Tag: Europe

SoulCycle London: Our verdict

The anticipation has been understandable: this is a brand which, since it opened its first studio in Manhattan in 2006, has built an enviable fan base including the likes of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, David and Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Khloe Kardashian and Michelle Obama. And SoulCycle’s appeal reaches beyond the celebs, with an impressive 20,000 people taking classes every day across its 90+ studios.

soulcycle shop londonI myself had previously done SoulCycle in Los Angeles and had been wowed by a feelgood factor that – to my non-performance orientated mind at least – still stands head and shoulders above other indoor cycling workouts I’ve done. I had loved the focus on fun, on getting a sweat on but as a side-effect of having a great time.

I had loved the darkened studio and the candlelight. I had loved the infectious exuberance of the instructor; goodbye English reserve, hello infectious positivity and happy vibe.

I had also loved the fact that, while encouraged to crank it up, I had been left to strike my own balance between enjoyment and exertion. SoulCycle really had lived up to the two halves of its name: the mental benefits for me were as great as the physical, and I left with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

I was, then, understandably keen to see how the experience would translate and settle in the UK.

Energy Boost

As it turns out, work-weary as I was when I turned up for my Wednesday 6.30pm class,
I would have settled for anything that boosted my energy levels a bit.

Fortunately, SoulCycle didn’t stop there.

From the moment I walked into the light, bright reception area – staffed by a team of around eight front-of-house staff – it felt unmistakably SoulCycle. But what I was really interested to experience, of course, was the workout itself… and it’s great to be able to report that SoulCycle London brings the same positive vibe, the same ability to make 45 minutes pass quicker than any other cycling class I’ve ever done, as I experienced in the States.

soulcycle london cycle studioThe London studio is packed full of 63 SoulCycle-branded bikes, including some set off to each side of the instructor. No space given up that could be filled with a bike. But that’s the same formula as in the States, and it certainly brings an energy into the room – not to mention a good amount of sweaty ‘I’ve worked hard, I can feel good about that’ heat.

it’s ok to be there for a good time, not necessarily a ‘train until you drop’ time.

Then there’s the fact that the darkened studio – lit by candlelight and, intermittently, by uplighters around the instructor – makes you feel somehow enclosed in your own space, focused not on those around you but purely on yourself, the great music and the instructor on the podium. The other bikes in the room honestly don’t matter once the lights go down.

Star quality

And so to the instructor – such a key element in justifying SoulCycle’s £24 a ride price tag. On the podium for my class was the bubbly Lauren Naomi, one of the London studio’s three UK instructors; the other three have been ‘imported’ from SoulCycle in the US.

Lauren Naomi SoulCycle rockstar
Lauren Naomi: Professional singer, dancer, actress – and SoulCycle rockstar.

Straight away, two things were evident. Firstly, no instructor is allowed in front of a class until they’ve completed full training in the US. There’s a unique way of doing things at SoulCycle and Lauren Naomi oozed it.

Secondly, SoulCycle’s recruitment policy is clearly personality first, cycling experience second – and I say this not because Lauren Naomi didn’t smash it in the saddle. I say it because her positive, encouraging presence at the front of the room felt very natural while still outgoing, no doubt due to the fact she’s also a professional singer, dancer and actress. This is someone who’s used to being in front of a crowd.

soul cycle london djI also say it because of her very honest, and with it very engaging, comment at the end of the class to those struggling to disengage their cleats: “Don’t worry. I hadn’t even got on a bike until I went to the States for my SoulCycle training. The first class I did, I was still stuck in the corner on my bike when everyone else had left the room!”

It was all very natural, very engaging, very encouraging – “as long as your legs are still moving, you’re doing great”. Ultimately, very SoulCycle. It was OK to be there for a good time, not necessarily a ‘train until you drop’ time… just get a sweat on, get a bit out of breath, but have a smile on your face too – don’t take things too seriously. Immerse yourself in the tunes and the moment and dance your way through the class.

