never do digital content, but in lockdown it was one of the many things we did to keep our community and our instructors engaged with our brand. The content was free to use at that point, and accessible to everyone, and it was great for brand awareness.

Moving forward, although I’m still not 100 per cent sold on digital, I have to recognise that hybrid lifestyles have embedded themselves. It won’t be this year, but at some point in the future I can see us doing some sort of paid-for digital offering.

What’s the future of indoor cycling?

In Amsterdam, which is the market I know, I believe indoor cycling will become increasingly immersive and experiential. There are still a lot of dark boxes at the moment!

We’ll see the technology that customers experience at festivals, for example, becoming affordable for smaller-scale delivery in fitness studios. Operators will need to keep their fingers on the pulse to find the next exciting thing that will engage people in their studio experiences.

We looked at holograms for Holy Ride, for example. In the end, the technology was still too expensive for our business model – for now anyway – but things like this will continue to come through and we need to be ready to embrace it.

“I believe indoor cycling will become increasingly experiential. There are still a lot of dark boxes at the moment!”

What drives you in all of this?

A business like ours isn’t based on spreadsheets or business models or trying make the most money possible. The only way to build a business like this is to do what you love, focus on what you can be really good at, add your own flavour – because a copy job will never, ever work – and then put your whole soul into it.

I love fitness – I train every day – and I love looking for new trends and creating new things. This is my passion and I love the fact that it’s also my job.

Shine Brunei


Her Royal Highness Princess Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah & Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Muda Bahar – Shine founders

Empowering a community

Why did you create Shine?

Boutique fitness is a global phenomenon, offering specialised, intimate spaces for working out and socialising. We used to live in London and took classes that were fun, inspiring and kept us fit. 

We believe people are now more motivated than ever to improve their wellness and become physically active, and we felt Brunei was ready for this boutique experience. 

We commissioned Barbara Chancey to guide us through the journey. Her team took our ideas and created two beautiful, functional spaces unlike anything in Brunei.

Shine X launched in June 2019, inspired by the boutique bootcamps

What was your vision?

Shine is about empowering people to live life to their full potential. Our vision was to create high-end boutique fitness studios with top-quality instructors and facilities. We wanted to build a brand that not only centres on a great workout but that also offers spaces that inspire people to adopt a positive, fun and energetic lifestyle. 

How would you describe the studios?

From the moment you walk through our doors, you’ll forget about the outside world and feel the positive energy and passion that fuel both Shine Cycle and Shine X. Every aspect of our studios is designed with meticulous detail to brighten your life. From our friendly front desk staff to our internationally trained instructors, we offer a high level of fitness so you can experience a higher level of success.

We offer fun and inspiring classes – something you can enjoy daily and look forward to the next workout – as we want to encourage and motivate people to make fitness a lifestyle. Led by our amazing instructors, our classes aim to make you feel as though you performed at your peak, with a little bit of euphoria that you can carry with you for the rest of your day.

The founders remain involved and hands-on in the day-to-day operations at Shine

We drew our inspiration from our own experiences of joining classes at other boutique fitness studios during our travels – from how uplifted and energised it made us feel. In those classes, we were pushed to our limits in a unique blend of fun, intensity and camaraderie. 

We felt Shine would be the best way to translate our love for fitness, delivering happiness through exercise and empowering people to be their best selves.

What are you most proud of?

What is particularly special is the community we have created. Incredible friendships have been forged that go beyond our studio walls. People bond through an unspoken support. We are proud and grateful to be part of an incredible community where people of all fitness levels can come together to radiate positive vibes and become stronger together.


“Incredible friendships have been forged that go beyond our studio walls. People bond through an unspoken support.”


How important is exercise to you?

Very important! We both play polo competitively and we also play other sports such as tennis and golf. For us to stay on top of our game, we need to stay fit, flexible and work on specific movements to develop our strength and prevent injury. Exercise is an integral part of our lives, benefiting us in our sports and in our health.

Shine has an incredibly strong community, with regular member events

What are your future plans for Shine?

We believe in doing one thing extremely well and we specialise in coaching creativity, class programming and special events to keep momentum strong. We also host guest instructors from the US, UK and Asia.

We are exploring new ideas which are top secret for now, but many surprises are on the way. Stay tuned!

Aiman Abdullah – Studio manager

Spreading happiness

When and why was Shine created?

When Shine Cycle opened its doors in February 2018, there was nothing else like it in Brunei. Even now, it’s the only true cycling boutique in the country.

Shine was founded by Her Royal Highness Princess Azemah Ni’matul Bolkiah and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Muda Bahar – Azemah and Bahar. The concept was theirs and they remain 100 per cent involved in the business every day, so only they can really elaborate on their vision for Shine. I do, however, know they enjoy this style of boutique training when they travel overseas and they wanted the Brunei population to be able to enjoy it too, raising the bar in our local fitness industry and supporting the health and wellbeing of the nation.

Shine Cycle is about the power of positive energy, and its world-class instructors lead the way

From the outset, Shine Cycle had two studios: Ride, which has 33 bikes; and Studio B, where we run small group strength classes of up to eight people, based around TRX but also incorporating assault bikes, rowers, boxing, kettlebells and other weights. 

A few months after launch, we also added yoga to the Studio B timetable, catering for a maximum of 11 people across three different styles of yoga. It means we can offer cardio, strength and flexibility all in one destination, with most members doing a bit of everything.

“Shine cycle is about positive energy. We believe that as your light shines brighter, you ignite that same power in others.”

Tell us about your community.

Shine Cycle is dedicated to helping its members achieve a healthy lifestyle through exercise and inspiration. It’s about training your body, focusing your mind and finding a new radiance inside and out. It’s about the power of positive energy: we believe that as your light shines brighter, you ignite that same power in others.

Immerse yourself in the Shine Cycle vibe in this video

And we see this in our community of around 300 members. Our reception team provides a warm welcome, our instructors motivate everyone in class, our space allows people to escape the stresses of everyday life, our customer service is consistently excellent… but it’s also our members who spur each other on to train regularly, making pacts to work out together the next day.

And members do attend very regularly: we run classes at 6:15am, 5:30pm and 6:45pm every day, plus some lunchtime classes, and many people come two or even three times a day, perhaps doing TRX in the morning and a cycle class in the afternoon.

Click here for a flavour of the workouts at Shine X

The absolute minimum we see is one or two visits a week, but that’s very rare. Generally it’s at least four or five visits a week, and most people come at least once or twice a day – so much so that when a member is heading out, we don’t say “goodbye”. We say “see you later” or “see you tomorrow”. 

Then you launched Shine X…

Shine X launched in June 2019, once again inspired by the workouts our founders were enjoying overseas – in this case, boutique bootcamps. Combining treadmill running and strength, each day’s workout focuses on a different body part: Monday is legs and abs, Tuesday is chest and back, Wednesday is full body and abs, and so on. 

The lighting at Shine X was designed by rock concert specialists

We have capacity for 19 people in our Shine X studio, although the 19th is ‘double tread’ – you don’t do weights. Some members want this, though, so we give them the option to specifically book that space. 

“Most people come at least once or twice a day, so we don’t say ‘Goodbye’ – we say ‘see you later’ or ‘see you tomorrow’”

Shine X is located just a few units away from Shine Cycle, and while some members just do Shine X, many combine Shine X and Shine Cycle, mixing and matching for a well-rounded workout routine. 

The Shine community regularly takes part in charity team events

Our Unlimited package covers Ride and Strength (TRX) only. You can also buy monthly Shine X-only packages. But if you want to do a bit of everything – Ride, Strength, Yoga and Shine X – you need to go for a Universal class package. 

What cycling classes do you offer?

Set to a soundtrack of great music, ours are rhythm cycling classes, with most following our signature 45-minute Shine programme: joyful, high-intensity, low-impact cardio parties that strengthen mind, body and soul. 

At Shine Cycle, Studio B offers yoga classes as well as small group strength workouts

We do have 30-minute class formats, but these are only used occasionally, such as during fasting months. At other times, our members tend to prefer 45-minute classes.

