Tag: Studio design

Studio design: Know the WHY behind every decision

 In today’s world of boutique fitness, whether standalone or club-in-club, indoor cycling studios are sanctuaries of ritual and community. Attendance becomes almost a religion among devoted fans. Symbols (logos) are worn with pride – a mark of identity and belonging. Devotees gather at the appointed time, showing unswerving loyalty to their guru – their chosen instructor.

And just as the world’s religions have their distinct stories to tell, so fitness studios have diversified and created their own philosophies to set themselves apart.

When working with new clients, our first question is always: ‘What do you believe?’

Where previously, indoor cycling looked similar the world over – go-getting, fitness-focused, push hard and then push harder – now distinct models are emerging to appeal to a multi-generational group of devotees. Amid messages of diversity and inclusion, new styles and formats have recast indoor cycling as ‘moving meditation’, spawning a new generation of studios where the focus is less on physical appearance and more on a lasting state of happiness and fulfilment.

It is the belief system, the ethos, the brand story that now distinguishes one cycling studio from another.

Design around the nuances
So, what does all this mean from a design perspective?

Just as architecture differs in form and function across houses of worship, so indoor cycling studios should also be designed based on the brand’s belief.

The studio design for a rhythm cycling class should be very different from the design for a performance class; trying to blend the needs of outdoor cyclists with those of choreography-based rhythm riders, all in one space, is where many studios fail.


But it isn’t impossible. With keen observation, meticulous planning and great creativity, we’ve been very successful in blending a variety of indoor cycling styles, delivering waitlisted classes and industry-crushing growth for our clients around the world.

Identify the contradictions
Think about the differences between SoulCycle and Flywheel. Before their division, all three founders had the same beliefs and philosophy. But now? Fly has screens and TorqBoards, Soul has candles and choreography. Soul distributes shoes from behind the front desk, Fly is a self-serve system with shoes in cubbies that correspond to the bike number. Sidebars and bikes on one level or stadium seating? There are reasons behind every decision, and it’s no accident that Flywheel and SoulCycle have stark contrasts in their studio design.

TVs and projection screens can be intrusive in a rhythm class, while the performance crowd enjoys friendly competition and checking stats on a leaderboard. Screens can also be useful for charity events, bride rides, birthday celebrations – yet they are considered “clutter” that contradict the digital detox offered by rhythm studios.

Ceiling or wall fans are mandatory for some studio owners, yet others believe fans cause arguments among instructors and members.

The true roadies and performance cyclists would be mortified to ride with a set of pink hand weights behind the saddle, yet others believe they are essential to the class format.

Even within the rhythm religion, there are contradictions: some teach freestyle with little resistance and an RPM over 120; others adhere to traditional form as certified by the likes of Mad Dogg or Schwinn.


Chilled, scented towels after the finish line? Some believe in passing them out as a sweet reward – an integral part of a signature class. These studios require a discrete, flush-mounted small refrigerator inside the studio. Others believe towels are a waste of time and money and eliminate them all together. Problems arise when inconsistency creeps in and it’s a hit or miss amenity.

Many studio owners believe clients should come early and stay late. They need studios designed with generous social spaces to create a welcoming community – a home away from home. Others insist on small common areas to allow space for more bikes, which means getting people in and out quickly.

Ask yourself this…
Technical concerns such as sound mitigation, humidity control and reducing slippage will always be a top priority. However, when working with new clients, our first question is always: “What do you believe?”

We then design studios to reflect that belief, asking questions such as:

  • Do you believe an instructor should help a client on the third row who comes unclipped or needs assistance during class? If yes, include extra space between rows so the instructor (or assistant) can quickly attend the need.
  • Do you believe in occasional team rides with multiple instructors, or do you prefer to showcase only one instructor? The answer will determine the size and weight load of your podium/stage. It will also determine the number of microphones and channels your sound system requires.
  • Do you believe instructors should control ceiling fans and dictate when (or if) they come on? If you’re eliminating ceiling fans altogether, know the logic behind this decision. If you’re installing fans, remember to allocate a no-fan zone so clients can reserve a bike away from, or directly under, the fans depending on their preference.