The cult of Soul

Interestingly, while around half the class were on their first ever SoulCycle ride – with its price tag of £16 to get people in and hooked – a good number were already regulars just one week in to the studio’s lifetime, committed to multi-ride packages: buy 30 rides as a package and the price comes down to £19 per class; a 10-class package brings the per-class price down to £21.

the good life eateryBut however, people are buying their classes, whatever their level of commitment, buying them they most certainly are. The eight classes taking place on most weekdays, and the five a day at weekends, are filled almost as soon as they open for booking; some wait lists for the next day were, I was told, already 30-strong. People are champing at the bit to get in, and with the levels of engagement already being shown, it seems to be more than a novelty factor.

is London ready for Soulcycle and its £24 classes? the answer appears to be ‘yes.

So enthusiastic are they, in fact, that some of the already-regulars in the class – unprompted by Lauren Naomi, who was comparatively restrained in her “come on Wednesday!” cheerleading – indulged in a bit of spontaneous mid-class whooping. The American enthusiasm of SoulCycle is, it seems, infectious.

To those many observers asking the question ‘is London ready for SoulCycle and its £24 classes?’… the answer appears to be a resounding ‘yes’.

About SoulCycle London

3–4 Great Marlborough Street, London

3,500sq ft of cycling studio + retail space


£24 for a one-off class;
packages also available

Food & beverage
The Good Life Eatery


Fitness World – indoor cycling version 2.0

To meet the members’ request for superior cycling experiences, Fitness World Denmark is in the process of implementing a new indoor cycling concept. Upgrading all indoor cycles to BODY BIKE SMART+ and implementing INTELLIGENT CYCLING and the use of BODY BIKE indoor cycling app, the indoor cycling experience at Fitness World is getting a long-awaited boost.

Indoor cycles and facilities are generally cost-intensive, and to run a healthy business high attendance and happy members are crucial. By engaging the users, boosting the overall cycling experience and allowing everyone to participate in the same cycling session regardless of their level, the new indoor cycles and digital solutions are expected to ensure high attendance and membership growth.

Even though we offer a wide range of team workouts, indoor cycling has always been very popular and one of our top priorities

”Fitness World is a full-service fitness centre with a wide range of workouts and classes to meet almost anybody’s fitness needs. How important is indoor cycling to your business?
Even though we offer a wide range of team workouts, indoor cycling has always been very popular and one of our top priorities. Even during periods with fluctuating attendance levels, indoor cycling has always ranked high. With the introduction of new indoor cycles and a new and updated indoor cycling concept, Fitness World is revitalising their indoor cycling classes and taking them into the future.

How did you choose your new indoor cycling concept?
Fitness World is a nationwide chain with 106 centers. Upgrading the indoor cycling equipment and facility at all centers is, of course, a resource-intensive task, and it is important that we make lasting and future-proof choices that meet our members’ needs and expectations.

In the decision-making process, we were fortunate to have a large member base that we could count on to test various concepts and equipment and to provide us with valuable feedback. In addition to the continuous feedback we get from our members and instructors, we also did a widescale market research in 2017 to identify our members’ wishes and needs.

After the first implementation of our new indoor cycling concept in September 2017, we have continuously evaluated and adjusted the concept. The ongoing adjustments have resulted in a significant upgrade of the overall cycling experience, created the perfect working conditions for our skilled instructors, and the ultimate foundation for professional and motivational indoor cycling workouts.

”What are the most significant improvements and changes?”
Previously, the BODY BIKE® SUPREME was our standard indoor cycle – and it worked very well for us. Fitness World, our instructors and members were all happy with this model for a long time. However, our members’ needs and expectations slowly changed and to keep their motivation high, maintain high attendance levels and attract new members we had to do something differently.