We have a Tag Team class every Saturday night, too, with two instructors up on stage and a great party atmosphere. There’s fancy dress, special themes and the rider of that week’s ‘lucky bike’ – chosen at random via a lottery draw – wins a prize. Tag Team is incredibly popular and always waitlisted.

“The studio timetable changes slightly each week to incorporate what members have told our instructors they want”

Then at least twice a month, we host a Custom Ride: a private class where the studio is rented out for a celebration such as a birthday ride. It’s basically a healthy disco!

All our programmes are designed by us, with templates outlining the overall shape of the class as well as suggested movements for a safe workout; we don’t go crazy in the saddle. But then we hand over to our instructors to bring their own style to each class. They’re the ones in the room with our members. They see what our members enjoy. They know who are beginners and who are more experienced. We give them the flexibility to choreography accordingly.

Don’t you wish your club did this? The Shine community takes part in The Shine Games

We also ask our instructors to help shape the studio timetable, which changes slightly each week to incorporate what members have told our instructors they want.

How do you train your instructors?

Our original team of master trainers all went to the US to train, and every new instructor – we now have a team of eight – goes to London to experience the studios there. But it doesn’t stop there, with regular visits to conferences and studios around the world, from London to Singapore, Malaysia to the Philippines. 

We also invite guest instructors to come in from overseas. They instruct classes for our team and spend time with our instructors, sharing knowledge and ideas. From this, our instructors can take away the elements they know will work in Brunei culture.

Shine trains instructors in other markets, too: we recently sent a team to train instructors in Singapore, for example. Our view is that this helps our instructors as much as it helps the people learning from them, furthering their own development.

So, ours is a constant learning and development process, with our instructor team both supported and empowered. As a result, only two instructors have ever left Shine and it was pretty unavoidable: one joined the army and one moved to Australia!

Shine regularly brings in guest instructors from overseas to continually coach and develop its own instructors

Tell us about Shine’s charity work.

There’s a strong social agenda at Shine, with a culture of giving to those in need and helping as much as we can.

Across the year, we host special classes that tie in with events like International Women’s Day, Breast Cancer Day, World Autism Awareness Day and so on. All proceeds from these special classes – and sometimes that whole day of classes – are then donated to a relevant NGO. We also have donation boxes around the club, sometimes for money, other times for things like unused shoes that we can distribute to rural areas.

“For us, success is asking our members what impact shine has had on their life and hearing how happy it makes them”

We also run Shine Community Challenges; we always try to get our members involved in our charity efforts rather than just making simple donations ourselves. Members form teams of two to four people and we set them challenges like ‘most classes in a month’. There’ll be a range of targets they can aim for, with Shine donating a set amount to charity for each target achieved. It’s a win-win-win: members stay active and feel involved in the good work, Shine benefits from even more regular attendance, and the charities benefit from the donations.

What plans for the future?

We take all member and instructor feedback onboard and continually try to make what we do even better. We were thinking about introducing barre classes before COVID, for example, so we may well do this now. 

In fact, our instructors are always coming up with new ideas: new equipment to keep things interesting in Studio B, for example. Our approach is to stay flexible and let our instructors take the lead: they know what our members want and they’re also incentivised to ensure every class is great, with commission paid per class attendee on top of their basic class fee.

Would we open another studio or even a new concept? Maybe – we discuss lots of ideas– but probably not yet. We pride ourselves on our customer service and quality of our instructors, so we’d need a really strong team in place to guarantee those same standards at any new location, all without letting levels drop at our original studio. We’d never expand at the expense of quality, and would certainly never franchise Shine.

What motivates you personally?

I get a real buzz from seeing people coming out of class having worked hard but also smiling and knowing they’ve achieved something. We’re helping people become better versions of themselves. 

For us, success is asking our members what impact Shine has had on their life and hearing how happy it makes them, how much they look forward to coming back, how we help them escape their daily stresses and provide a space where they don’t feel judged. 

I’m also inspired by our founders, who are constantly involved in the business, always looking for ways to make Shine an even better place not only for our members but for our team too.

Barbara Chancey – Studio designer & consultant

Designing a brand

Light and dark

“Design is storytelling, and both Shine Cycle and Shine X create journeys full of adventure and curiosity, incorporating a mix of materials and influences that evoke two opposite moods.

“At Shine Cycle, the brief was to create a sense of radiant joy. A place where your inner light shines to inspire the light in others. It’s a joyful and uplifting space: open and welcoming with touches of art deco modernism that nod to the client’s affinity for art, travel, design and appreciation of quiet details.

Shine X “reflects the journey we all go on in a workout, from dark doubts to bright accomplishments”

“Shine X is the direct opposite in both attitude and design: it’s the dark, mysterious, rebellious little sister that reflects the journey we all go on during a workout. From dark doubts to bright accomplishments, the design embraces both conflict and euphoria, incorporating recycled materials and reclaimed wood indigenous to Brunei’s rainforest.”

Lighting the way

“Shine’s illumination is designed to evoke emotion at the touch of a button, from soft candlelit moments of reflection to high-energy, grand finale sprints to the finish line.

“Daryl Vaughan of Light Partners – a lighting designer who’s worked with some of the biggest names in rock & roll, from Genesis and Paul McCartney to Sting, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones – created the lighting systems at Shine Cycle and Shine X.

Lighting is used creatively throughout the social spaces, as well as in the studios

“The starting point was weaving the brand into the lighting and working with Shine instructors to identify specific points in class where lighting changes might bring a sense of drama, a magical moment, something unexpected. We then developed a library of special effects and themes to be used at just the right moment; the magic happens when everything is seamless and timed to perfection.”

“We developed a library of lighting effects to be used at just the right moment; the magic happens when everything is timed to perfection.”

“Lighting is used creatively throughout the social spaces, too. The backlit, suspended X beams along the ceiling of the Shine X corridor are a personal favourite, where high-output LED fixtures produce slow pulses of light all along its length when class is about to start.” 

Shine X’s bootcamp classes combine treadmill running with strength

Social interaction

“In Brunei, there are no nightclubs or bars. Shine Cycle and Shine X fill this gap, providing healthy, fun entertainment. 

“At Shine Cycle, there’s a juice bar and café for laughter and hanging out, as well as a selfie wall. At Shine X, recessed alcoves along a darkened corridor provide discreet seating for more intimate conversations. In both cases, it’s about creating places to linger, social spaces that allow members to come early and stay late.

“All of a sudden, Shine Cycle and Shine X aren’t just about fitness. They’re about lifestyle. They’re about social interaction and the forging of friendships. And the resulting sense of community is evident when you look at events like the Shine Games, which perfectly illustrate the culture of kindness and joy that imbues everything at Shine.”

Flexible design

“We don’t just design for today: we imagine the future and design spaces to hold fitness trends for the next 10 years. 

“For example, Shine Cycle’s Studio B features a barre, built-in storage and reinforced walls and ceilings for anchoring equipment. It’s a versatile space that affords Shine total freedom to adapt to new trends, new instructors, new ideas.”

At Shine X, workouts are designed to train a different body part each day

Natural talent

“Your instructors should be allowed to retain an aura of superstardom, so at Shine, we included a dedicated space for instructors to get ready for class. When they come out, their star persona is in place and they’re ready to command the room and deliver.

“I’ve been amazed by the level of showmanship at Shine. I’ve never come across a more naturally talented group of instructors. Musicality is in their blood.

“Nor have I ever met a group of instructors who take what they do more seriously: they truly see it as a profession. We brought them to the US for training with Parker Williams, a legendary veteran of rhythm rides with 20 years’ experience. He encouraged them to take it back to basics, focusing on technique, consistency in language and meeting their clientele where they were: at the beginning of a journey, having never known anything like rhythm cycling before.”

Spreading joy

“The princess is hugely creative, with an infectious sense of humour, and we had a lot of fun along the way. One great memory was developing names for the juice bar menu, with Diplomatic Immunity one of my favourites!

“Her generosity and gratitude epitomise the essence of Shine. This was a joyful project to work on, surrounded by some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.”

Recovery at work

What is Training Stress Score?