  • Do you believe all bodies are the same shape and size? If yes, then place bikes with equal spacing between them. However, I would encourage you to think of an aeroplane, where different classes of seat have different spacing between them. The reasons are different in cycling studios, but there is arguably a similar need for variances in spacing. I’ve noticed that larger people and first-timers tend to take a place on the back row, so space bikes on this row further apart – it will make the lone wolves, and/or those who crave more space, feel more comfortable.
  • To meet current social distancing requirements, why not remove the seat post of selected bikes rather than removing the bikes themselves? This keeps mass in the room for better sound; bikes can be rotated to receive equal usage.
  • During check-in at the reception desk, do you believe the first thing a client should see is the back of a computer screen or a smiling face?
  • Do you believe cycling shoes should be complimentary or rented from you? This determines the best delivery system and location.
  • How often will your studio turn the room for classes? If every 15 minutes, is your ventilation system designed to remove humidity and infuse fresh air, reducing odour and moisture? These are the questions you have to ask yourself in ‘normal’ times. Right now, of course, ventilation is even more critical – and complex – impacting not only riders’ comfort but also virus control. This is an area in which you must not cut corners.
  • Do you believe clients should struggle to walk in cycling shoes? Slippage continues to be a cause of falls and potential lawsuits; sweat mixed with body lotion is a recipe for disaster on polished concrete floors.
  • Does your brand have a signature scent? From grapefruit to lemon verbena, infuse a subtle yet memorable aroma into your studio space through a timed release in the ventilation system, for effective scent marketing.

There are no right or wrong answers to the above questions, but it is important to think about these details. You’d be surprised by how many people don’t. If you want your brand to inspire loyalty and ignite imagination, why would you use the same design style and brand language as your competitor to claim how unique you are?

Before hiring an architect or selecting a location, you must know the ‘why’ behind every design decision and fiercely uphold what you believe.


About the Barbara Chancey Design Group
“Unlike many traditional design firms, my entire team teaches, takes or observes classes relentlessly,” says Barbara Chancey, founder of the Barbara Chancey Design Group. “Our strength comes in designing beautifully functional spaces, approaching every brief through the eyes of instructors.

“Always mindful of the enormous effort it takes to fill a class, we include thoughtful features for instructors, with meticulous details to help them deliver a superior experience. This results in creative classes, increased retention, waitlists and industry-crushing growth for our clients.”

She continues: “When working with new clients, our first question is always: ‘What do you believe?’ We then create studio designs to reflect that belief – designs that reflect your brand and that are able to grow with you.

“In the words of Simon Sinek from his TED Talk on great leaders: ‘Hire people who believe what you believe, and you’ll never fail.’

“Studio owners, what do you believe?”

Something in the air

Thomas, what would you consider best practice for air conditioning in cycle studios?
Before we go into any details, you first have to understand that there are different methods of getting the air ‘just so’.

The first is ventilation. These systems don’t cool the air. They can warm it, so they’re good for the winter, but they can’t cool it. They basically replace ‘old’ air with ‘new’, sucking in air from outside and blowing it into the studio. Whatever volume of air these systems blow in, they also suck back out of the studio, in the process removing moisture and CO2 from the room.

The second option is a climate control system, which is the same as a ventilation system except it does include an option to cool the air. These systems are able to maintain your ideal studio temperature year-round.

And then, finally, there’s air conditioning. These systems recirculate the air that’s in the studio, so although they do allow you to change the temperature, they can’t prevent build-up of CO2 or moisture. They don’t introduce any fresh air to the room. I personally don’t tend to work much with air conditioning.

Ventilation systems are the most cost-effective. I therefore recommend studios either have just ventilation or, if you feel you have to cool the air, that you have two systems installed: ventilation, and then either air con or climate control. That way, you can switch between the two as required.

