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Dentists by profession, Sara Golshani and her husband Ali might not be the first people you’d expect to open a boutique cycling studio – but that’s exactly what they’ve done, and with an unusual twist. She speaks to Kate Cracknell.
Published 10. May 2023

What’s the story behind CYCED?

We opened on 1 January 2023 in Austin, Texas, in a residential suburb called Bee Cave. The initial momentum came from my husband Ali, who’s very entrepreneurial: in spite of opening our own dental practice in 2018, and since extending it too, by 2021 he was already itching to open a new business.

He threw lots of ideas at me, but with the dental practice and having two young boys, I just didn’t have the bandwidth. That was, until he suggested opening a cycling studio.

I first got into indoor cycling in 2016, right after my dad died, and I feel like it truly brought me out of those dark times. I would cycle four, five times a week, then began to teach at a local gym. So when Ali suggested a cycling studio, all of a sudden my mindset changed. That was something I could get onboard with!

CYCED indoor cycling spinning studio
CYCED has 36 studio bikes plus a recumbent bike for adaptive riders

What was your vision?

We wanted to create something that was good for the community. I’d had a heartbreaking experience with the first studio I started at in 2016: as soon as I began to teach elsewhere, they banned me from cycling with them. When we decided to open our own studio, our first principle was reciprocity.

West Austin, including Bee Cave, is growing fast enough to support many different modalities of fitness. Even within cycling… CycleBar also opened here in January, for example, a few miles from our studio. And that’s fine: there’s plenty of opportunity and everyone has their own style. We don’t have to make ours a closed community; we encourage our instructors to ride and train elsewhere as well.

“Everyone is welcome, we ride as one, but it’s totally fine to be in the back row. We all started there!”

Design-wise, I love interior design and had visions of creating somewhere that wasn’t like a gym. I wanted to give CYCED a real boutique feel, and working with Barbara Chancey Design Group, we’ve created a luxurious colour scheme of navy and copper. It’s beautiful and homely at the same time.

We have a three-tiered studio with 36 bikes plus one adaptive bike. We have a great retail area where we sell our own CYCED merchandise, as well as NUX and Beach Riot. We have beautiful copper lockers, two bathrooms and a shower room with everything you need – a blow-dry bar and so on.

There’s also a social gathering space for before and after class, with Theraguns that you can use for free. We’ve done a few private rides since we’ve opened, allowing friends and family to experience the joy together, and we’ve hosted little happy hours in that space afterwards.

CYCED will audition for new instructors quarterly to ensure it always has the best talent

What’s your style of cycling?

We’re 100 per cent rhythm-based. We dance to the beat of the music and if you’ve never done it before, you keep coming back until you get the hang of it! We don’t offer beginner classes, but equally it’s OK not to be perfect. There are no metrics and no sense of competition at CYCED. If you can’t do the moves, that’s OK – just do what you’re comfortable with. Your body, your ride.

“No-one is better than anyone else. We train together, we ride together, we support each other.”

In fact, there’s a big slogan on one of our doors that says ‘Passion, not perfection’. I feel like that’s really the motto of CYCED. We genuinely couldn’t care less about perfection in class. We want you to grow with us and get better along the way, but as long as you’re doing something passionately, that’s all that matters. Our goal is to create a community where everyone is welcome, where we ride as one, but where it’s totally fine to be in the back row. We all started there!

Each instructor brings their own style and playlist but works within our BPM-based class structure. That always includes an arms track, a stretch track at the end and a climb where we turn the lights right down, the music is slow and it’s all about getting in touch with your feelings.

There’s no choreography in this climb. It’s a moment to reflect, to think about why you’re here and your journey to this point, and to have gratitude. We also remind participants that even on their darkest days, just as on their happiest days, we’ll be here: the CYCED family will always be there to lift them up, no matter what they’re going through. I’m not alone in crying fairly regularly during this track!

All CYCED classes are rhythm-based, but if you can’t do the moves, that’s OK – just do what feels comfortable

Tell us about your adaptive bike.

It wasn’t part of our original concept, but then a girl who used to ride with me at the other gym – a girl named Sarah – was diagnosed with ALS. She used to ride all the time, so her decline over the last couple of years has been very challenging: she’s in a wheelchair now.

Last year, she reached out to me to say how much she missed just being in the environment of the studio, and would we consider getting a recumbent bike so she could just sit in there and experience it. I really wanted to do that for her. She won’t be able to do the moves, of course. She may be able to roll her legs. But even if she can’t, she can wheel herself in and just experience the music, the sound, the passion in the room.

“It isn’t just about getting disabled people in to ride. It’s about truly giving back to those in need.”

We managed to find a recumbent bike with a small enough footprint to sit alongside our studio bikes: I didn’t want Sarah, or anyone else, to have to go into a separate area of the studio. Going back to our community principle, we want what we do to be for everyone, no matter your limitations.

And our whole studio is geared up for this; in Bee Cave, every business has to be fully compliant with American Disability Act regulations. Our showers are wheelchair-accessible, the doors are wide enough, the countertops low enough and so on. We want as many people as possible to find joy in the CYCED experience.

CYCED interior design by Barbara Chancey
CYCED worked with Barbara Chancey Design Group to create a luxurious colour scheme of navy and copper, and a space that’s both homely and beautiful

Sarah has had a challenging last few months, so she hasn’t been able to ride with us yet; we haven’t had anyone use that bike yet. But actually, it isn’t just about getting disabled people in to ride at CYCED. It’s more about truly giving back to those in need and helping people along the way, so we hope charity rides will be a big thing in our future.

We’ll do rides for ALS, of course, but also for other non-profits. At our dental practice, we have patients whose two daughters have cystic fibrosis. By the time this magazine comes out, we will have hosted our first charity ride on 1 May, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

I also make a point in class to encourage riders to find a moment of gratitude for their bodies. There are so many people who wish they could do the things we often take for granted, but aren’t able.

Tell us about your instructors.

There are five of us, including me, in our founding team. It’s all women at the moment, but we are auditioning for more instructors. That’s something we’ll do quarterly even if we don’t actively need anyone: if we want to be the best and if we want to grow, we never want to miss out on talent.

One really important thing at CYCED is that we’re a team. I’ve always been very clear with our instructors that no-one is better than anyone else. I don’t care if your numbers are better. We train together, we ride together, we support each other.

That comes across in class, too. We avoid using the word “I” and we’re very careful to ensure it isn’t all about the superstar instructor. It’s “we’re so glad you’re here” and “we’re going to do this together”. We are CYCED. Everything is “we”.


Meet CYCED’s all-female founding instructor team
Meet CYCED’s all-female founding instructor team

How is CYCED doing so far?

We’ve been open four months now (interview conducted 4 April 23) and we’re incredibly fortunate to be in a community that really supports local businesses. CYCED is already more successful than we could ever have dreamed.

Classes aren’t all full yet – although some are –but word is spreading and bringing new people in every day. That’s the important thing right now. Attendance across our 16 weekly classes is growing all the time through word-of-mouth and social media.

Obviously the dream is to fill every class, and we’ll keep evolving so the product never gets stale. It will always be cycling, though. And crucially, along the way, we’ll really take care of our clients. At CYCED, you’re more than just a number.


“The dream is to fill every class, but along the way, we’ll really take care of our clients. At CYCED, you’re more than just a number.”


CYCED Merchandise boutique
CYCED sells its own merchandise as well as NUX and Beach Riot
Published 10. May 2023


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