Training Stress Score (TSS) is something I invented in 2002 in collaboration with Dr Andrew Coggan. It’s a composite number that takes into account the duration and intensity of a workout to arrive at a single estimate of the overall training load and physiological stress created by that training session. 

Put another way, it quantifies the training stress on your body after a workout and is applicable to power-based cycling or rowing. [For a briefing on power training, see RIDE HIGH issue 16.]

“TSS lets you track the cumulative stress of each workout on your body to ensure you’re resting enough”

It was a measure I knew I needed to help my athletes accurately understand how hard each workout was compared to others. I also knew I could use this data to shape a plan to peak them at exactly the right moment for big events. Dr Coggan provided the science! 

Instructors will sometimes need to ‘fake it’ in the saddle rather than hitting all the %FTPs in class

Why is it important?

Before we invented TSS, kilojoules (kJ) – how much energy you burned – were used to quantify the stress of a ride. The problem with this was, it didn’t acknowledge ride intensity: you can ride for longer at a lower intensity and burn the same kJ, but the physiological stress on your body will be nowhere near the same. 

TSS gives a far more accurate picture of how much stress you can create. Most important of all, it lets you cumulatively track this stress, allowing you to build a picture of your chronic training load (the cumulation of everything you did between 15 days and six weeks ago, and with it your overall fitness) and acute training load (your workouts over the last two weeks, and with it your current fatigue) to understand the Training Stress Balance in your body today.

This information, in particular the chronic training load, tells you exactly when you should push hard in training and when you should rest. It allows you to continually strike a good balance between fitness (which results from training stress) and freshness (which results from rest) to keep improving – and, where relevant, to hit top form for your event.

As an indoor cycling instructor, it allows you to track the cumulative stress of each workout on your body to ensure you’re resting enough – most injuries are down to insufficient recovery – without losing fitness. 

TSS is scaleable, meaning pros like Bradley Wiggins will score 100 for an hour at FTP, the same as a deconditioned rider

How do you calculate TSS?

As I say, TSS takes into account both workout duration and intensity, with intensity based on the individual’s FTP (functional threshold power).

The easiest way to understand TSS is that you score 100 points if you go as hard as you can – that is, if you cycle at your personal FTP – for an hour. From that benchmark, it’s easy to relate it to other workouts.

“After six weeks of instructing two cycling classes a day, your chronic training load could be 160: the same as a pro at the end of the Tour de France!”

Basing it on FTP makes it scaleable, too: Bradley Wiggins cycles at his super-high FTP for an hour and gets a score of 100. A deconditioned individual cycles at their 80-watt FTP for an hour and gets a score of 100. All you need is an accurate personal FTP.

Some software – such as TrainingPeaks, which you can download as an app – works out the TSS of each ride for you, and there are a few bikes that include this score on their console. If you don’t have access to that, though, it isn’t too hard to calculate the TSS of a ride yourself. 

The equation is TSS = {[(duration (s) x normalized power (W)) x IF]/(threshold power x 3600 s)} x100 – but don’t be put off by how it looks, as it isn’t actually that complicated! 

Even just two classes a day, if cycled ‘properly’, can lead an instructor to max out and increase their risk of illness and injury

First, take the workout duration in seconds and multiply that by normalised power (which in the context of studio cycling is almost always average wattage), then multiply all that by the intensity factor (see end of this article: What do we mean by intensity factor?) This is the only bit of guesstimating you’ll need to do, as this figure won’t be in your bike. However, you can get a pretty good idea of the intensity factor simply by dividing your average power (wattage) throughout the class by your personal functional threshold power. 

“As a basic guideline, I’d advise that if your chronic training load hits 115, you need to rest. That could just mean taking it easy in class.”

You then divide this figure by your personal FTP x 3600 (seconds, to get it up to an hour). Finally, multiply all that by 100 – just because we wanted to present scores as full numbers!

What does TSS mean in practice?

If your score is less than 150, we categorise that as low stress – that is, it should be relatively easy to recover from that workout by the following day. Note that recovery is not the same as being totally fresh: you may still have sore muscles. However, it’s likely you could produce the same effort again the next day, or at least get very close to it. This is how we define recovery.

A score of 150–300 is medium stress: you should have recovered by the second day. High stress is TSS 300–450, where residual fatigue is likely to be around for a few days at least. And then epic is a TSS of more than 450, and here you’re looking at anything from a few days to a few weeks before you can get on the bike and do the same again. The muscular soreness might be gone, but your cardiovascular system still needs more time to recover.

Hunter Allen is a world-leading endurance coach and power training expert

You talk about cumulative load…

Yes, and this is where TSS becomes really valuable. Let’s move away from elite road racing examples and focus purely on indoor cycling instructors to bring this to life.

Every single ride has its own TSS; a typical hour-long indoor cycling class – with its sprints and climbs but also its recovery sections – will have a score of around 65–90. So, let’s say TSS 80 as a rough average.

Now let’s assume an indoor cycling instructor teaches a class a day. Six weeks later, their chronic training load is 80. That’s do-able. Even TSS 100 a day is do-able. Your body adapts to training stress after all – it’s how we get fitter – and a load of 80–100 is a moderate yet solid level of stress. 

But what if they’re instructing two cycling classes a day – not uncommon – and they’re cycling them ‘properly’, by which I mean they’re in the saddle hitting all the %FTPs they’re telling the class to hit. Do that every day for six weeks and all of a sudden, chronic training load is 160 (plus any other workouts they happen to be doing).

Now let’s consider that cycling pros, when they reach the end of the Tour de France, have a chronic training load of 160–180 – and then they rest!

Now we can begin to understand why indoor cycling instructors get injured or sick when they’re doing too many classes, and why it doesn’t actually take much for class load to tip over into being too much.

Indoor cycling instructor at event Velthoven
Instructors must learn to rest, including taking it easier in the saddle during class

So, when does an instructor need to rest?

First things first, as an instructor, you should absolutely be logging the TSS of every class you instruct, so you build up an accurate picture of your chronic training load (CTL). You then listen to your body and identify what your CTL is when you feel you can’t perform any more. As soon as you see yourself approaching this number in the future, you know you need to start thinking about building in some rest.

“Remember it’s about chronic training load: one day off doesn’t immediately undo the last six weeks of effort”

As a basic guideline, I’d advise that if your chronic training load hits 115 – if you add up the TSS of all your rides over the last six weeks, divide by 42 to get an average daily score, and that average is 115 or more – you need to rest. 

(Note: Specialist software will weight more recent workouts higher than workouts six weeks ago. However, for the purposes of simplicity, calculating an average daily TSS as above will suffice.)

Rest could mean taking it easy in class, whether that’s ‘faking it’ rather than actually cranking it up in the saddle, or getting off the bike and walking the studio floor to offer encouragement and motivation.

It could mean taking a break altogether, if schedules allow. But even here, remember that it’s about chronic training load: one day off doesn’t immediately undo the last six weeks of effort.

Intensity factorRead more: Hunter’s previous RIDE HIGH article – on why he believes indoor cycling classes should always be based on power – can be found here.


Tour de Force

Kenneth Muhs

Kenneth Muhs

Mayor, Nyborg City Council

What was Nyborg’s role in the 2022 Tour de France?

The second leg of the Tour finished in Nyborg, so our city welcomed the riders as they crossed the line on 2 July, having cycled the 202km from Roskilde. 

It was a huge honour for Nyborg: ours is a municipality of just 32,000 inhabitants, so to be involved in one of the world’s greatest sporting events was exceptionally special for us.

And it wasn’t just about us, either: it was about the whole of Denmark, with the country as a whole awarded this year’s Grand Départ. As a result, five cities across Denmark hosted the first three stages of this year’s Tour.

Why did Nyborg want to be part of it?

First of all, as I say, it was a great honour. Beyond this, however, there were – and will hopefully continue to be – very practical benefits of having been involved.

The boost to our local businesses, for example. We have a lot of accommodation in our city, and our hotels and campsites were in high demand from the moment our involvement in the Tour was announced in 2019. In turn, other local businesses – shops, restaurants, cafés and so on – also benefited.

