The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



From educational tools and events to promotional programs and public policy initiatives, IHRSA brings you success... by association!

Join | Renew
Pledge Your Support

Search IHRSA Blog

Welcome to the IHRSA Blog

The Online Home of news.

Blog Home |  Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Entries in SoulCycle (9)


How Should You Respond to a Case of Meningitis at Your Gym?

Recently, SoulCycle found themselves wondering the same thing. Earlier this month, a SoulCycle rider died of bacterial meningitis at a location in northern California.

Here’s what you need to know about meningitis and how you can take action to make sure an outbreak is handled properly. 

Continue reading "How Should You Respond to a Case of Meningitis at Your Gym?"

Click to read more ...


'Tis the Season for Gift Certificates... Health Clubs Beware!

This post was originally published in the IHRSA Advocate.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $27.5 billion on gift certificates this holiday season, making them the second most popular gift after clothing and accessories. Gift certificates are frequently used to sell everything from clothes and electronics to personal training sessions and classes. While gift certificates may be a great opportunity for health clubs to boost end-of-year revenue, there are traps for the unwary.

SoulCycle Washington D.C. (Picture P. Bedford)

SoulCycle has become embroiled in a potential class-action lawsuit—Cody, et al v. SoulCycle, Inc.—over its handling of classes sold in packages ranging from one class to 50. The cycling packages come with different expiration dates depending on the number of classes purchased. A single cycle class expires after 30 days, while 50 class packages are good for 12 months.

The customers suing SoulCycle claim that the class packages are actually gift certificates and the short expiration dates result in lost money for consumers and unjust gain for SoulCycle—in violation of state and federal law. Federal law prohibits the sale of gift certificates that expire in less than five years, while California Civil Code prohibits the sale of gift certificates with any expiration at all.

SoulCycle filed a motion to dismiss the case arguing that their class packages could not be applied toward the purchase of a more expensive good or service and therefore should not be treated as gift certificates. U.S. District Court Judge George King granted SoulCycle’s motion to dismiss the claim of a state law violation but denied the motion to dismiss the federal claim, meaning the class-action lawsuit will advance.  

While the ultimate outcome of the SoulCycle case will not be know for some time, it serves as a good reminder that if you sell gift certificates or are considering doing so, that while there may be no better time of year to sell them, make sure you know the rules of the road when doing so. For instance, some states mandate that merchants provide cash back when the gift certificate balance is low. In California, gift certificates with a cash value of less than $10 are redeemable in cash. It is important to be aware of the gift certificate laws where you operate. If you have questions or comments, please send them to


This Week in the Fitness Industry: MyFitnessPal Users Choosing Barre, SoulCycle

More MyFitnessPal Users Attending Barre, SoulCycle, HIT Classes
The number of MyFitnessPal users who attend exercise classes are favoring “upgraded fitness experiences” such as indoor cycling and Barre, according to data from the fitness tracking app. Findings showed that the use of Barre classes grew 3% from 2014 to 2015, with SoulCycle growing 38% and high-intensity impact training climbing 14% during the same time period. What’s more, use of Orange Theory Fitness grew by a whopping 170%. Glennis Coursey, coaching lead at Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal, attributed Orange Theory's rapid growth to the fact that its classes are targeted toward both men and women, while more women attend Barre and SoulCycle classes than men, Entrepreneur reports.

Study: Wearable Fitness Trackers Don’t Motivate Exercise
A study by researchers at Oklahoma State University suggests that fitness trackers don’t motivate users to exercise more, reports Science Daily. For the study, researchers gave a group of physical education students monitors, telling them they would measure the amount of sunlight the students received each day. Later, researchers gave the group another monitor, informing them they would count the number of steps they took each day. The catch—both sets of monitors actually measured how active the fitness buffs were. The results: the students were not more active when they knew their steps were being counted. "You need to take 10,000 steps a day to equal 30 minutes of light-to-moderate physical activity a day, and you should really do an hour a day to be healthy," one researcher said. "Students in the study took 11,000 or 12,000 steps a day, which isn't much above the minimum, and their activity didn't change with the monitoring. We expected them to model good fitness, but now we wonder what we can do to get people to be more physically active!"

U.S. Department of Labor Releases New Federal Overtime Rules
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published new federal rules on overtime. The new rules, a response to President Obama’s directive to update regulations for the Fair Labor Standards Act, which were last updated in 2004, go into effect on December 1, 2016. The rules amend what is known as the White Collar Exemption for certain workers that have historically been excluded from overtime protections. These workers are described in the regulations as “Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees.” Despite receiving written comments from tens of thousands of individuals and organizations stressing the serious harm that the changes would cause, the DOL made few changes to rules as originally proposed in 2015. Read our full coverage on the new federal overtime rules.

