Update from John: This post was originally published in June of last year, shortly before we lost Jim. I thought Jim's wisdom could add to our current conversation about SoulCycle, so I'm re-publishing this today.
By Team ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas
Why would anyone want to do it? It’s crazy. What about the bike? Connecting with it. Feeling the road. How can anyone NOT want to feel the road? Rhythm, timing, breathing. It’s in our DNA.
It won’t last. Silly trend. Dance parties on bikes with music videos can’t last. You can’t even call it training. It’s just physical movement, not sure it’s even considered exercise. It’s totally without direction.
There are some heavy hitters out there who will slam Non-Authentic Indoor Cycling and talk about it with contempt. Read the blogs and forums. It’s important to have beliefs – something you stand for that defines you as a professional.
Am I sure? Absolutely not. Is Non-Authentic Indoor Cycling bad for Indoor Cycling? That’s a good question and the topic of this post.
I teach Authentic Indoor Cycling. I ride bikes outdoors and always seek to bring to my students what the road and trail teach me. The bike has taught me many lessons that I’ll share with anyone who wants to attend my classes and has the patience to listen to my rhetoric.
Fitness reached a pinnacle with indoor cycling. Finally, we had a way to communicate fitness concepts that were not based on hype or adrenalin. Eclectic music. Quality training. Depth. Achievement. Millions of dollars in revenue!
It wasn’t only about the money, but do you really believe that indoor cycling would be here today if it didn’t make money? Fitness is a $12.5-billion industry, and indoor cycling helped it get there. Whatever makes money will drive fitness.
Zumba is a classic example and should be a lesson to everyone. It’s simple choreography, not unlike what I used to teach as an aerobics instructor back in the ‘80s, with the addition of a little Latin dance and hip-hop. The instructors don’t even cue. Yet Zumba is a half-billion-dollar-a-year company. Which shows you what dazzling branding, marketing, and a single-minded focus on building a culture can do for a fitness program.
Do you think Zumba is a fad? Not with those revenues.
What about non-authentic indoor cycling? How about SoulCycle? It hurts; it really does. But if you believe that SoulCycle is going to fade away because it’s not authentic, then I believe you’re misguided. The SoulCycle brand is strong, their marketing is incredibly strong, AND they now have strong financial support after having been purchased by Equinox.
Something else: they’re building one hell of a culture. Friends of mine who have never taken my class come up and say with wide-eyed enthusiasm, “Do you know that SoulCycle is coming to San Francisco?” I ask, “Why would you take a class there when you haven’t yet come to mine?” No response.
I believe that non-authentic indoor cycling will become a significant trend in the Fitness Industry. ICG® is an authentic indoor cycling company. We believe in proper training principles and we all ride bikes, yet we’re not blind.
If non-authentic IC is going to make a mark, why not embrace it for what it is – a way to train on the bike that makes (some) people fit and happy? Assuming it’s validated as safe and effective (ICG has already contacted the American Council on Exercise and proposed a study), then shouldn't every indoor cycling education body offer a program on how to teach non-authentic indoor cycling? Why shouldn’t any and every indoor cycling program be taught by those who are truly qualified to teach indoor cycling? That would be the likes of us. We know indoor cycling best. We could create a program – inauthentic fluff, if you will – that’s still authentic in its safety, structure and cardiovascular benefit. Why not?
It need not (and would not) diminish our authentic style of teaching, and it just might make all of us some money.