Then there’s the long-term impact on tourism. The Tour de France is aired in 190 countries around the world, which gave us a wonderful platform to present a ‘postcard’ of Nyborg – showing off our city, our history, our culture and hopefully tempting people to visit.

Tour de France Denmark
Events included a special yellow jersey group cycling class (Photo: Frislev Film)

What did the day involve?

It wasn’t just about race day, in fact, or even just about cycling: there were lots of sporting, cultural and educational events in the lead-up to 2 July. 

We had local schools learning about France, for example, and businesses putting yellow bikes all around the city. There was also a sold-out family-friendly event on 11 June where 16,000 amateur cyclists rode some or all of the Tour de France leg from Roskilde to Nyborg.

Nyborg hosted lots of sporting, cultural and educational events in the lead-up to 2 July (Photos: Nyborg Municipality)

But the day itself was of course very special, with Nyborg welcoming more than 80,000 visitors including HRH the Crown Prince of Denmark. 

Obviously not everyone was able to stand at the finishing line, so we had 12 event zones across the city where people could watch the race on a big screen, enjoying music, food and activities too. We closed many of the roads in the city centre, turning it into a big festival.

“The Tour de France is aired in 190 countries, giving us a wonderful platform to present a ‘postcard’ of Nyborg”

We had cultural activities too: archery, for example, because ours is a historic city with a castle. And then in the evening we had a big party and concert. 

All our council-organised events were free, but we also allocated space to local organisations to run their own events, which they could charge for if they wished. We had football clubs hosting fan-zones, for example, and a BODY BIKE group cycling class.

For us, these independent events were an important part of the story. We set the stage and supported them with some infrastructure, but the success of the day wasn’t purely down to us: everyone came together to create something very special, and it looked amazing when the TV helicopters flew overhead and saw it all happening. 

Tour de France nyborg
The cycling class took place over seven hours, with friends sharing the ride so everyone got to enjoy it (Photos: Frislev Film)

What did all this cost Nyborg?

We paid 10 million Danish Krone for the rights to be part of the Tour and spent a further 5.9 million on infrastructure and events across the city – so a total budget of 15.9 million Danish Krone (approximately €2.15m).  

Was it worth it? Absolutely, even if you just look at the reach and impact of the publicity for our city. To reach an audience of that size, and in so many countries across the globe, we’d quickly have spent that much – and more – on commercials, brochures, PR and so on. 

And that’s without factoring in the immediate boost to local businesses or the sense of pride across our city, which is impossible to put a price on.

Danmark - Nyborg - Torvet 25/06/2022 Børnetouren i Nyborg
Nyborg organised Tour de France-themed events for citizens of all ages (Photo: Nyborg Municipality)

Have you done anything like this before?

It was the first time Nyborg had ever done something on this scale, but it proves that we can.

Whether cycling fans or not, we had strong support from residents across the city: there was a huge sense of pride and a powerful coming together, including a large number of volunteers who gave their time to show the world what great hosts we could be. 

A key aspect of our Tour legacy will therefore be the learnings we’ve drawn and the foundations we now have in place to host similar events in the future. Nyborg may be a small city, but we have big ambitions!

Jesper Jas
Experience the buzz of the yellow jersey group cycling event in this video!

Jesper ‘JAS’ Sørensen

Co-organiser, BODY BIKE event

Tell us about your event…

As soon as I knew the Tour was coming to Denmark, I wanted to get involved. I have a long history of organising mass indoor cycling events, so I teamed up with Berit Kolding Wedel of Nyborg Family and Company Sport, a local NGO, to organise a seven-hour cycling event which took place just 300 metres from Nyborg’s Tour de France finishing line.

We had seven hour-long slots, each with its own instructors, and then we had ‘wingmen’ on-stage next to them to create a strong presence: there were five or six people cycling on-stage at all times, all dressed in the famous Tour de France-style yellow jerseys. 

“We had five or six people cycling on-stage at all times, all dressed in Tour de France-style yellow jerseys”

The brief to all our instructors was simple: make it a party with great music and a great vibe. And don’t make the workout too hard, because quite a lot of people are going to be cycling the full seven hours!

We had a big screen in front of the bikes so participants could follow the Tour while they rode, but mostly people were absorbed in their own ride with our instructors. It was really only in the last hour or so of the race, when we could hear the helicopters following the Tour approaching the city, that people began to focus more on the screen.

Danmark - Nyborg - 02/07/2022 Tour de France i Nyborg
BODY BIKE and Fitness Engros provided the bikes for the special group cycling class (Photo: Nyborg Municipality)

How many people took part?

We had 75 BODY BIKES and about 250 participants. Somewhere between 10 and 15 people did the full seven hours of cycling, but most people switched in and out with friends so everyone could enjoy an hour or two.

For the last two hours, we made it compulsory for all participants – as well as the instructors on-stage – to wear the yellow jerseys we provided as part of the ticket price. 

What was the atmosphere like?

It was incredible. Everyone was smiling, the weather was perfect – sunny but not too hot and with a lovely breeze – and the music was pumping. We were just one small part of a huge celebration across the city, but you could hear our event from kilometres away!

We could hear the shouting of the Tour supporters near the finishing line too, which added to the buzz.

“I’ve organised a lot of cycling events in my life, but this really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience”

The whole event was just so happy and positive. When we finished, participants told us – and continued to tell us on social media – that it was a historically great event. I’ve organised a lot of cycling events in my life, but this really was a one-off. Everyone was on a real high.

Thousands of people came to watch what we were doing throughout the seven hours, too, feeling the energy and following our progress. Local newspapers were taking photos. It was such a great advert for indoor cycling.

Jesper Jas Sørensen, Berit Kolding Wedel Co-organiser Tour de france nyborg indoor cycling event
Co-organiser Berit Kolding Wedel joins Sørensen for a celebratory photo

How will you look back on this?

Across Denmark, there was a massive focus on making the Tour de France one big party, with armies of volunteers coming together to make it a success. Support for the race itself was also huge, with around a third of the Danish population turning out on the Tour de France route to watch the race go past. 

Running our cycling event as part of this… It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and just the most incredible experience.

Future-proofed instructors

Tash Marshall Bean

Founder, Authentic Instructor Training Inc.

Delivery methods have no doubt diversified within indoor cycling, encouraging all of us to keep learning, growing and challenging ourselves. 

Yet particularly as our sector re-opens from the pandemic, bringing a wave of new clients into fitness, I believe it’s critically important that we take classes back to basics; while we’ve all had time to research our trade, now may not be the best time to introduce all sorts of next-level moves into your classes. 

Indoor cycling event Velthoven
“People fall in love with riding together to the beat of great music,” says Marshall Bean

As an instructor, your role is to make every participant feel successful, but I’m currently seeing far too many instructors making things too complicated for their riders and leaving people behind. So, my first observation from an education perspective: instructors must (re)learn how to integrate new riders with well-versed riders to maintain client success. Practise next-level choreography at home or post-class with fellow instructors, but only slowly introduce new moves and combos so you build your class together.

“our instructors learn to ‘tap’ every song using a BPM app so they know how to use it in class”

Second, let’s be honest, very few people fall in love with a stationary bike. They fall in love with the experience of riding together to the beat of incredible music in an inclusive community. It’s why we love doing music workshops – because, from boutique studios to big box gyms, music is key to instructors scaling up their class experiences.

All the instructors we train learn to ‘tap’ every song – using a BPM app – to register the beat. Once they have the BPM, our tempo guidelines tell them how and where that track could be used in class. Only then do we look at musical rhythms, big beat drops and lyrical connection to give their riders goosebumps.

Next, teach instructors to be comfortable on camera: they’re going to need it in this hybrid world. Our experience is that instructing online is harder than in-person, so we actually train people to deliver online first. This builds a solid foundation before we move on to in-person.

Tash Marshall Bean
Tash Marshall Bean shows cycling instructor trainees how it’s done

Online instruction requires a very different skillset from in-person to ensure those on the other side of the screen feel engaged and seen. At a minimum, your energy should be at least 25 per cent higher online, with a good balance struck between showing great technique on the bike and being off-bike, connecting with clients individually and checking their form.  