The room might not be cold, but as long as you feel air moving over your body, you’re OK

If you’re relying on ventilation, do cyclists not get too hot?
There will, of course, be times and places when the outside air is so hot that your climate or air conditioning system has to kick in. While it’s down to personal preference, you’re probably aiming for a studio temperature of 18–20°C; if the air outside is significantly higher, then yes, I would probably recommend having two systems installed.

However, picture this scene. You’re out road cycling on a hot summer’s day, the sun is beating down, but while you’re moving along there’s always air flowing against you and you feel, if not cool, then certainly comfortable temperature-wise. Then you stop at a traffic light and all of a sudden you’re sweating, you feel uncomfortably hot. It’s unpleasant. Finally the lights turn green, you start cycling again, the air circulates around your body and you’re back to feeling good.

It’s similar in a cycling studio. The room might not be cold, but as long as you feel the air moving over your body – even if that air isn’t freezing cold – you’re OK. I’m not saying you should let the room get really hot, but what really matters is that feeling of air on you while you’re exercising. It’s one of the reasons why I always suggest a cycle studio includes a ventilation system. In fact, one of our clients had a bit of an ‘a-ha’ moment in this respect.

We changed the air system at one of its clubs, putting the installation in the ceiling rather than on the walls: a very simple, round tube that blew air down on the participants below. The temperature in the studio was able to go up, but there was lots of air in the studio and they had great feedback from members – as well as saving money on their energy bills.

Infusing citrus scent into the circulating air encourages exercisers to work harder, says Rasmussen

So, is the ceiling the best place to put a ventilation system?
It’s certainly my recommendation. There’s nothing worse than sitting there and not feeling any air, which can happen to those in the middle of the room if the air is coming in from the side, or even the sides.

Ventilation and air con systems can be a little noisy, admittedly, but in a cycling studio – where the music is up loud and the bikes whirring – that doesn’t matter. So, my advice: put the units where they will have the best effect for people. And for me, that means letting the air blow down over people.

The size of the room will dictate how many ventilation units you need, but if you do it right, even with say two units in the room, you can still have numerous nozzles across the ceiling which blow an ‘air curtain’ down over people.

How often do you need to change the air in a cycling studio?
If you calculate it properly using a measure called MET – Metabolic Equivalent for Task, which estimates the amount of energy and oxygen used by the body during physical activity, as compared to resting metabolism – you come up with a really, really high number.

Start from zero: when people step into the studio before class, it can’t already be full of CO2 and moisture

If you’re sitting still in an office, then you have a MET of 1. If you’re elite athlete training hard, you might have a MET of 15. For indoor cycling, I would say it’s about 10.

I’ve tried to do the sums to translate that into CO2 emission and I make it about 280 cubic metres per hour, per person. Then you look at the typical size of a cycling studio: maybe 50sq m with a ceiling height of, say, 3 metres. That’s 150 cubic metres, which would mean we’d have to ventilate the room twice an hour for every person in there. Multiply that by even just 20 people in a class and it’s a huge number.

I don’t think that’s necessary though. I would say 14–16 times an hour is fine. But you do need to make sure you’re starting from zero, by which I mean when people step into the room before class, the room can’t already be full of CO2 and moisture. They need to be stepping into a room where the air is ‘fully powered’ with the right level of oxygen.

How can clubs ‘fully power’ their studios before each class?
There is no doubt that, for a well-ventilated room, it helps to have half an hour between classes. Ideally, ventilation should then start automatically in advance of the class starting, either on a timer or using a sensor. You will usually have a good 10–15 minutes between the first person coming in and the class actually starting, so you could set the ventilation to start at 10 per cent of its maximum flow as soon as the sensor detects movement in the room.

Ventilation helps control moisture, but it can’t help with the salt in sweat; bikes must be regularly cleaned

Incidentally, I also recommend having CO2 and temperature sensors in the room. At the beginning of the class, the air flow can be lower – the 10 per cent flow I mention – rising as the CO2 levels and room temperature rise. Once again, this helps you save money, avoiding the need to have the system set to max for the full duration of the class.