One of the things that has changed on the fitness scene today is that people want to track, measure and document their efforts. That was not an option with the SUPREME, but with our new BODY BIKE® SMART+, they can do just that. The bikes have built-in software that provides users with all the data required and is compatible with various devices and platforms.

To ensure consistent, high-quality workouts we have decided to implement INTELLIGENT CYCLING as our shared training platform. It is an online tool that allows our instructors to effectively design workouts within the predefined Fitness World bike classes, such as Bike Standard, Bike Edge and Bike Rush etc. INTELLIGENT CYCLING uses five colour zones that indicate the level of resistance. and allows the riders to follow the progress of the workout on screens in the studio.

The new BODY BIKE® SMART+ cycles work with the BODY BIKE indoor cycling app. The app allows the riders to connect their phone with the bike and receive performance data throughout their workout including watt. The BODY BIKE indoor cycling app uses the same colour zones as INTELLIGENT CYCLING and makes it easy for the riders to follow the workout. By entering personal FTP value, the colour zones will automatically adjust the level of resistance within the zones to match each individual rider. Meaning that riders on various levels can attend the same workout and still get a personalised cycling experience. After each workout, riders are able to save their performance data on their mobile phones and subsequently upload the data to STRAVA.

Last but not least, we have worked intensely with our instructors. Even though technology has made its entry into the cycling studios, the instructor still plays an important role, when it comes to ensuring high attendance and attracting members. We have tried out video classes without an instructor present several times, and it has not been a success. Our members want a motivational instructor to inspire them to do their utmost, and they often choose their favourite instructor rather than their favourite class.

People want to track, measure and document their efforts

How has the new cycling concept gone down with the instructors?
The new cycling concept is, of course, different from what the instructors have been used to so far, and their reactions have spanned everything from concern and frustration to joy and excitement. But regardless of the new setup and the new technology, our instructors are still the most important factor in the studio. They are the ones creating the positive vibes, the energy and the strong personal relations.

Consequently, training our instructors has been a top priority. We have made a huge effort to inform our instructors about – and train them in the use of – INTELLIGENT CYCLING, the BODY BIKE® SMART+ cycles, and the BODY BIKE indoor cycling app. We have continuously focused on the positive and the many new possibilities instead of on the limitations. If it is used correctly, we are convinced that the INTELLIGENT CYCLING platform will allow our instructors to focus on motivating our members instead of on communicating information about the workout program and content. Brian Overkær from INTELLIGENT CYCLING has been in charge of training the instructors, and after a test period, evaluations clearly show that our instructors and especially our members are very excited about the new concept and the many new possibilities.

Even though technology is used in Fitness World’s cycling studios, the instructor still plays an important role

”You point out that skilled instructors improve attendance and attract members. How do you find instructors with the right qualifications and personalities?
We make sure that our instructors have the right level of training and the right qualifications at our own training academy, Group Fitness Academy. It is an ongoing process, and we continuously invite our instructors to improve their skills and participate in workshops and further training. One of our key focus areas is developing social skills making sure that our instructors are able to deliver motivating and entertaining workouts.

Being a Fitness World indoor cycling instructor takes dedication and a strong personality

Being a Fitness World indoor cycling instructor takes dedication and a strong personality. It is important that you are outgoing, energetic, have strong social skills and are able to motivate others. You are not necessarily a Pro Tour rider with a body fat percentage below 10 climbing the Alpe d’Huez in less than 50 minutes. Our members form a representative cross section of the population and so do our instructors. Some of them have a background in the fitness industry, others do not. Regardless of their background, they all have to go through our internal Fitness World training programme including workshops and online training.

”How do you make sure that there is a class to meet every fitness need?”
It is our goal at Fitness World to meet the general public’s diverse needs for exercise and fitness. Indoor cycling has a very wide appeal, and we strive to put together a mix of classes that accommodate various needs. With the implementation of new technology our members are able to join any cycling class they prefer regardless of their fitness level. With the BODY BIKE® SMART+ cycles, INTELLIGENT CYCLING and the BODY BIKE indoor cycling app everybody can join the fun and participate at their own pace and level.

