Indoor cycling has been a fitness phenomenon for decades, but at RYDE cycling isn’t just a workout: it’s a lifestyle. Located at River Oaks Shopping Center in Houston, Texas, RYDE embodies everything a successful business should in order to thrive in today’s market. From incorporating fitness-tracking technology to supporting charitable causes, RYDE is doing just about everything right. Below are five trending criteria RYDE embraces for business success.
RYDE calls itself a lifestyle destination. In business since April 2015, the indoor cycling studio benefits greatly from—well—being a fitness studio. In the age of social media and in the wake of the recession, consumers have drastically altered their spending habits, dedicating more of their disposable income to travel and sharable experiences and less to ordinary retail purchases. It’s a trend (in conjunction with the rise of ecommerce) that has upended the retail industry, prompting traditional retailers to reposition themselves as service providers instead of stores.
But RYDE is ahead of the game. In 2015, more than 50 million Americans belonged to health and fitness clubs, and according to the chief executive of the International Council of Shopping Centers, “restaurants, theaters and gyms are now taking up a greater share of [malls and shopping centers].” Regardless of retail trends, however, the fitness industry has always been quite steady, and according to one editor, “fitness is a thriving multibillion-dollar industry that shows no sign of slowing down.”
Unlike big-box gyms that offer open access to a wide range of fitness equipment, RYDE is a discipline-specific studio that offers instructor-led classes on a schedule. While some people prefer to workout independently in the larger gyms, IHRSA reports “a shift in the past few years from large multipurpose clubs to smaller gyms, boutique or sport-specific studios and fitness-only facilities.” Furthermore, 42 percent of health club members belong to a studio (instead of, or in addition to, a big-box gym).
Studios are becoming increasingly popular for a number of reasons, one of which is catering. No, not food catering (although RYDE does sell fresh cold-pressed juices from a local Houston company). Studios cater to their members by relieving them of decision-making. Big gyms come with many small decisions that must be made: what time to go, which machines to use, how many reps to do, what music to listen to, etc. Add all those decisions to the beginning or end of a work day and prepare for some harmful decision fatigue.
In a studio, however, the only decision a member has to make is what time to go. The studio and its instructors take care of everything else: from teaching the basics of the machine to planning the music playlist to making sure everyone does a cool-down. Not only does this service make working out easier for members, it also saves them time. Individuals don’t need to research how to use different machines, don’t have to plan and track complicated workout routines, don’t need to create playlists, and don’t have to wait for available equipment. As Donna Cyrus explains, “One-stop shopping is why small [studios] are doing well. It’s often the least amount of time for the maximum workout.”
As a result of being a small studio, RYDE is able to offer customers a tight-knit community dedicated to positive impact. Although larger chain gyms may offer a wide variety of classes and exercises, they often lack the accountability and motivation that smaller communities can provide. This community environment is another reason consumers are switching to “boutique” studios. As Shape Magazine explains, “the increase of smaller specialty studios” is “one of the hottest fitness trends” right now.
Smaller facilities often provide clients with much more than a workout. As one studio owner explained in Palo Alto Online, “A boutique fitness studio is very different from a gym. There are only classes here. You are never going to be alone here.” Such is the case with RYDE. The small studio provides a support system for their clients that encourages and challenges them. It’s an environment that makes working out less of a chore and more of a sport or a recreation.
And it’s that sport mentality that keeps consumers coming back day after day. Members look forward to seeing and working out with their “team,” which motivates them to keep their class appointments. It’s a psychological tactic many big-box gyms can’t offer. As Business Insider explains, many people can’t muster up enough momentum to get out of bed and drive to the gym in the first place. After all, there isn’t anything waiting for them in a giant, impersonal gym. But at RYDE, the energetic people and environment are something to look forward to, and a team will notice if a member doesn’t show up.
Giving back is “at the core of RYDE.” In addition to the numerous marathons and charity events RYDE and their members individually support, this year they are teaming up together to participate in the BP MS 150, a two-day bike ride raising funds for the National MS Society. Cyclists will bike roughly 150 miles from Houston to Austin on April 16 and 17. In addition to dedicating their time and energy to the cause, RYDE’s training program for the race allocates 20% of class fees and purchases to fundraising.
Although RYDE doesn’t support good causes in order to win over customers, studies show it certainly doesn’t hurt. As Equities reported earlier this month, “businesses are more likely to earn and keep the millennial dollar if their brand supports a cause,” and “nearly half of Millennials are drawn to brands that represent interests beyond the bottom line.” According to another study, “90% of Americans say they’re more likely to trust and stay loyal to companies that actively try to make a difference.” It’s good news for RYDE, which in its first year has already partnered with organizations like the Brian Cushing Foundation and Kids’ Meals Houston.
It’s not enough these days to offer great service in person; studios need to offer great service electronically, too. What’s electronic service? For RYDE it means a clean, simple website; online reservations and cancellations; a strong social media presence; and emails detailing personal fitness performance metrics.
Online class reservations are now essential for fitness studios. A consistent class at the same time on the same day each week may have worked a decade ago, but today consumers want and need flexibility in their schedules. In order to let members pick and choose which classes they attend, RYDE opens the week’s schedule on Sundays at noon, and it’s first come, first serve to reserve a bike. The online platform allows for instant cancellation as well, automatically making that empty bike available for someone else to reserve.
Social media is another must-have for most businesses. More than anything, a social media presence proves the legitimacy of a business. According to Inc., 70 percent of consumers are “more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social media site.” But RYDE does more than simply exist on social media. RYDE uses various social platforms to strengthen its community by bragging about team achievements and advertising current charity events. Some popular posts include a member’s 50th RYDE, an employee’s birthday celebration, and a group photo after a BP MS 150 training RYDE.
The most impressive technology found at RYDE, however, is the biking equipment. The actual bikes themselves (Schwinn AC Performance Plus with Carbon Blue) are indeed superior and they track important performance data, but it’s what RYDE has added to them that really steps up the game. The founders of RYDE wrote their own proprietary software for the bikes that emails performance metrics to their users. Immediately after a workout, members receive private emails that detail everything an indoor bike is capable of recording, from heartrates to distance to speed.
With the rise of wearable fitness technology, it’s no wonder RYDE has jumped on board. According to Dick Costolo, “The fitness industry is transitioning to a world of specialized studios and programs with a multitude of connected devices and software trackers.” It may seem unnecessary for a studio to offer tracking technology when so many of its members certainly have their own wearable technology, but it’s just one more way RYDE caters to their clients. The downside of Fitbits and other wearable fitness trackers is human error. More often than not, people forget these items at home or forget to charge them, rendering them useless. But RYDE takes care of the performance tracking, just like they take care of everything else.