Finally, my firm belief is that you can’t teach someone to be an elite indoor cycling instructor in eight hours alone. There are so many levels to creating a great experience, and it takes time to build people’s confidence to get out there and deliver. I’d like to see a governing body in place to monitor the industry and ensure consistent standards are maintained.   

Yet however much indoor cycling evolves, I believe one requirement remains unchanged: whether newly qualified or highly experienced, instructors must forge a genuine connection with their customers, and that requires an ongoing focus on building next-level engagement skills. Emma Barry said it best: “If clients like you, they’ll leave you. If they love you, they’ll stay.”  



Noël Nocciolo

Cycle master trainer, boutique thought leader, consultant

Noël Nocciolo

Big box gyms must decide if they wish to be known for great instructor talent. With other departments competing for budget, this is not always the case. If they do, a new approach to investment is required, countering the lure of high-promising boutique studios by rewarding talent financially and investing in continuing education, hosting regular workshops for free or at a reduced price.

Meanwhile, boutiques must move away from the ‘one big training pre-opening only’ approach, and/or knee-jerk training only when competition arises, instead investing in regular growth and mentorship. Talent is the product; riders may come for the luxe amenities, but they stay for the connection forged in class by the instructor. Internal curricula and continued up-levelling of skills has never been more essential.

But what should that continuing education look like? For me, nothing will replace quality continued education that’s rooted in exercise science, evolving over time with new research and conclusions and not adding a move just because it was seen on Instagram. Alongside this, however, as gyms and studios increasingly compete for riders’ time, money and attention – including at-home – instructors must also hone their training for personality, vibe and inclusion.

“When coaching those unfamiliar with power training, I show the impact of efficient pedal-stroke speeds even when still riding to the music they love”

I myself hit the jackpot in that I completed the entire SoulCycle instructor training in 2011: less about anatomy and physiology, more about music manipulation, energy and performance. I then took the Schwinn Classic certification the following year with Rachel Buschert Vazaralli, who blew my mind with her personality and musicality when delivering scientific principles. She made pure riding fun: on the beat as well as with a purpose. Both sides of that training coin have helped immensely in the way I’ve delivered education myself since 2014, showing how every style of cycling class can be made captivating and ‘entertraining’.

Soulcycle, Noël Nocciolo
Nocciolo completed SoulCycle’s instructor training as well as the Schwinn Classic certification

As co-creator of PEP For FitPros, I also believe the way we use our voices is key to being captivating and ‘entertraining’. In our course, we teach instructors to preserve their voices and protect their careers, but also to authentically differentiate themselves vocally from other coaches. Personality, energy and attitude can all be traced back to how we use our voices healthily and as performers: screaming on microphones, losing our voices and risking longer-term voice injury are out; compelling coaching is in.

My training always supports technology too. When coaching those unfamiliar with power training, I aim to get a demo bike with a power meter to tangibly show the impact of efficient pedal-stroke speeds, even when still riding to the music they love and whose beats they want to ride.

Indoor cycling instructor
Instructors must learn to differentiate themselves vocally, says Nocciolo

In short, I like to see continuing education as a buffet we take from and budget for annually, taking the best of the certifications, and the best of the internal trainings and performance workshops, to help new and veteran instructors to grow and become more rounded. I’m interested in what we can add to our educational lives rather than take away.



Zack Schares

Fitness consultant & talent agent

Zack Schares

As indoor cycling evolves, there are many instructors – whether newly qualified or in it for years – who are looking to upskill to meet the emerging, predominantly boutique-driven expectation of a true performance in the saddle. 

It’s why I run multi-weekend instructor training workshops that dedicate a full weekend to getting each participant up on the podium, running a class and taking feedback. I want everyone to really understand what it takes to be up there, engaging the room, being a great coach and mentor rather than just a good rider.

“Lack of leadership is the greatest impediment to us having the instructor workforce we need”

I also encourage people to find their own style; it’s not about going online and watching the top brands and influencers, then trying to copy them. It’s great to be inspired by others, but these brands do so much behind the scenes to lead people in the way they do. It simply doesn’t work if you try and copy them. You have to find your own style.

If you want to run a studio yourself, you also have to be a great leader. You have to set your team up for success.

I’ve sadly seen too many examples of instructors leaving their employers to set up on their own, thinking they can do better but without any strong leadership skills. Their mindset isn’t right: they push to make it all happen quickly, putting pressure on their teams, so focused on doing better than the local competition that they haven’t properly thought through how they want to run their own businesses, build their own brands, lead their own teams.

Indoor cycling workout
Schares encourages all his students to find their own style, rather than trying to copy online influencers

Meanwhile, head instructors don’t really know how to manage those teams, especially when they’re filled with creative types as instructors tend to be. 

I believe this lack of leadership is the greatest impediment to us having the instructor workforce we need, which is why leadership is the focus of my new workshop. I believe this is the most important way in which education can evolve to give us the indoor cycling instructors we need. 

Launching in September in Mexico City, I’ll be delivering the workshop in partnership with Christopher Chandler from The Nutrition School – a specialist in health and life coaching. With a basic premise that strong leadership starts from within, we’ll define what leadership means at different levels of a business and cover topics such as building credibility and trust, giving feedback, problem solving, empowerment and effective listening.

Zack Schares
Head instructors need to know how to lead their creative teams, says Schares

We recommend that at least two people attend from each organisation – owner, head coach, instructor – so teams can take away their shared learnings and grow together.

I believe this workshop has the potential to make a real difference. I believe the instructor workforce we need will result from strong leaders setting that workforce up for success.



Jennifer Sage

Founder, Indoor Cycling Association

I have enough to say on this topic that I could fill pages! Instead, I’m going to deep dive into how in-person and online education can combine to produce the highest quality instructors.

During lockdown, we saw an explosion of online training courses, certifications and virtual classes. Yet for me, the hands-on guidance of in-person education – so valuable especially when just setting out as an instructor – is hard to replicate online. I firmly believe original certifications should be delivered live. 

Where online can add real value is in continuing education – something many studios didn’t insist on pre-pandemic for cost reasons. Online is a cost-effective way to broaden knowledge: while your primary certification should be on the bikes you teach on, you can upskill by taking online courses from other providers.

It’s important to understand power, whether your bikes have meters or not, says Sage

Online courses, e-books and indoor cycling membership sites can also be excellent ways to enhance your knowledge of cycling science, technique, coaching and cueing, communication skills, motivation, power training, profile design, sourcing music, using the power of music to match the message of your profile, working with older or less fit riders, teaching virtual classes and so on.

Indeed, more complex subjects such as exercise physiology and teaching with power are arguably better studied online, simply because of the ability to repeat the content.

And even virtual cycling classes, while not a course per se, are a fabulous way to improve your coaching skills. Subscribe to your favourite master instructor’s virtual rides and write down their inspirational cues. It’s not much different from being at a conference!

“Expand your knowledge of the science of cycling, not just the entertainment aspect. You’ll become a more rounded instructor.”

But proceed with caution: there are some very poor instructors out there sharing sub-standard ‘education’. Thoroughly vet your sources and be wary of free content. Just because it’s popular, doesn’t make it good. 

Other tips for online education include ensuring it’s based on proper exercise science. Seek to expand your knowledge of the science of cycling, not just the entertainment aspect that’s so popular at the moment. You’ll become a more rounded instructor who can create classes with a purpose and more confidently answer riders’ questions. 

Look for a course on teaching with power. Even if you don’t have power meters on your bikes, you’re still producing it. When you understand the elements of producing power (cadence and resistance/force), you’ll have solid foundations to create safe, effective classes that produce results for your riders.

Study virtual indoor cycling classes
Study the virtual classes of your favourite instructors and note their inspirational cues, advises Sage (photo: Siclo)

Seek courses in teaching across the entire intensity spectrum, so you don’t fall into the common trap of only ever teaching high-intensity intervals. Consider taking a course or reading a book on working with elderly riders. Seek courses in how to be an empowering, motivational, inspirational, engaging instructor (riders will flock to your classes!)