Do you continuously develop new classes?
Our members are happy with the cycling classes, we offer today, but we still want to come up with new and inspiring workouts to keep them motivated and coming back for more. One of the new things we have in the pipeline is boot camps that focus on developing the individual rider. Maybe the boot camps can combine some of our existing concepts as for example personal training and BIKE?

Furthermore, we are in the process of exploring how our many digital platforms might work together, and how we – together with BODY BIKE – can create even cooler digital cycling experiences.

”What is the future of indoor cycling at Fitness World?
We launched INTELLIGENT CYCLING and BODY BIKE® SMART+ cycles in eight of our fitness centres in September 2017. In the first year, attendance increased by 5% with an average of 11% more riders joining the classes. We continuously receive positive feedback from our members, and with intensive training our instructors have embraced the new solutions focusing on what they do best – training, guiding, entertaining, motivating and creating great energy.

Today, the new cycling concept has been introduced in 38 out of 106 centres and the rest will follow in 2019-2020.

Fitness World fact Box

  • Toal of 171 Fitness World centers
  • 106 Centers with indoor cycling facilities
  • 4,660 indoor bikes
  • 500,000 members
  • 2,300 instructors


The opening of indoor cycling studio Campcycle at Fitnesscamp Westerwald on 27 December 2017 was a great success, exceeding the expectations of both customers and the company.

The launch event featured three fully booked indoor cycling classes – two RPM classes and one Sprint class – which were planned in collaboration with Les Mills Classes. In addition, all of FitnessCamp’s indoor cycling trainers worked together as a team to do a warm-up with participants. The members were also provided with free drinks and food to celebrate the special occasion.

Kept under wraps

The new Campcycle studio was kept closed to everyone until the launch day, so it would be a surprise to members: the club team wanted them to be thrilled by the transformation of the room. And so they were, for very good reason…
The first step in creating Campcycle involved coming up with the new concept and planning the purchase of new bikes. The idea was to create a ‘club in club’ concept – a whole new world of experience that stood out within Fitnesscamp, featuring great trainers in an impressive environment.

“The idea to give the room the design of an old factory building came from my wife Alexandra, who joined the company in 1995. She runs the studio with me and is group fitness manager at the Westerwald fitnesscamp,” said club owner Jochen Martin. “Her ideas were supported by HDD Group Deutschland, Les Mills Germany, SOTA STATE OF THE ART GMBH, as well as many specialised and flexible craftsmen from our region. This objective came to life bit by bit over the six weeks of the building project.”

A perfect model

Campcycle is now characterised by its structure and design, the lighting and music system, top-quality bikes and Fitnesscamp Westerwald’s team of highly qualified, motivated employees.

indoor cycling fitnesscamp

“Our many years of experience in the field of indoor cycling have prompted us to choose Body Bikes,” continued Jochen. “We were convinced by the bikes’ quality, durability, modern technology – including the Body Bike app – and easy handling.

“We offer pre-choreographed hours of Les Mills – RPM and Sprint – as well as freestyle hours.

“Having now used the studio for a few months, we can safely say we would plan it again without any changes. Our members are enthusiastic and compliment us with positive word-of-mouth advertising and their participation in the indoor cycling lessons.”

He concludes: “Going forward, Alexandra and I would like to continue our work with passion, enthusiasm and pleasure.”

Welcome to Cockburn Arc!

Modern council facilities tend to be massive. You can expect a gym floor with state of the art equipment, group fitness studios with sound systems to rival most cinemas, basketball, netball, badminton, volleyball and indoor football courts, plus cafés and clothing stores – let alone the pool facilities that now have giant slides that begin high above the building’s roof and twirl their way down to an indoor plunge pool. It is a children’s paradise (mums and dads secretly love it too!)

ARC has it all!