However, not many health clubs and cycling studios have these sensors. It’s often the instructor who turns on the ventilation just before the class starts. If you don’t have sensors, I would recommend the ventilation is set at 10 per cent of its maximum flow throughout the club’s opening hours – turned up, of course, during classes – so the studio is always ready to go.

Ventilation isn’t just about the experience. It’s about keeping equipment in good working order

In terms of temperature, if you want to cool the room from 28 to 20 degrees as an example, you need to allow 30 minutes between setting the temperature and the start of the class. Because it’s not only the air which has to cool down, but also floor, walls and bikes.

Any other advice for cycle studio operators?
Ventilation isn’t just about the experience for cyclists. It’s also about keeping the equipment in good working order. A well-ventilated environment helps control moisture levels, which in turn helps prevent rusting of the bikes and the malfunction of any electronics in the room, such as the music system.

However, moisture isn’t the only problem. Sweat contains salt too, which can also cause bikes to rust. I therefore strongly advise, alongside a good ventilation system, that operators clean the surfaces after every class to remove salt.

Meanwhile, we recommend you have your ventilation systems serviced at least once a year. And if you have a system with coolant, I’d suggest a minimum of two services a year to ensure the coolant doesn’t escape the system.

One other thing that might be worth noting: I have seen some places where they have propellers in the ceiling, which somewhat support the theory of air over the body. However, they don’t remove the C02 or moisture. Without a proper ventilation unit, operators have to be able to open a window, which I personally don’t recommend as a solution.

Finally, you can infuse scent into the air if you wish: it can help make the room smell pleasant rather than sweaty, of course, but it can also positively impact people’s mindset. Citrus is a particularly good choice for cycling studios: it encourages members to work harder because they feel fresh.

fitness1, while not an Air-Tekniq customer, has the sort of overhead ventilation system Rasmussen recommends

Five steps to a perfect cycle studio

1. Deliver an experience, not a class

The member experience is something everyone talks about nowadays, yet many operators fall short of delivering a true experience – something members will want to tell their friends about.

While there are, of course, many different elements that combine to create the perfect member experience, I believe three are particularly important. Firstly, always try to tell a story rather than selling a product. Secondly, engage passionate instructors who genuinely love to teach. And third, try to surprise your participants in every class they join.

group class indoor bikes2. Focus on the group cycling product

Further to tip #1, although it isn’t about selling a product, it’s nevertheless vitally important that the product hits the mark, delivering results as well as a share-worthy experience.

An obvious point here, but use great equipment – and by that, I don’t only mean equipment that’s high quality, but that also feels high quality. Member perceptions are important. Minimise opportunities for distraction too, so riders are immersed at the moment and fully focused on their training. Use large format displays or projection to present stats like heart rate or other performance metrics. Last but not least, create a sense of competition between participants to ensure they push themselves to their limits – and beyond.

nice cycle class studio3. Maximise the impact of your studio

If your cycle studio looks like someone put bikes onto a squash court, it will always feel like someone put bikes onto a squash court.

Make the most of your studio space – for example, maximising the impact of any unusual architectural features to create unique interior design concepts. And make the most of what’s outside too: if your club is located amid beautiful scenery, consider installing large panoramic windows in your studio. Do, however, ensure it’s a view that will motivate and inspire rather than distract – as noted in tip #2 – and remember there may be a need for blackout blinds over the windows if, for some classes, you want to create a cinematic experience via a big screen.

spinning studio interior4. Change the look of your cycle studio as often as possible

Don’t allow your studio to feel the same throughout the duration of a class, as this does little for motivation. Mix it up to keep riders stimulated and engaged.

Opt for a lighting system that supports the training being delivered, with different lighting to sync with the different phases of the workout. And use video projection to further immerse participants in the story your instructor is telling – the journey they are being taken on.

cycle studio audio5. Deliver crystal-clear audio at every bike

A great sound system is vital to every group cycling class. Use an audio system that delivers perfect audio – including clarity and intelligibility of speech – wherever you may be in the studio, at whichever bike. Reduce the risk of any disturbance in sound – reverberation, for example – by incorporating features such as hidden absorption material behind graphics on the walls.