151.5 Million Members Get Active at More Than 186,000 Health Clubs
In 2015, global health club industry revenue totaled $81 billion, as 151.5 million members visited nearly 187,000 clubs, according to the just-released The 2016 IHRSA Global Report: The State of the Health Club Industry. The top 10 markets account for roughly two out of three health clubs and three out of four members worldwide. While the U.S. leads all markets in club count and memberships at 55 million and 36,180, respectively, Brazil is second in club count at 31,809, Germany second in number of members at 9.5 million. All three markets are also among the top 10 worldwide in revenue with the U.S. ranking first ($25.8 billion), Germany second ($5.4 billion), and Brazil seventh ($2.4 billion). “This year’s report shows collective growth in markets worldwide, with mature markets leading the way,” said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of global products.

EEOC Clarifies Rules on Employee Wellness Program Incentives
Employers can offer workers financial incentives of up to 30% of the cost of their cheapest health insurance plan to participate in wellness programs without violating federal laws protecting the confidentiality of medical information, according to final rules released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The rules are meant to clarify the way two federal laws protecting employees' medical privacy apply to the popular programs, which are designed to control medical spending by reducing obesity, smoking, and other risk factors, Reuters reports. The rules are a result of a compromise between U.S. businesses and the EEOC, which previously held that providing incentives for voluntary wellness programs rendered them involuntary, and therefore illegal. 


The Rise and Rise of Boutique Clubs

The following was originally published and written by Paul Bedford, Retention Guru. 

It started before Soul Cycle—an underground movement with small groups of exercise enthusiasts turning up to workout together. They shared a common desire to train hard, suffer together rather than alone, motivate each other, and recognize individual and group achievement. They shared a common goal—maximize the workout and share the experience. 

The industry looked at it as a fad, something on the periphery, a small group of enthusiastic spinning participants, yoga devotees, and Olympic lifters. 

Then, when Soul Cycle revealed $112 million in annual sales, people took notice. On the surface it looked easy to replicate. Take a small space, give it a funky appearance, coin a unique training approach, and charge by the class not by the month. 

Create a quality workout and user experience, make sure you can deliver those same high standards over and over again, price it above the norm to create some level of exclusivity.  

SoulCycle Washington D.C. (Picture P. Bedford)

In the past six months I’ve tried these sessions for myself. Soul Cycle in Washington D.C. was my first real boutique experience. 

When it was time to ride, my first observation was the amount of participants still hanging around from the previous class. They stood in reception talking, laughing and sharing stories, dressed in this season’s workout collection. A few even wore Soul Cycle New York or L.A. tops to show they’ve been riding in various locations. It was a tribe, not just a group of people who happened to do the 5 p.m. class. A community. 

I chose the class based on two things: the time slots available and the instructor’s music choice, posted on the website, which meant I knew ahead of time the music I could expect. Not only was it a great workout, but riders that recognized I was new asked how I got on once it was over. 

Continue reading "The Rise and Rise of Boutique Clubs."

Click to read more ...


This Week In the Fitness Industry: Former Twitter CEO Announces Fitness Platform, SoulCycle Partners with Target

SoulCycle Partners with Target for 10-City Retail Tour, Apparel Collaboration
SoulCycle is teaming with retail chain Target to bring co-branded workout attire and cycling classes at select stores in 10 U.S. cities. “SoulCycle’s signature studio cycling classes are a rising trend—the 45-minute, high-intensity workouts (complete with candlelight and rocking music) have already captivated fitness enthusiasts in several U.S. cities,” said a Target press release. “Now, we’re broadening the program’s reach to give even more guests unprecedented access to this highly sought-after experience." The SoulCycle parternship is Target's first fitness collaboration; past partnerships have involved high-end fashion houses, such as Lilly Pulitzer and Rodarte. Read more in The Atlantic’s “Sweat: The Hottest Accessory.”

Brunswick Adds Cybex to Its Life Fitness Division for $195 Million
Brunswick Corporation, owner of Life Fitness, announced that it has acquired fitness equipment maker Cybex International for $195 million. Cybex’s cardiovascular and strength products span the commercial fitness market, including treadmills, exercise bikes, the Cybex Arc Trainer, plate-loaded weight equipment, and free weights. Cybex’s 2015 sales were estimated at about $169 million. Read IHRSA’s coverage of the acquisition here.

Study: Yoga Improves Mobility for Adults Over 60
Yoga can improve mobility for adults over age 60 and may help to prevent falls, according to research by The University of Sydney. For the study, researchers analyzed six trials, with a total of about 300 participants. The programs were each led by a certified yoga instructor and tended to include 60 to 90 minutes of yoga once or twice weekly for a total of two to six months. “These results are exciting but not particularly surprising since there is evidence from other research that similar types of exercise programs, Tai Chi, for example, can improve balance and mobility in older people,” the study’s senior author told Reuters. “What is exciting about the results is that significant improvements occurred in balance and mobility as a result of relatively short programs of yoga—the average number of hours offered was 20 hours.”

Former Twitter CEO Plans to Launch Personal Fitness Platform
Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said he is launching a new personal fitness platform, according to The Wall Street Journal. He co-founded the company with Bryan Oki, CEO of health and wellness consulting firm Fitify Inc. "We're building a software platform that reimagines the path to personal fitness," Costolo wrote in his announcement on Twitter. "This platform will go beyond measurement to motivate and drive improvement and make the road to personal transformation fun and social. For wellness professionals, from fitness coaches to physical therapists and nutritionists and more, out platform will be the easiest and most flexible way to extend expertise and guidance by orders of magnitude."