About 25 minutes south of Perth and only a few kilometers from the white sandy beaches of Western Australia, the city of Cockburn opened Cockburn ARC in 2017 – an A$109m community facility that in less than 12 months already has one of the biggest memberships in Australia, with close to 10,000 people signed up to use its facilities.

It features grass fields for Australian Football (AFL), timber court after timber court, a full-size swimming pool, plus many other smaller pools for infants and beginner swimmers as well as a giant water slide that’s visible from the next suburb. A café serving great coffee allows you to order off a sit-down menu – perhaps after you have been upstairs in either the state of the art gym or in one of the many group fitness classes on offer, courtesy of the three studios including a cycle space with 50 Body Bike Smart+.

The bar is high

As amazing as this facility is, it is not especially unusual. Australia is a nation that likes being active, with a population who enjoy the outdoors, the sea, the sun, the fun of fitness.

Facilities like Cockburn ARC are community centers by definition, but ‘community’ is where their strength lies. They say there is strength in numbers, and it’s true that centers like this become an integral part of the community for many people.

When a local government makes the decision to develop something of such a high standard as Cockburn ARC, you can be sure it has raised the bar for all of Australia. Perhaps it will even influence developments in other countries, showing how it can be done. Let’s see if it will catch on….


Business is Boom-ing

What’s your background, and how did this lead you to set up Boom Cycle?
Hilary: After leaving university, I worked as a fashion model for 15 years across New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles and mainland Europe. I used studio cycling as a way to stay in shape (I still do!) – but more than that, I loved the feeling of just spending 45 minutes dancing to good tunes. Because that’s what it felt like: as if I were dancing on a bike in a nightclub. The endorphin kick was always a way to feel great – a definite mood-improver.

When I moved to London, I couldn’t find anything that compared to the indoor cycling classes I’d previously experienced in New York, so I set about creating my own. That led to me launching Boom Cycle with Robert – then my boyfriend, now my husband – in 2011.

Robert: I’d worked in the alcohol/drinks industry for around five years before co-founding Boom Cycle. A different industry for sure, but we were growing a small business and the hours certainly trained me well for owning my own business, which had always been my goal.

What was your objective when you started out?
Hilary: I was initially viewing Boom Cycle as a hobby, but the more Robert and I looked into it, the more we realised there was a real opportunity to create something that was missing in the UK.

We therefore decided to co-found the company with a much bigger vision: to create indoor cycling studios across the UK offering classes that made fitness fun – no longer a chore that people had to tick off their to-do list, but rather something they looked forward to as the highlight of their day.

Robert: We sold our house to build our first studio, which opened in 2011 in a little basement space on a backstreet in Shoreditch, east London. It was close to where we lived, a cool area and the rent was cheap.

boom cycle indoor cycling class

What makes Boom Cycle special?
Hilary: Boom Cycle is inclusive and empowering. We don’t use any sort of numbers or measurement. There’s no element of competition.
We provide an experience in which people can lose themselves and let their minds go. It’s like a very loud meditation and big party all rolled up into one!

Robert: As Hilary says, it’s all about empowering our riders. By making our workouts fun and accessible, and training our front-of-house hosts properly, we create a space where everyone feels welcome, so there’s no pressure and no intimidation – just lots of smiles and high fives.

With one-off rides starting at £18 – going up to £300 for 20 rides, or an unlimited package for £125 a month – we realise it isn’t the cheapest way to exercise. It’s therefore especially important to recognise not only that it’s a treat for some people, but that all consumers want to feel valued when they’re spending their very hard-earned money.

Who’s your target market?
Hilary: Anyone at all! Seriously, our riders range from 14 to 83 years old and come from all backgrounds. We do find the majority tend to be millennial women, but our customer base is very diverse.

What’s the design philosophy at your studios?
Robert: We want the space to feel comfortable and not too polished: we always keep it a bit rough around the edges. In addition, we always take the external environment into account – it is this that always leads the brief.