Finally, when choosing your online courses, ideally find someone with prior experience of training instructors in-person – they will have a greater understanding of relaying information than someone who’s never taught live workshops – and make sure there’s a way to contact them with questions. Check they provide transcripts and/or handouts, too. 

Done well, online continuing education can play a major role in improving the quality of our instructor workforce.



Louise Ager

Fitness education consultant

In Denmark, the last couple of years has seen a shift away from specialist cycling classes – larger timetables of differentiated classes catering specifically for beginners versus intermediates versus the ‘go hard or go home’ brigade – and towards smaller timetables of signature classes where the instructor has to try and cater for all levels and needs in one class.

This is particularly evident at larger gym chains, and for me it’s a great shame. Of course, I appreciate the desire to deliver consistent experiences. I appreciate that many instructors are sadly not sufficiently qualified nor experienced to choreograph their own excellent workouts – I’ll come on to that in a minute. I appreciate that having too many cycling classes on the timetable may mean they aren’t all full. 

We should let instructors be true to themselves and focus on their strengths, says Ager

However, I believe we must offer diversity in class styles to bring a broader audience to indoor cycling: classes for beginners, for overweight people, for seniors, for endurance enthusiasts, for those short of time, for fans of different music genres. The more generic the experience, the less likely you are to really engage someone.

Education has a major role to play here. Five to 10 years ago, cycling certifications in Denmark took between five and eight weeks to complete. Now many have dropped to three to five days – a dramatically condensed timeframe that I believe offers little scope to explore the wide range of possible class styles. I think this is a major contributor to the shortage of really good cycling instructors now, and in turn to the timetables clubs can deliver.

“I’d like to see certifications take longer again, to allow new instructors to really get into the detail of different class types and audience needs”

I’d like to see certifications take longer again – 50–70 hours as a guideline – to allow new instructors to really get into the detail of different class types and audience needs. Newer topics like technology and online delivery need to be covered too, and there must be plenty of time for practice in the saddle. New instructors have to learn how to capture an audience.

They must then continue to develop themselves, attending workshops to keep building on their initial certification, fine-tuning their craft and getting better and better at engaging people, making it fun, reading the mood of the room and instantly adapting to it in their delivery and even the shape of the ride itself. Mastery is an ongoing process.

Put bluntly, we need to make instructors good enough again that they don’t have to rely on templates. We need to push standards back up. 

Indoor cycling event Louise Ager indoor cycling instructor
Instructor training should explore numerous styles of class, says Ager, and this requires more time (photo: Boom Cycle/UFB)

We must then let instructors be true to themselves, focusing on whatever they’re really good at and the audiences they’re really good with. They don’t have to be able to do it all – being different is good – but they do need to be better at delivering whatever they choose to specialise in. 

Of course, the next step is educating studio managers and supervisors to start scheduling for a broader audience, with targeted classes that have a purpose and an intentional audience. This will be a process, but I do believe it’s the right thing to do.


Angela Reed-Fox

Course director, Indoor Cycling Institute

Angela Reed-Fox

I believe the quickest, easiest way to upgrade a cycling studio experience is not through hardware, but through supporting instructors to improve their knowledge and skills.

Let’s start with technology. With the growth in wearables, riders are now far more informed about their bodies’ response to exercise. Instructors must upgrade their knowledge accordingly; weaving things like heart rate into a workout, boosting effectiveness for riders who have that tech, is easy to do without cluttering your instruction if you know how. The same goes for bikes with accurate power meters: instructors must upskill to design and deliver effective sessions.

Because ‘effective’ matters: people want fun, but they also want results, and just pedalling on a bike isn’t guaranteed to deliver them. I spent 10 years as a nurse and met so many people who felt they’d tried everything and nothing had worked. Instructors must learn to design and deliver sessions with specific goals rather than just filling 45 minutes, helping gyms build a reputation for quality.

“Instructors must learn to design sessions with specific goals, rather than just filling 45 minutes”

With a growing incidence of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other lifestyle conditions, there must also be more emphasis on closing the gap between fitness and health. Done well, indoor cycling is safe and accessible for a large proportion of the population, so instructors must be trained to recognise this – and to instruct in a way that attracts, retains and boosts results for this wider cohort. This will include effective communication: nurturing, challenging and encouraging people rather than just shouting.

Indoor cycling class
Re-train in the basics, such as using people’s names, says Reed-Fox

Safety is also key. I see the same mistakes being repeatedly made by instructors who don’t understand – or have forgotten – the basics about resistance, cadence and the safe interplay between the two. That’s a massive training issue and can easily lead to (avoidable) injuries and even litigation. Instructors must be able to lead safely and spot unsafe cycling in class.

They must also remember – even be (re)trained in – the basics of customer service: arrive first, leave last, know names, address riders by them. As remote offerings proliferate, every gym must identify where they can excel over online and really go for it. Community and camaraderie will be crucial. 

BODY BIKE indoor cycling app
Riders are hi-tech these days; instructors must upgrade their knowledge too

I also think there’s a growing and overdue need for studio management and lead instructor training. It doesn’t require much, but they should certainly know how to maintain safety and best practice, how to recruit and support instructors, what to keep an eye out for. As tech and bikes become more advanced, and riders come to expect more, this is becoming a discrete set of responsibilities that needs to be covered within training.

Indoor cycling
Cycling is accessible to all fitness levels, provided instructors know how to coach appropriately

Finally, many instructors just want to excel at indoor cycling: the discipline is heading into its own space, and that’s entirely right. I believe it’s outdated to expect instructors to also have a certificate in gym instructing, PT or exercise to music. Cycling shouldn’t be CPD on top of one of those qualifications. Rather, there should be regularly updated, indoor cycling CPD on top of a dedicated, entry-level indoor cycling certificate.

Legend has it

When you have two group exercise legends in one room, well, it would have been rude not to have popped them in front of the camera to hear their recollections of the last 25 years of indoor cycling.

Clear your diary for the next seven and a half minutes and watch as Emma Barry and Steven Renata share not only their memories and anecdotes, but also their predictions for what happens next in the world of indoor cycling.

Emma Barry and Steven Renata
Emma Barry and Steven Renata discuss indoor cycling past, present and future

We’re talking metaverse, data, the sport of fitness and the quest for joy.That’s quite some leap forward from the stories they share of wheeling bikes in and out of a multi-purpose aerobics studio.

Oh, and thanks to Steven for the shout-out for RIDE HIGH, now officially “the world’s biggest cycle club”. Love it!


“this video is what it’s all about. This is what sets indoor cycling apart. This is why the world needs to ride.”

– So says Uffe A Olesen, CEO of BODY BIKE International. Click on the link below to soak in the vibe of the event and see why he’s still buzzing in its aftermath…

BODY BIKE INTERNATIONAL 25 year celebration velthoven

Bebe Ding

What was the inspiration for CRU?
Ten years ago, when we first came up with the idea for CRU, there was nothing else like it in Singapore. In fact, there was no fitness sector to speak of: the only things to do in Singapore were shopping, the cinema or the one nightclub that everyone went to every single weekend!

However, my siblings – Valerie and Calvin – and I had grown up between Singapore and California. In fact, we were students in Los Angeles when, inspired by the likes of SoulCycle, Calvin and I separately came up with the idea of launching our own studio.

“Being siblings determines how we run the company. The sense of community runs deep. Our family values are why our brand is so strong.”

We had become addicted to the ‘party on a bike’ vibe and we qualified as indoor cycling instructors, initially just so we could keep doing that style of training in our own workouts. However, we knew we wanted to bring something fun to Singapore, Valerie came on-board too and CRU was born.

Calvin, Bebe and Valerie Ding founded CRU in Singapore in 2014

How would you describe CRU?
CRU is more than just boutique fitness, more than just physical locations. It’s a lifestyle brand: a culmination of music, fitness and lifestyle. Crucially, it’s also about family and community – what we call our wolfpack.

