While opening a boutique studio dedicated exclusively to spinning is a high-risk investment, most facilities adding cycle-based offerings see substantial revenue growth.
Check out this guide to discover if spin studios are profitable and how to set up a strong indoor cycling program in your gym.
What is a spin studio?
A spin studio is a fitness facility specializing in spinning - a type of intense indoor cycling workout qualified by most as cardio. Spin class participants sit on indoor cycling bikes and pedal to the rhythm as instructed, with intervals of seated and climbing ("off the saddle") work.
However, spinning isn't only available in boutique indoor cycling studios - many gym franchise brands offer this type of workout alongside other types of activities. This business model comes with a much lower risk.
What types of spin workouts are there?
There are a number of spinning workout formats out there:
- rhythm-based (highly engaging and enjoyable to the participants due to satisfying build-ups and beat drops)
- watts-based (available to studios with bikes featured with power meters)
- heart rate-based (aiming to stay within a specified range of beats per minute)
Spin studio equipment
With spinning, it's all about the bike. NordicTrack, Peloton, and Echelon are just a few of the most popular brands on the market. After all, you don't want your members to associate your brand with faulty or uncomfortable equipment.
There are two main space layouts:
a) the instructor rides up front (often on a stage) with member bikes situated evenly across the room to give everyone a clear view
b) the bikes are set up in a semicircle, so users see each other as they go - this tends to give participants a strong sense of a team effort
Is it expensive to get started?
The startup costs for starting spinning classes are high as you need to invest in:
- adjustable indoor cycling bikes - they have slightly different handlebars than traditional indoor bikes. These bikes typically come with pedal clips for safety and gel saddles for extra comfort. The bikes are fully customizable - you can adjust seat height, handlebars, and resistance
- audio-visual equipment, including lighting systems, blinds, and sound systems with nightclub-quality music
- air con and fans
- sales and marketing costs
Is spinning good for you?
Like everything else, moderation is key.
A study from Sweden has found that "a single-bout of one-hour spinning exercise increases troponin T in healthy subjects" - a cardiac biomarker associated with endurance.
But spinning isn't ideal. The number one reason is that it's extremely easy to overdo it due to its environment and the "push-past-it" mentality that comes with it. Lower extremity injuries are common for frequent participants. At the same time, as people these days spend a lot of time sitting down, activities based on functional movement like resistance training can be more beneficial in the long term. For these reasons, it's advised for spin classes to be a part of a wider exercise routine rather than the only physical activity.
Are spin studios profitable?
Spin studios can definitely be a profitable venture. You may be wondering if the home cycling trend is detrimental for the industry.
For many, home cycling equipment is a valid alternative to costly gym membership fees - a trend that has gained a lot of momentum in lockdown. While it's definitely possible to cycle in the comfort of your home, in-person classes are much more engaging. Without doubt, loud music paired with an energetic instructor tends to give people more drive.
Luckily, spin has a strong social and community component to it. Members typically look for both a sense of accomplishment and belonging. Seeing others cycle (and suffer) in unison tends to make people work harder on reaching their fitness goals. This team aspect of spinning makes it a great customer retention instrument.
The good news is that despite the advent of home spinning, the group workout format stead still leads the way. The Les Mills 2021 Global Fitness Report spotlights that "class occupancy has reached 120% of pre-COVID levels in markets where capacity restrictions have lifted." Following more than a year of solitary home workouts, people are hungry to go back to group fitness experiences, with 67 percent of gym members preferring to work out in groups. Your job as a club operator is to make it an exceptional experience when they turn up at your club.
Are spin studios a growing trend?
In the fitness industry, trends change fast, but spinning is the one trend that has stayed relevant throughout the years.
Since its emergence in the 1980s, spinning has managed to spike interest and keep people engaged. According to IBISWorld market research, the 2021 US indoor cycling workout classes market size is worth $3bn, with over 7,000 businesses offering the service nationwide. In fact, indoor cycling group workouts were the second most popular fitness class (preceded only by HIIT) in 2021, as Les Mills reports.
Interestingly, 20% of the global health and fitness industry were either already doing or considered doing indoor cycling classes in 2018. The coronavirus pandemic resulted in the popularization of at-home spin services such as Peloton and Myx Fitness. Purchasing home cycling equipment requires a large initial investment which is a deterrent for many users.
Though the pandemic has significantly hurt the industry, "some factors that pressured industry revenue during the previous five-year period are expected to rebound" according to market researchers. That said, the 2022 events have brought a whole new level of uncertainty to the future spending ability of customers worldwide.
How to use spin classes to generate additional revenue?
As the number of fitness studios offering spin classes increases, the fight for attracting and retaining members becomes an uphill battle. Here are the 6 key tactics to improve your fitness center revenue with spin.
1. Try video games
Virtual cycling broadens the appeal of spinning and helps reach new audiences, especially younger audiences. Gamifying solo workouts is also a great way of motivating people to exercise outside of groups.
2. Reduce investment risk
Modern customers look for a more varied form of workout which can't be completed in indoor cycling studios without other gym equipment. For many, paying for a gym membership offering all the complimentary fitness services is seen as more valuable. Gyms and fitness studios generally provide a better alternative to boutique spin clubs just because there's a lot more you can do for the price of one membership.
3. Deliver personalized experiences
It's all about providing the participants with memorable, engaging experiences. Thumping music and enthusiastic instructors are key to creating group atmosphere members will want to return to.
There are many great instructors sharing their workouts online - it's important for you to update your knowledge to ensure you're on top of your game. The right lighting, music, and ambiance can make the workout a lot more interesting and memorable. Some studios offer classes that feel more like a rave than a workout - check out this workout by Kristina Girod, Founder + CEO @_powerandflow
4. Stay relevant
Quality of music is the second biggest decision-making factor for participants, Stages Cycling and ukactive Research Institute research says. As spin classes rely heavily on music, making sure it's relevant is a priority. You can also experiment with more nostalgic themes, such as 90s pop cycling setlists and see how your audience responds to these ideas.
5. Inspire your participants
New research has found that "instructors are the biggest single influencer on an exerciser’s decision to attend an indoor cycling class."
A good spin instructor is:
- caring and trust-worthy
6. Maximize attendance with gym management software
Last but not least - dedicated gym management software can help you facilitate running classes in a number of ways:
- booking management - it's easier to get pack your gym with last-minute notifications of freed-up spots, as well as send push notifications and reminders to members
- class recommendations - you can recommend new activities based on the behavior patterns of your customers
- attendance predictions - identify customers at the risk of churning and design personalized retention mechanisms to increase Customer Lifetime Value
So, the big question is: are spin studios profitable? They can be, especially if they're part of bigger fitness businesses.
Adding a spin class to your gym offer is definitely an avenue worth exploring and a great class with an energetic instructor can help you propel your gym forward.
That said, opening a boutique cycling studio is a big risk. Customers these days expect to get a well-rounded workout, and ideally be able to lift, run, spin, and do yoga using a single membership. Instead of having to pay for two standalone memberships, people tend to select facilities that give them more bang for their buck.
To quote Philip Drucker, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Whatever you decide, make sure to get gym management software to maximize ROI of your spin facility.