Every Thursday morning, my cycle studio fills with an array of participants, ranging from accomplished Ironman® finishers to preschool moms trying to maximize their minutes—and Nora, a 92-year-old great-grandmother. Together, we pedal like maniacs, laugh, sing a few refrains and walk out soaked through with sweat. In the cycle studio, participants of all ages and abilities can be motivated by being in a group, but riders can still slow down when they need to without sticking out. In fact, my own cycling journey began when I was pregnant and in search of a low-impact workout.
Indoor cycling is an ideal class for people at different fitness levels to work toward their personal goals. Even those with sensitive knees or bad backs can get a great sweat without aggravating their injuries. And there’s a reason why participants still use the saying “It’s just like riding a bike.” Indoor cycling is the perfect choice for a family-friendly workout.
Like any event, a Family Cycle class takes a little planning, but the payoff is huge. Here, we’ll look at a few reasons to give it a whirl, as well as how to get the idea rolling, encourage attendance, and develop a program that will make your visiting riders feel comfortable, confident and welcome.
Invite Their Family, Grow Your Community
Offering a specific class for visiting family can help build your cycle community in the following ways:
It’s Less Intimidating for Beginners
Whatever the workout is, it’s not easy to show up for the first time and set up next to a hard-bodied athlete in a dark room that looks like a dance club. That’s especially true of indoor cycling, which involves an unfamiliar piece of equipment with a readout, toe clips and adjustable parts. Even just getting set up to ride can be a challenge. However, you can ease beginners’ jitters by advertising that there will be a host of other untrained guests and that your workout will be designed with the uninitiated in mind. A new love for indoor cycling could be born!
It Builds Family Support
Even if family members don’t end up falling head over heels for the bike, it’s special for them to see what their beloved cycle-fanatics do when they disappear for a few hours every week. Also, sharing the experience of overcoming a challenge can deepen relationships. And once newcomers see how much fun your class is, they may be more supportive instead of pouting when they see their loved ones packing their gym bags.
It Builds Community Among Members
Some of your regulars may have been biking next to one another for years, exchanging nothing but chitchat. Once they get a chance to meet one another’s families, those regulars might discover they have interests in common, creating a stronger community within your class. Semiregulars may start to feel less “on the outside” and more bonded to the group. Being drawn into a strong community is one of the biggest factors in adhering to an exercise program; don’t underestimate the importance of scheduling programs that build these bonds.
Your Family Cycle Class Planner
Even if you’ve been a cycling instructor for years, creating a special event presents challenges that are different from hosting a weekly class. Here are some insights I’ve gained from planning these for my own membership.
Get the Word Out
Give yourself a lead time of 2 weeks or more to advertise. After you choose a date, announce it verbally to your classes (preferably at every class—people forget!), pass out plenty of guest passes, post fliers in your studio and put the details in your studio newsletter. Also, use your social media channels to connect with your regulars, and tag them with your invitation. Adding their actual names to your post means that their communities can see your event, which may encourage their loved ones to ask about it or sign up.
The invitations should include information that regulars will consider old hat, such as what to bring (e.g., whether they need their own towel and water bottle) and what to wear (sturdy-soled workout shoes so they won’t “feel” the pedals when they push). Encourage family visitors to arrive a few minutes early so you can help them set up the bike.
Offer Extra Incentives
See if you can get your hands on a giveaway or two for the participants. Check with health food stores or local restaurants for snacks, coupons or other branded swag. Remember to tout it as a family event, which may appeal to vendors—particularly those who want to supply beginning exercisers with equipment. Also ask your facility’s owner or manager if your studio would offer a 1-month membership or another prize (such as branded T-shirts and water bottles) to raffle off.
Also create a “party favor” for each participant, including your regulars. Think of it being like a goodie bag for a birthday bash. Include your class schedule and contact info.
For event-day tips and a sample family cycle workout, please see “How (and Why) to Host a Family-Themed Indoor Cycling Class” in the online IDEA Library or in the May 2018 print edition of Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.