Interior design of our studios is by W&D Design (wandd.co.uk), which is headed up by Thomas Rowland.

boom cycle interieur

You were an early mover in the boutique sector. How receptive were consumers to this new model?
Robert: Tough to say across the whole of London, but in Shoreditch there was a lot of educating the market that had to be done. Most people really didn’t get the concept of paying per class and pre-buying rides upfront.
In addition, we found a lot of people were comparing the cost of our classes to traditional gym memberships, even though the experience was very different.

However, it was very well received. We just had to provide a lot of guidance and education and build the business up over a few months.

How has your business developed over time?
Robert: Off the back of the success of our first studio, we secured investment to open more Boom Cycle locations. Today, we have four standalone studios in London – in Shoreditch, Holborn, Hammersmith and Battersea – and one pop-up residency.

The way we go about things, the brand, the look and feel and marketing have all adapted over time as our business has grown, but our vision of what we’re all about and where we want to be has remained constant.

How do you market the studios?
Robert: We view ourselves as a lifestyle brand, so our marketing follows that vision: we spend a lot of time working on engaging with our customers and building the Boom Cycle community. After all, the best marketing you could ever get comes from your existing riders via word-of-mouth.

What do you look for when hiring instructors?
Hilary: We look for people who have the thing you can’t teach: the X factor, charisma and connectivity that you either have or you don’t. They must also have rhythm, enthusiasm and more energy than anyone else in the room. We’ll teach them the rest.
It’s easier than it used to be to find good instructors, now our brand has grown, but it still isn’t easy. We hold auditions to find ours, and at the most we might take three instructors from one audition – but sometimes we take none.

What do you expect from your instructors?
Hilary: Many of them will have multiple roles, but at the very heart of it, their role is to be an ambassador for Boom Cycle – to preach our vision, standing in front of the congregation each day to deliver our message. We would therefore wholeheartedly say they do much more than just lead classes.
When it comes to classes, though, they all follow our programme – but they choose their own music.

Boom indoor cycling instructor class

How many studios do you think you’ll open in London, and over what timeframe?
Robert: We do plan to open more, but how many and when is truly impossible to say.

Before we think about opening new studios, we need to make sure our existing sites are working well – that we’re delivering the Boom Cycle vision every ride, every day, every studio. It’s what our riders expect and deserve. So for the next few months, we’re focusing on getting our new sites in Hammersmith and Battersea up and running – they opened this summer.

Will you go to other cities in the UK, or even overseas?
Robert: We’d love to, when the time is right and if the location has the right demographic, footfall and rents.

What would you say is the secret of your success?
Robert: I think having a clear and very consistent understanding of what we’re trying to achieve has been a big help to us. That and never giving up!

What we do is also very much in line with what people in London want. London is a hectic, stressful (but amazing) city. It’s all about the hustle and bustle – so people love those 45 minutes of escapism with us, when they can just get down and boogie.

“we look for PEOPLE who have THE THING you can’t teach”

What’s the main trend in indoor cycling in London at the moment?
Robert: People are trying various avenues, from the ‘party on a bike’ approach to performance and data tracking. I don’t think it’s clear yet which will be the most popular – if one will emerge victorious or if both will thrive.

If you were starting from scratch now… would you?
Robert: With all the competition in the market now, we would certainly need much deeper pockets and a lot more experience than we had in 2011. We did a lot of learning on the job back then.

There’s a lot of great work going on in the boutique sector these days, and some operators are about to become real incumbents. They will be hard to uproot. Not impossible, but hard.

  • 1
  • 2

Conceived, powered and funded by BODY BIKE®, RIDE HIGH has a simple mission: to celebrate and champion the very best of indoor cycling, sharing ideas, stories and experiences from around the world to inspire the sector on to even bigger and better things. Subscribe for free by leaving your details below and we'll send indoor cycling's hottest news direct to your inbox three times a year.

Subscribe for free