See the light

“I first came up with the idea for FirstLight Cycle in the lobby of a New York hotel,” says Mark Anthony, the former celebrity PT turned indoor cycling enthusiast, sitting in the bright reception area of his newly-opened boutique cycling studio.

“I’d gone out to New York to look at the cycling scene there and was immediately hooked. I loved what the studios gave me: the energy of working out as a group rather than one-to-one.

“I had previously worked as a personal trainer, operating at the top of my profession for two decades, but the time had come where I no longer felt I had the energy to get up at 4.00am and go to bed at 1.00am every day. I felt opening a cycling studio might be a good next step for me.

“I had already started mulling over how I might do this when I found myself watching an incredible sunrise over New York through a huge window in my hotel lobby. I thought to myself: ‘How incredible would it be to run a group cycling class right here, with this view?’ That was the beginning of FirstLight.

“This was back in 2014, so it’s taken time to come to fruition – I’ve had to find the right technology to recreate that solar experience, as well as finding the right location. Really, the property market in London is a bidding war nowadays, and it’s taken us a long time to find the right space.

“But we’re here now, we have a strong vision, we’re clear what we stand for, and I believe we can become a key player in the boutique market over the coming years.”

Firstlight Westfield Cycling

Journey of the sun

He continues: “The concept of FirstLight is centred on harnessing the combined power of light and exercise, both of which have huge benefits for our body and our soul.

“Studio 1 houses our signature cycling concept, which revolves around the journey of the sun: from first light through high noon to sunset. There’s a 30ft screen filling the front wall of the studio, so you find yourself immersed in a landscape over which the sun rises, moves across the sky and then sets. This simulated sunshine is designed to boost participants’ energy levels and mood – sunshine makes us happy.

“The screen is also a mirror, so our instructors – we call them our maestros – can switch between the two to suit their class structure. We create threads they have to follow in their programming – we dictate the high points based on the phases of the sun, which is reflected in the prescribed BPM of the music – but they choose their own tracks and do their own choreography around these threads. In this way, they can create their own signature workouts, each of which we review and approve before they’re allowed to use them in the studio.

“We also put our maestros, all of whom are employed by us rather than freelance, through eight weeks of training at our academy, so they absolutely understand our concept and our expectation of robust, credible workouts.”

Box and ride

“But we have 9,000sq ft of space here, which is large for a boutique. It means that, in addition to our 58-bike studio 1, we’ve been able to create two further studios.

“Studios 2 and 3 will open in January: a 40-capacity boxing studio, where the sun will gradually work its way from east to west above your head, rather than across a screen at the front of the cycling studio; and a 21-bike HIIT cycling studio, which will be dark and intense and raw, with tough workouts that last half an hour as opposed to the 45- or 60-minute classes in studio 1.”

He adds: “My uncle used to be heavyweight boxing champion of Asia, so I’ve grown up with boxing. Meanwhile, my personal expertise is strength training. We’ve combined both of these elements to create a unique twist on a boxing class, combining free weights with punchbags where you ‘punch by number’ – the bags are marked up to show exactly where to hit them.


“We’ll also be introducing some more challenging cycling workouts into the timetable over the coming weeks, even in studio 1. At the moment, it’s a fairly comfortable ride. We’ll still offer that – our audience is mostly 35- to 60-year-olds and we don’t want to alienate anyone – but younger riders tend to want something a bit tougher, so we’ll be addressing that.”

The future is live

Anthony continues: “The other thing we’re launching in January is home streaming, and this will be central to our whole business model moving forward. I firmly believe people are
increasingly leaning towards home fitness, so all three of our studios have been built with this technology embedded.