Study: Fitness Trackers Encourage Walking, Discourage Fun
A new study has found that, while fitness trackers succeed in encouraging wearers to walk more, it also zaps users' fun. Researchers from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business conducted six experiments for the study, which will publish in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, New York Magazine reports. They gave 100 participants pedometers and covered some of the displays with tape. Results showed that 70% of those with visible displays checked them regularly and it made them take more steps, but ultimately made walking feel like work.


Dream Machines

Machine-based cardiovascular workouts—e.g., running on a treadmill— have long been a solitary, solo sort of affair. Now, however, club members no longer need to go it alone.

Today, the equipment on your cardio floor is muscling its way into the group fitness studio. This relatively new phenomena is enticing clients to sweat more and giving clubs a significant upgrade in terms of retention and secondary revenue.

The way you offer group fitness might never be the same again.

New roles for machines

First, there were the bikes.
Group cycling, now nearly three decades old, is still going strong, and seems to be unstoppable. In fact, wheels are spinning feverishly, not only in traditional clubs, but also in facilities dedicated to the practice. For instance, Soul Cycle, based in New York City, has more than 40 studios across the U.S., staging classes that are consistently sold out, and is planning to expand in Europe.

Given this, the question many in the industry are asking is: If bikes can do it, why not other types of equipment, too?

As a result, manufacturers, club owners and operators, and fitness professionals are all looking at equipment in an entirely new way, and weighing the promising possibilities.

Treadmills are, perhaps, the front-runners in this growing trend. Crunch Fitness, the ever-entertainment- minded, New York–based brand, offers sessions such as Tread N’ Shed and Runway, both of which utilize treadmills. And Orangetheory Fitness, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida–based fitness franchise, features a 60-minute workout that employs treadmill-based intervals.

“People want to train smarter. And harder,” points out Deborah Warner, the founder and program director of the Mile High Run Club (MHRC), a 4000-square-foot boutique treadmill studio in New York City. “They’re eager for better results, and these classes deliver them.” Her facility, open 7 days a week from as early as 6 a.m. until as late as 9 p.m., offers classes such as Dash28.

The 45-to-60-minute classes cost $34 each.

Warner is a former instructor for Equinox, the Manhattan-based chain that offers its own take on group treadmill classes as part of its Precision Running program, and which, coincidentally, also operates Soul Cycle.

For Warner, machine-centric group workouts
 are definitely not a passing trend. “There’s great
potential here to equal the success of group
cycling,” she contends. “The music, the lights, the group dynamic, the accountability, and the coach
who guides and inspires you—they make this a
compelling option with definite staying power.”

It also appeals to a wide demographic. “We’re attracting beginners, as well as the advanced, elite, competitive runners,” she explains. “There are far more indoor runners than indoor cyclists, and treadmills are actually the No. 1 most popular type of cardio equipment.”

MHRC makes use of 30 treadmills provided by Woodway USA, and, Warner reports, “They’re in a league all their own—built like a tank.”


Read more

Click to read more ...


This Week in the Fitness Industry 7-18-14

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.netWe often boast about the variety of offerings in This Week in the Fitness Industry. We need to take back all of the times we patted ourselves on the back for what we thought were accomplishments 

How about this for variety:

  • lower social well-being may result in obesity
  • which states have the highest percentage meeting physical activity guidelines?
  • what to look for in fitness app
  • private equity firms gobbling up health clubs and chains

Check out This Week in the Fitness Industry for all of these stories.


A company with soul is still growing

What started out as providing a place for Spinning enthusiasts has turned into quite an empire.

SoulCycle opened in 2006 and sees up to 6,000 people every day to its 24 locations. And, now after being purchased by the Equinox chain, the plans are to open up to 15 new studios a year. Soulcycle is currently in New York and California but the future expansion will include Boston, Washington, D.C., and London.

Some of the reasons SoulCycle has been so successful are straying away from the typical gym model with 110 of its 140 instructors full-time employees, no specials like frequent customers or trial classes, and an emphasis on products with the SoulCycle logo.

For more on the success of SoulCycle, read the Fast Company story.


Different kind of spin class has plenty of soul

SoulCycle is all the rage. Aside from being amazingly beneficial as a workout, it also provides many with a place for therapy and a high they have never experienced before.

The idea - a spin class taken up a few notches - was born out of a lunch with co-founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, set up by their spin instructor and former co-founder Ruth Zukerman. The classes, whcih cost $30+ and sell out within minutes, are held in dark and hot studios. The music is loud and riders pedal on the beat and follow along to choreography while instructors offer yogic inspiration.

SoulCycle, which recently partnered with Equinox Fitness Clubs, now has 14 locations, with at least 17 planned for 2013.

For more, read the New York Magazine article