I'm not aware of a more true statement than "you can't be half pregnant" - which is typically used to admonish someone who appears to be doing something half way, while expressing the desire for complete results. It's becoming clear to me that many Club / Studio Owners (and Instructors for that matter) think they can successfully be "half pregnant" when it comes to offering and/or teaching virtual Indoor Cycling classes.
Lots of businesses try to be "half pregnant" and I've worked for a number of them 🙁 It may be caused by a lack of capital, human resources or a simple failure of leadership. In any event, the business in question decides to begin dabbling in some new product or service offering, rather than fully commit the time and resources needed to be successful. It rarely works out well.
My taxidermy business is getting a little slow... I know what to do... I'll start making cheese!
Customers are smart. They'll see through (or are confused by) these halfhearted attempts at pretending to offer a service, when you really don't - or only do so at a very minimal level.
If you offer virtual ride videos in your studio [wlm_firstname], I'd like you to ask yourself this question; are my students truly engaged by the virtual ride videos I show, or do they simply act as another distraction in your studio?
There are two distinct components that affect whether your students are engaged by virtual rides or are only distracted by them...
- Does the studio layout/design minimize distractions, while focusing your student's attention on the video?
- Does your teaching/coaching engage your student's in the video?
This post is getting long, so I'm only going to focus on the layout/design question for now.
I've been frustrated for years by one of the Life Time Fitness studios where I teach. Don't get me wrong, these studios are beautiful and are a real joy to teach in. I use virtual rides in most of my classes. But because of how studio is laid out, the video screens compete for attention with the multiple distractions shown here:
Many of our participants come to our classes looking for a mental break from the real world. They're inundated with thousands of visual images every day. Now consider the participant who's riding with me in this studio and all the different competing images she needs to ignore to stay focused on any-one-thing:
1) The basketball game being played outside the studio.
2) Me - the Instructor up front.
3) The clock
4) The actual video screen
5) The refection of the cute guy in the front row
6) The endless stream of people walking to adjacent studios
7) The reflection, of an endless stream of people walking to adjacent studios
Another studio where I teach has a similar problem, except it isn't the side wall that's glass, it's the back wall. I'm frequently competing for the attention of my (male) student's with the reflection of some attractive gal, doing bent-over-rows, on the gym floor outside the studio.
Now compare that studio with this Virgin Active studio in London:
Can you see how captivating it would be to have one large screen, with no mirrors and placing the Instructor off to the side? This studio becomes more like a theater. Calm, with no unwelcome distractions. With its dominate screen and black borders (no mirrors) riders can immerse themselves in the visuals, while you provide the additional context and coaching of a compelling virtual ride, that all will enjoy.
My point here is that if you're considering adding virtual cycling video capability to your studio, don't try to be "half pregnant". Consider the space you have to work with and decide if it really makes sense to add video, without some major changes. As tempting as it may seem, adding a couple of flat screen TVs, to an existing studio with mirrored walls, may not create the effect you were hoping for.
- Please come back to my class! - May 30, 2023
- My Life Time Instructor Teach Back - May 24, 2023
- I'm Fine, Thanks - May 21, 2023
I’m quite fortunate to have the opportunity to teach to Forward Motion Video at Team ICG® Academy in San Francisco which is very similar to the London ICG® Studio depicted in your post. If it gets better than that, well, one must have died and gone to the great indoor cycling studio in heaven.
I’ve been doing virtual rides at another studio as well but I’m very seriously considering ending them for the very reasons you aptly state.
The facility spent a lot of money to mount a projector and put the screen (push a button and it rolls down from the ceiling) on the wrong end of the room. Moreover, because of the odd shaped room the bikes don’t even face the screen which at the narrow end. Therefore I must turn the bikes to face the screen.
The projector (ceiling mounted) is great but they stand rowing machines up that block the view and the rowers cause shadows on the screen. So I have to lower the rowers for every virtual class as well as turn the bikes.
They did not curtain the windows so during the summer the west facing windows let in enough light in to wash out the screen.
A great idea, plenty of expensive assets but no experience with teaching to video. The room is an example of a wonderful studio gone wrong because someone didn’t know what they didn’t know, but thought they did.
Loved the article. With ICG®’s focus on using Myride®+ to shift indoor cycling toward video in live classes (and in virtual classes during off-hours), I spend a lot of my time talking to customers about the concept of “Immersion”. Immersion is the state of consciousness in which a person’s awareness of physical self is diminished or lost in an absorbing surrounding environment.
Because you’ve used video extensively and have studied ICG’s online education on creating immersion with forward-motion video, you know that the use of video in a studio without adequate AV conversion can limit it to a distraction, rather than the impressive asset it can be.
There’s both good and bad news. The good news is that video helps, even in a setting that doesn’t showcase it, or with an instructor who doesn’t make it part of the class (ICG calls that “No Interaction”). So, despite the many distractions shown in your photograph, video probably still enhances the IC experience for some members by enhancing studio atmosphere. (Direct testimony from participating members at Life Time Fitness and other video-using sites has told us this.) The bad news is that some club owners think this No-Interaction level is sufficient, and limit their investment accordingly.
Converting a studio to promote “Partial” and/or “Complete” interaction with video requires a greater investment: larger screens, no mirrors, control of ambient light and distracting views, high-quality projectors, repositioning of the instructor stage to the side, and a premiere delivery system, such as Myride®+. That’s a lot of change, which some club owners may resist. But it has worked everywhere it’s been used — and those club owners find it well worth the cost.
The better the video, the more programmable the delivery system, and the more complete the studio conversion, the better the member experience will be — all due to greater immersion. Immersion is the key. The studio in your photo can’t possibly create that, but that doesn’t mean video is just a distraction in IC.
That’s why this discussion is so important. Many companies that promote forward-motion video (FMV) for indoor-cycling classes produce DVDs. DVD is a great step forward, but, at this time, doesn’t promote much customer investment. To get a club owner to make the leap to superior FMV requires the impact of a true immersion experience.
This preview video from our booth at the IDEA convention in San Diego says it all: http://www.myrideplus.com/#!prettyPhoto/1/ .
We have created a new customer website for Myride®+ that answers all club owner questions with regard to studio design. It’s an open site: http://www.myrideplus.com .
If you click on Support and then on Audio Visual, you’ll access a wealth of information on studio considerations for teaching with Forward Motion Video.
I have no doubt about the impact Myride+ has had in the studios that use it. Click on Testimonials, and you’ll see an example of a well-designed studio for video — photos of a Myride+ studio at a Virgin Active club in the UK.
Also click on Testimonials to hear Tim Foster from Virgin Active discuss the impact that Myride+ and video programming have had on the most successful club chain the UK. As you can tell from the photos, they didn’t skimp on the conversion.