“Our boxing studio has two cameras, so the maestro can switch between them and talk directly to people taking part from home; they’ll be shadow boxing rather than using a bag, so all they need is a bench and some dumbbells, which we can sell to them. We’re still working out how to fully convey the journey of the sun when we live stream our boxing classes, because people will be streaming it to their TVs.

“However, for the cycling classes we have a really exciting innovation: we’ll be unveiling our own Peloton-style home fitness bike in January.
FirstLight classes will be live streamed to its 22-inch screen – the maestro will be able to see exactly who’s tuning in, so they can give them a shout out – but there will also be a frame around the screen. This will emit light throughout the class, in line with the phases of the sun, so at-home exercisers experience all the feelgood benefits of our studio-based workouts.”

Firstlight interieur awakened

A unisex model

“We had originally planned to launch a second studio in London, but we aren’t doing that any more. We may eventually open other studios if we move into Europe and the US, but there will be no more in the UK,” adds Anthony.

“That’s because I believe the future of indoor cycling – in fact, the future of all genres of exercise – is streaming. We’re gearing our whole set-up around this, which is why I’ve invested in bringing the very best technology to this 9,000sq ft studio. This will be our hub.

“In fact, I also believe streaming is the way to get men involved in group exercise. They don’t want to come into a studio environment – 85 per cent of our customers at FirstLight are women – but being able to train from home makes all the difference. In addition, whereas our studio classes are all about the experience, the FirstLight at-home bike will also offer stats and performance data – something we believe will further extend our appeal among men.”

He concludes: “I do think you need a strong
story to make live streaming work, but I believe our light-centred classes have what it takes. As we build our brand and extend our reach, I
believe FirstLight will become a brand that people love to follow.”

FirstLight Cycle – vital statistics

  • Location: Westfield London shopping centre
  • Opened: Late September 2018
  • Investment: £1.5m
  • Size: 9,000sq ft
  • Studios: 3
  • Total capacity: 120
  • Break-even: 35% capacity
  • Studio class prices: £20 per class, up to £125 monthly unlimited; packages also available
  • Home fitness prices: £19 a month per discipline, or £35 for both cycling and boxing
  • Supplier: Schwinn

James Balfour

The co-founder of London boutique operator 1Rebel talks to Kate Cracknell about its ground-breaking new cycling amphitheatre

“We’ve created three distinct types of class at 1Rebel,” explains James Balfour, co-founder of the London-based boutique operation. “We have cycling concept Ride, bootcamp-based Reshape, and boxing-focused Rumble.

“Our first four clubs are dual-discipline, with the line-up shaped by the location of the club and the interior design opportunities within each building: we have three Ride / Reshape clubs and one Reshape / Rumble club.

“But at 1Rebel Victoria – our latest club, which opened in the newly-constructed Nova building in June of this year – we knew we had an opportunity to do something really different.”

BALFOUR: I believe what we’ve created is the best cycling studio in London – possibly the world – setting a new bar for the sector.

The Experience Economy
Balfour continues: “At 6,500sq ft, 1Rebel Victoria is a good size: our five clubs range from 4,500sq ft to 8,500sq ft. However, the space in Victoria lent itself to the creation of an amazing cycling studio, so we opted to make it our first single discipline club.

“I believe what we’ve created is the best cycling studio in London – possibly the world – setting a new bar for the sector.”

He continues: “The building has amazing ceiling heights, so we were able to put horseshoe balconies into the studio: the riders above look down on the activity below. We hadn’t seen it done anywhere before and it was a big risk. We weren’t sure how it would work with Ride choreography – would people like being up on a balcony, looking down on the instructor? Right up to the last minute of the huge £2m fit-out project, we weren’t sure if we were going to do it. But we did and it works brilliantly, creating the sense of a cycling amphitheatre.”

1Rebel interieur london

Of course, if you have a space this huge, with so many cyclists – the studio features 83 Technogym bikes – you need to create an experience that’s big enough to fill it… and 1Rebel has proved it’s more than up to the challenge.

“As a business, we see ourselves as operating in the Experience Economy, and this new Ride studio absolutely delivers on that,” says Balfour.