We launched with rhythm cycling in 2014, opening our first CruCycle studio at 68 Duxton Road, Singapore. Our intention was always to expand into more concepts across multiple studios, though, with a growth mindset that’s encapsulated in our name: CRU. ‘Cru’ draws from the French language, where in the world of wines it relates to top quality production growth; for us, it represents our ethos of organic spiritual, mental and physical growth.

Our second studio opened in Los Angeles in 2017: a boxing concept launched under the CruBox brand. As with CruCycle, and indeed all our programmes since, the workout was set to the beat of the music and quickly became a success story, leading us to open CruBox in Singapore – in the same building as our first CruCycle – in 2019.

In 2021, we opened a new flagship on Orchard Road, in the heart of Singapore, bringing us to three locations in the city. This time we had two studios in one location: a CruCycle studio and a multi-purpose studio offering CruYoga and CruHIIT.

Alongside our physical studios sits our CRU TV digital platform and CRU TV Bike, while over the years we’ve also launched things like merchandise and a lifestyle blog.

Tell us about the wolfpack.
The wolfpack is our community, as I say, and that’s what we’re all about at CRU: a sense of family, of familiar faces. We believe that through togetherness, we’re able to achieve so much more than we would be able to achieve alone. In our workouts, you follow the Pack Leader – the instructor – to grow as a pack and become stronger together.

“CRU is synonymous with indoor cycling in Singapore and it’s still at the heart of what we do, even as we expand into more concepts”

We have a wide demographic age-wise, although our core audience is around 25–40 years old, but we do sit at the premium end of the market. We charge S$45 for a single class and S$400 for a 10-pack across all disciplines, so we have a fairly affluent customer base – generally CEOs and those in other senior positions who are looking for an hour’s respite from long days at their desks.

We do cater for all levels, but at the same time ours are known to be the toughest workouts in town. It’s back to CRU’s wolfpack mentality: people come to push themselves.

And our instructors reflect our customer profile: aged 24–46 years, a good number of them originally came to us as customers.

Incidentally, the notion of the wolfpack was also inspired by our love of dogs. All three of us each have a pet husky – the silhouette in the CRU logo – and the communal areas of our studios are dog-friendly. In 2019, we even launched a PUPS at CRU sub-brand selling all-natural dog treats and toys!

What are your USPs?
Singapore is fairly conservative, but the way we do things at CRU is more relaxed, friendly, open-minded, comfortable: people call it the ‘CRU Swag’. It’s just that bit more outspoken and daring than you get elsewhere in Singapore, influenced by our US upbringing.

We train all our instructors to think out of the box, pushing themselves out of their own comfort zones to interact with our customers in new ways – cheering, clapping and so on. And people respond very positively: CRU becomes the one place they let go and experience a real sense of release.

“Singapore is fairly conservative, but the way we do things at CRU is more relaxed. People refer to our vibe as the ‘CRU Swag’.”

Quality of instruction is another USP. It tends to be that instructors work their way up to becoming a CRU instructor. Ours is their ultimate, aspirational destination – once they reach us, they stay with us – but even then, every CRU instructor goes through at least eight weeks of training, 15 hours a week, before they take a class. We also design all our own programming. Quality is a CRU hallmark across the board.

Underpinning all of this, we’ve simply been doing this a long time now. We know who we are and what we’re doing. Our riders have grown with us, we’ve pushed our programming to challenge them and we’ve played the long game. CRU is now synonymous with indoor cycling in Singapore. It’s also still at the heart of what we do, even as we expand into more concepts. In fact, we’re often referred to as the O.G. – Original Gangsta – brand!

CruBox originally launched in Los Angeles before also opening in Singapore

Last but not least, our sibling relationship is key. We were kids when we started out, in our early 20s, and we stepped on each others’ toes. But blood is thicker than water and our close relationship now underpins CRU’s sense of community. Being siblings determines how we run the company, which influences how our instructors feel about working for us, which influences customer perceptions. The sense of community runs deep. Our family values are why our brand is so strong.

How did COVID impact CRU?
In 2020, in response to COVID, we started creating our own content so customers could train at home. It started off fairly simply: only business owners were allowed to go into a business premises, so it was just me, Calvin and a single bike in our Duxton Road CruBox studio. There I was, on-stage, surrounded by boxing bags, teaching to Calvin behind the camera!

Eventually the government allowed us to bring in five instructors, on a rota, so we could offer a bit more variety in our content. We made the decision not to build our library by having our instructors filming from home, though. We wanted to ensure the brand experience was as good as it could be, even in those early days.

Our customers paid for this online content from the outset and we also rented out our bikes; within two hours of the Singaporean government announcing lockdown, we had already rented all 200 bikes. So, we had a revenue stream throughout COVID.

Rentals plus CRU TV Bike sales have totalled over 1,000 bike transactions to date

We’re also fortunate that our membership didn’t really worry about COVID. They were always desperate to train. We’ve had two major lockdowns in Singapore, but in between, every class has been waitlisted.

In our cycling studio, capacity was reduced from almost 50 bikes to just 12, so we put on classes every hour from 7.00am to 10.00pm to keep up with demand. Only now are we finally able to start scaling that back, with 25 bikes per class meaning we’ve been able to drop two classes a day from the timetable.

In a strange way, though, COVID was good for us. It gave us a chance to build our digital product and experiment with a few things. We tested our yoga concept in an outdoor space we had, for example, rather than having to build a new location straight away. Meanwhile, our HIIT concept came from seeing what people were enjoying online during lockdown.

We also continued our charitable work during lockdown, including a big campaign over six weekends where we ran Zoom classes and asked people to donate to take part. We raised around S$20,000, which we shared across a number of different charities.

CRU is the “ultimate destination” for GX instructors

Tell us more about CRU TV.
Since early 2021, we have our own film production studio and our own CRU TV digital platform, and we’ve continued to evolve our content and its quality. Calvin now takes the lead on digital production, while Valerie is our marketing and PR expert and I’m CRU master trainer, in charge of instructors and programming.

We also have our own CRU TV Bike with a 21.5” screen, and since COVID started – combining bike rentals plus sales of our CRU TV Bike – we’ve had over 1,000 bike transactions.

“In a strange way, COVID was good for us. It gave us a chance to build our digital product and experiment with a few things.”

If you purchase our bike – at a cost of S$3,800 including mat, weights and cleats – it comes with a year’s free subscription to all our content. Alternatively, if you just want our content, a subscription costs S$49 a month. And our content is really strong, filmed from multiple angles and now diversified to encompass all our programmes: cycling, boxing, HIIT and yoga.

We’ve also recently launched meditation classes online; the flexibility of digital means we can listen to customer feedback and experiment with new concepts. As another example, we’re currently developing a road cycling-type concept to sit alongside rhythm cycling in our CRU TV library. This will just be online for now, but you never know – we’ve got used to plans evolving quickly and dynamically over the last couple of years!

And your physical growth plans?
We’re in a good place in Singapore. I think there’s space for perhaps one more location before we start to cannibalise our own clubs. Ours is a higher price point, as I say, and there are only a small number of neighbourhoods that can support that. Our main objective in Singapore is to continue filling every class to capacity.

And then in Los Angeles, obviously we only have CruBox at the moment; when we launched, although we knew we could do cycling really well, the boutique cycling market was just so saturated. That’s changed over the last two years, though, with lots of studios closing down and a lot of good instructors moving on from their former brands. South-east Asia is our focus for now, but we’ll never say never when it comes to the US.

CruYoga was originally piloted outdoors before launching in-studio

In terms of south-east Asia, before COVID we already had our eye on a number of potential markets to grow into, and the data we’re getting from CRU TV alongside enquiries for our CRU TV Bike – including from Malaysia, the Philippines, Tokyo, Indonesia, Hanoi and others – have validated our thinking. There haven’t really been any surprises for us in the data.

For now, while immigration rules keep changing, we’ll start with pop-ups – we have a number of these planned – but even after that, we’ll be careful in how we proceed. A lot of these countries are still developing and the law can make things tricky. In Thailand, just as an example, you need a local partner to launch any business. Yet of course, what makes us special – our brand, our soul and our story that’s all based on family – is very hard to hand over to someone else.

