When it comes to workouts, I’m more of a yogi than a cardio queen. I could spend two hours in hot yoga and feel great with a nice glow but you put me on a treadmill for two hours and I will look like I’ve killed someone – and I will likely want to, too.
So when I was approached to try the newest fitness studio in Cobb, CycleBar, I have to admit that I hesitated. Me, in a spin class, with photographic evidence published for all of Cobb would not exactly be my crowning moment.
But when I stepped onto the bicycle in the chilly studio, with “PYT” blasting and good energy owing from the instructor and the room, I knew this would be much different than that 5 a.m. boot camp torture I once belabored through.
East Cobb residents and owners Lee Osterling and Kirsten Rickers have known each other for 15 years after meeting while playing tennis in the Sibley Forest neighborhood. Their children are fairly close in age and attended the same schools so it was only natural that they would become friends.
Now, they are also entrepreneurs.
“We made jewelry together and enjoyed working together, so we started looking for franchise opportunities,” Osterling said. Rickers was already a group fitness manager for a women’s gym and Osterling had a background in finance and accounting so a fitness studio seemed like the best fit.
In the summer of 2015, Osterling made a simple google search for fitness franchises and came across CycleBar, an indoor cycling franchise. After more research and a visit to the franchise’s Cincinnati, Ohio headquarters in September 2015, the duo were energized and knew they wanted to open a CycleBar.
“We were ready for it to be open as soon as possible, of course, but owning a business and finding the right space takes time,” Rickers said. “We somehow talked our husbands into agreeing that this was a good idea, and they’ve been very supportive. It was a year-and-a-half of a lot of working dinners with the four of us and a bottle of wine on the table.”
After finally finding the perfect space in the Parkaire Landing retail center at the corner of Lower Roswell and Johnson Ferry Roads in Marietta and spending months on planning, inventory and development, the duo opened CycleBar East Cobb’s doors with a soft opening on March 27. They “auditioned” 52 instructors, or cycle stars as they are called in the CycleBar world, and hired seven.
“This is not the spin class of 10 years ago, or even today,” Rickers explained. “These classes are a lot more entertaining. The cycle stars are entertainers themselves and you ride to the beat of the music. The sound system is awesome and you’re in a dark room so there isn’t a lot of judgment in the room.”
“We have one woman who has already come six times in a week, and she is probably in her 70s or 80s. She’s in the same class with someone who participates in triathlons but they’re both getting a great workout and having fun. That’s the great thing about these classes is that anybody can ride a bike,” Osterling said.
Anyone? I’m not exactly out of shape, but my idea of an enjoyable bike ride is taking my bicycle the mile from my house to the Marietta Square for the farmer’s market – not exactly the mega-workout of a spin class.
But when I stepped onto the bike and our instructor, Victor Hall, began encouraging us and blasting perhaps my favorite song ever, “PYT” by Michael Jackson, I realized I might actually enjoy this. The goal is to stay on the RPM number that Victor – with his ripped muscles and kind smile – gives you, as that is the specific RPM that will keep you on the beat of the music. I over- and undercompensated a time or two, but I found I was more focused on the music and the RPM than I was on whether my legs would turn to spaghetti.
The workout also involved going up and down on the seat, arm presses and other workouts that didn’t just involve spinning the wheel. Afterwards, I felt energized with a list of songs to add to my Apple Music library. The next day the spaghetti legs kicked in, but that just told me the workout was a good one.
“I love it when people say, ‘I had no idea I could do this, it has totally changed the way I work out,’” Rickers explained. “So many people are intimidated by group fitness but this is different and people really do feel good when they leave.”
Indeed, I did feel good, I didn’t die and I didn’t want to kill anyone. For me, that was a successful cardio experience.