“We have a 3D sound and AV system that’s currently only used in one other place in the world: the Sydney Opera House. We have laser shows, smoke machines, a huge LED screen, a sensory shower system that creates incredible special effects and lighting, and a remote-controlled scissor lift that raises and lowers the instructor platform throughout the class.
“Crucially, we also have amazing instructors who bring the whole thing to life. The music and overall choreography are set by 1Rebel, but our instructors are encouraged to inject their personality into every class, giving everything a sprinkle of their individual brand of fairy dust.

1rebel instructor

“We don’t want to rely on tech to motivate riders in our clubs: we believe the words that are spoken to you in class are as important as anything else. With our best instructors, the performance is akin to that of a rock star on-stage at Glastonbury.

“We therefore we look after them. Our pay is very competitive – that may well be why instructors come to us in the first place – but they stay because it’s a great place to work. It’s really fun, really social, with a great sense of team. In fact, 30 per cent of our instructors are home-grown – they might previously have been on reception, for example. It’s just a great place to work.”

our instructors are encouraged to inject their personality into every class, giving everything a sprinkle of their individual brand of fairy dust.

Continual evolution
Balfour continues: “Across all 1Rebel clubs, we ensure the experience extends beyond the studio too – and it has to constantly evolve so there’s always something new on offer for the demanding, Experience Economy audience. You can’t just put in eucalyptus-scented towels and a Smeg fridge when you first open and hope that will be enough.

“We have live music events, we take members on adventures, we have Prosecco Fridays – free, drink-all-you-can prosecco for a bit of Retox, because life isn’t all about training. The social spaces at our clubs are very important.

“Less exciting but equally important, we’ve also addressed some of the pressure points you commonly find in boutiques. For example, people in the UK expect all gyms, including boutiques, to offer showers. The Rebel Army – our loyal customer base – is 70 per cent female, so at Victoria we have 15 ladies’ showers. There’s a light outside each that shines red or white to show which are available.”

He adds: “We constantly reinvest in the business too. I believe, when you set out to open a boutique, you should double the budget you think you’re going to need. You have to constantly reinvent yourself.”

1Rebel Victoria cycle studio C102
At 1Rebel Victoria, a scissor lift raises and lowers the instructor platform throughout the class.

Ride again?
Design-wise, too, the club is equally eye-catching outside the studio as in it. “Studio C102, the architect we use across all our clubs, is great at adapting to the space and the location of each club,” says Balfour.

“For example, 1Rebel Southbank takes its inspiration from the Tate Modern, while 1Rebel Victoria takes its inspiration from the theatres that surround it – the whole design of the club is very dramatic. It’s quickly gained the nickname of ‘The Spaceship’ thanks to its modern design: its reflective reception desk, galvanised steel staircase, wall of light and exposed white lacquered brickwork.”

So, will 1Rebel open more standalone Ride studios? “At the moment, we’re looking at three new sites for London next year. These will all be standalone clubs, but they’ll be Rumble or Reshape,” says Balfour.

“In London, the challenge is always finding the right locations – we want ground floor retail frontage in iconic locations, with great landlords – so we have to adapt the offering to the building.

“However, if the right site were to come up, we’d absolutely do another standalone Ride club.”

The spaceship is flying

Prices at 1Rebel Victoria – nicknamed The Spaceship – are the same as at all 1Rebel clubs: £20 for a one-off class, down to £16 per class on a package, and with membership options also available.

“We currently run around 25 Ride classes a week at 1Rebel Victoria, but that’s because we always start lower and build up the timetable in response to occupancy,” explains Balfour. “We’ll ultimately offer around 50 classes a week.”

If the performance to date is anything to go by, things may need to be ramped up quite quickly. “The club only launched a couple of months ago, but our peak classes are already full,” confirms Balfour. “If I look at this week, for example, all 83 bikes for Friday’s 6.30pm class were booked up by Monday. I believe this will be our most profitable club.”

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