“I think we’ll expand into new markets in south-east Asia by next year, leading with cycling but most likely opening multi-purpose studios”

Nevertheless, I do think we’ll expand into new markets in south-east Asia by next year, leading with cycling but most likely opening multi-purpose studios to allow us to offer more than one concept in each location.

Any other plans you can tell us about?
We have a number of new lifestyle concepts in the pipeline: a coffee bar, for example, and food and nutrition including meal plans; I’m a qualified nutritionist as well as a master trainer. And as I say, we’re also continuing to experiment with our digital programming.

Ours is a story of constant evolution. Everything is always in progress. We’ve seen our audiences grow every year across all our concepts, but I still believe this is just the beginning for CRU.

Bebe Ding is the dynamic face of CruCycle in this teaser video for the brand’s at-home cycling content

RIDE HIGH readers can enjoy a free 30-day trial of CRU TV. Just visit
and use promo code RHXCRUTV30 – valid until 31 December 2022.


United Fitness Brands

Why did you create UFB?
Even pre-COVID, businesses in our sector struggled: there were record attendances at boutique studios, but head office costs made it hard to make money. We realised there was an opportunity to drive significant economies of scale by joining forces, allowing each brand to continue to operate with autonomy but with head office functions centralised.

“Our strategy is to be the #1 destination for boutique fitness and wellness, with each brand the best at its own discipline”

Our conversations began during COVID, and in October 2020 we agreed heads of terms to join KOBOX and Boom Cycle, creating a new umbrella company – United Fitness Brands – of which Joe is CEO, Robert COO and Hilary marketing director.

KOBOX and Boom Cycle officially joined forces and launched as United Fitness Brands in March 2021. The following month we heard that Barrecore was on the market. We’re fortunate to have a strong team behind the combined business, with a very supportive board on which our backers Pembroke VCT, Nectar Capital and Dominvs Group all sit. Through these channels, we were able to raise funds to acquire Barrecore in May 2021.

There are now five Boom Cycle studios in London (all photos and videos ©Getty)

What is the vision for UFB?
Our strategy is to be the number one destination for boutique fitness and wellness, with each brand the best at its own discipline. We want to provide our customers with the best overall industry experience.

Meanwhile, for the businesses within UFB, it’s about building a single operational platform to achieve economies of scale for multiple brands and accelerate revenue.

We have four brands now, with Triyoga also part of the UFB portfolio since January 2022, and will bring in more over time; from the outset, we envisaged building a group that spanned six or seven different disciplines, as well as continuing to grow within each of those verticals.

UFB currently offers cycling, boxing, barre and yoga. Other potential disciplines might be dance, reformer pilates, non-yoga stretching. We’re looking to capture as much share of a consumer’s annual wellness spend as possible, by offering services within our portfolio that complement each other and that give consumers the products, services and content they’re looking for.

We’ll assess each opportunity as it comes, and it doesn’t just have to be bricks and mortar. It could include digital brands such as content providers, for example.

How do you explain UFB to consumers?
So far, United Fitness Brands hasn’t been consumer-facing. KOBOX, Boom Cycle, Barrecore and Triyoga each have their own passionate team and fans, so it’s important that each brand retains its autonomy.

However, we have been looking closely at how we explain UFB and the relationship between our different brands to consumers, because we’re launching a new Studio Pass membership option this month.

“We’ll assess each opportunity as it comes, and it doesn’t just have to be bricks and mortar. It could include digital brands.”

When customers log on to their favourite UFB brand website, they will have the option of sticking with the existing price structure to use that brand only. Alternatively, they can purchase a Studio Pass membership, with the benefit being that Studio Pass credits can be used at UFB partner brands as well – currently just KOBOX, Boom Cycle and Barrecore, but we will bring in Triyoga too.

The new pricing will make it advantageous to take up Studio Pass membership. There’s a one-week introductory offer priced at £30. Four classes a month is £60, eight classes a month costs £110, 12 classes a month is £150 and for unlimited classes it’s £180 a month.

We hope this pricing will woo people away from the aggregators. Data shows that on average, people visit three studios for three different disciplines a month, and it’s really exciting to offer that variety within our own group of brands. With our Studio Pass membership, you get to be a member of three – and soon four – best-in-class boutiques, all offering something different in terms of workout but all promising you the best 45–75 minutes of your day.

KOBOX has created a ‘boxing in a nightclub’ vibe

Upper body, lower body, cardio, calmness, flexibility, major muscle groups, smaller muscles… We’re making it easy for people to switch it up in their workouts and reap the physical and mental rewards.

And you have a new booking system…
Yes. Launching this month, it will allow Studio Pass members to book classes at Boom Cycle, Barrecore and KOBOX – and in time also Triyoga – all through one system. It will also be the gateway to live and on-demand digital content, starting with Barrecore.

Then behind the scenes, it’s about insights that allow us to improve the customer journey and run the business more efficiently.

“When we expand outside of London, we’re likely to build multi-brand locations”

Across UFB’s four brands, we have close to half a million customer accounts. That gives us an amazing opportunity to extract good insights into our customers and aggregate all this data in one place. In turn, that allows us to communicate in a more efficient, targeted way, offering our customers more of what they want: the classes they want, when and where they want them, as well as sending relevant offers for apparel, say.

For the business, then, this new system is about securing more accurate, current data, allowing us to make faster, more informed decisions: adaptations to our packages, our timetables or our staffing to improve the customer journey, for example. It will certainly present ecommerce opportunities, too, and could even give us insights into where we might expand physically.

In January 2022, Triyoga became the latest boutique brand to join UFB

It simply wouldn’t be possible to invest in something like this as separate entities – we’re talking a five-figure investment and a system that’s taken many months to build – but together as United Fitness Brands, our distinct boutique operations are able to benefit from the sort of insights that normally only large businesses can afford.

Tell us about your multi-brand studios.
We opened our fourth KOBOX studio at Boom Cycle’s Waterloo location in July of last year, and when Barrecore’s Chelsea lease expired, we moved it in alongside KOBOX on the Kings Road.

Of course, with 23 sites across London, we already had a number of studios in striking distance of each other – and a good number of customers who already visited at least two of our brands – so it will be interesting to see what incremental crossover these multi-brand studios generate. It’s certainly too early to tell at this stage: people still aren’t really coming back into offices to work, so visit numbers remain down in locations like Waterloo. We’ll need more time to assess the impact of multi-brand studios in London.

What we do already know is that when we expand outside of London, which we expect to do towards the end of 2022 and into 2023, we’re likely to build multi-brand locations. Each will have a shared communal area, two or more studios and perhaps some wellness services – massages, for example.

Barrecore has 10 London studios plus three franchised sites

This will, of course, all be data-led. We know who our customers are and we know the perfect customer for each brand, so we’ll be able to identify which street in which city would work for each. And the great thing about UFB is that each brand can roll out independently or we can group them together to suit each location.

What are your growth plans for the next few years?
We now have 23 owned locations – four KOBOX, five Boom Cycle, 10 Barrecore and four Triyoga – as well as two Barrecore franchises in Manchester and one in Leeds, and thus far there’s been sufficient funding to grow the business through our own board.

“We have international growth aspirations, with our eyes on the Middle East in particular as an exciting opportunity”

In time, though, we will need to look at financing options for the next big step: we’re always having conversations and looking at potential sites, and there’s sadly lots of market opportunity post-COVID. That said, we are looking to embed our four brands before we make any further bricks and mortar acquisitions.

We will grow our number of brands and locations per brand in London, however, as well as outside of London, including multi-brand studios in smaller cities across the UK.

With these multi-brand studios in mind, we’re also starting to think more about branding. United Fitness Brands is rather corporate-sounding, so in time this name may disappear in favour of a new, more consumer-friendly name as yet to be decided.

Finally, we have international growth aspirations, with our eyes on the Middle East in particular as an exciting opportunity. There are lots of areas opening up to women in that region; if we could put something like boxing out there, we feel that would be a big step forward.

Boom Cycle is well-known for its ‘party on a bike’ vibe. Get a taste of the action in this video!

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