CycleBar Hillcrest offers a new way to exercise
By Lucia Viti
On your mark, get set, cycle!
CycleBar Hillcrest, San Diego’s landmark franchise studio, is taking The Hub by cycling storm. The boutique exercise arena offers fitness enthusiasts of all ages and fitness levels rides described as “unparalleled, multisensory, intoxicating journeys.”
High-intensity, calorie-clobbering, 45- to 50-minute sweat-fests are fueled by pulsating music and energetic instructors. A snazzy, three-tiered CycleTheatre features a state-of-the-art surround sound system and LED disco lighting. Forty-four top-of-the-line Schwinn Carbon Blues are equipped with personal performance monitors and two upper-body weighted bars. Riders have an obstructed view of the mirror and the instructor nestled atop a podium.
Two 85-inch television screens are perched high above the podium energizing riders to dance to synchronized music videos and track class/individual performance data mapped in real time. CycleStats — class ranking and performance stats — are emailed within minutes of class completion. Instructor playlists are also linked to Spotify post class for members to enjoy.
Riders are greeted by a fresh scent of eucalyptus upon arrival. A cheery lobby stands adjacent to a co-ed locker room, a water station that offers cold and room-temperature water, two unisex restrooms, and two private showers replete with body wash, shampoo and conditioner. Pampering amenities include complimentary cycling shoes, free water bottles, hair ties, lip balm, earplugs and cooled aromatherapy eucalyptus-infused post-workout towels.
Franchise owner Bob Franzetta described the boutique cycling studio as a fitness regime that “concentrates on doing one thing very, very well” while touting a business template that’s “not just a ride.” In addition to its signature amenities, CycleBar offers a “superior cycling experience” in an environment that fosters community, a feat “difficult to do in a large facility that’s part of an overall portfolio.”
“CycleBar is multisensory experience that offers a mixed population of diverse ages more than just a ride.” he said. “People of like interests meet here and make friends. Over time, people naturally socialize outside of CycleBar. We’re building community in today’s world of online communities where most people don’t even know their neighbors.”
Franzetta, chief financial officer at a local software company, describes himself as an “active user in boutique fitness.” The veteran marathon runner — 26 marathons including nine Boston Marathon qualifiers — sought CycleBar as business because its cardio-intensive workout reflects “who I am.” Franzetta said he endured an extensive vetting process to become a franchise owner to ensure that he was the “right person.”
“CycleBar’s a great fit for me,” he said. “We’re part fitness and part entertainment. People attend having made a wellness decision. But they also come because it’s fun.”
Classes are structured for safety and performance. Prior to class, “rider experienced specialists” assist with “safe” bike set-up.
“It’s amazing how many studios don’t do that,” Franzetta said. “We give riders the tools to cycle properly.”
Easy to read, lit monitors convey real-time performance statistics. Weight, age and gender profiles — information given upon registration — are incorporated into the mix. Measurements include resistance levels “to avoid blindly turning left or right,” RPMs — revolutions per minute, power tabulated as watts, calories burned and class ranking. Participants choose to opt in or out of the “leaderboard” challenges.
“People generally say yes to watching their progress on the leaderboard because racing’s fun,” Franzetta said. “Instructors race rows, men versus women, odd or even bikes — they mix it up. Racing is friendly competition and teamwork.”
Instructors, referred to as CycleStars, are noted as “equal parts educator, inspirer, magician, DJ, drill sergeant and friend.” The cycle aficionados strive to “change your life, one ride at a time.”
Franzetta took “hundreds” of cycling classes before auditions narrowed down the studio list to nine. Franzetti described the CycleBar Method Training as an “excessive process” that “leaves instructors prepared and knowledgeable.” No one ever “wings” class.
“Instructors don’t bring anything to class,” he said. “They prepare. They know the class they’ll teach.”
Music is chosen off-site and submitted into the CycleBar system. Workouts are never repeated. Instructors are encouraged to “mix up” their music to “keep it edgy and creative.”
“Music is key to the CycleBar brand,” Franzetta said. “Sprints work with movement. Riders dance on the bike, backed by science. Nothing is pre-packaged. No corporate templates. Our instructors develop their own classes according to our guidelines.
CycleStar Leah Rich describes teaching as a “unique experience.”
“Class doesn’t feel like a workout until you’re drenched in sweat,” she said. “The CycleBar brand offers a community environment that feels like a party. Instructors work hard to offer the best in personality, performance, safety, instruction and enthusiastic cheerleading. We’re DJs and light masters creating an environment that doesn’t feel like a workout.”
Rich described CycleBar’s instructor certification training as “exhausting” and “amazing.”
“We’re bonded as a team,” she said. “I know the hard work we put in to being the best as part of the CycleBar brand.”
Rich detailed the brand as a challenging yet safely structured class. Moving from drill to drill, nothing is “choppy.”
“We go all out,” she continued. “We create our own playlist and class structure, but follow guidelines to do so in a thoughtful way. CycleBar’s catch phrase, ‘hugs and high-fives,’ creates a positive community environment. Every instructor is unique — no cookie cutters here. I can recommend a class that would suit every rider.”
CycleBar also offers two, 30-minute “Free Intro to CycleBar” classes. Class schedules are established by studio demographics and location.
“We schedule classes for the Hillcrest market,” Franzetta concluded. “If you live within three miles of this complex, you’re coming here at least three times a week. The Hub is the only shopping center in Hillcrest with significant parking, which is good for customers.”
—Contact Lucia Viti at email@example.com.
Sara is the editor of San Diego Uptown News.