Indoor cycling has long been a staple in fitness clubs, but recent years have witnessed a remarkable transformation in the way it’s being experienced and embraced. In an interview with Morten Andersen, Wexer’s Global Head of Content, we gained valuable insights into the future of indoor cycling by examining the trends driving virtual cycling growth.
From the surge in virtual indoor cycling to innovative entertainment formats and enhanced production values, let’s delve into the exciting shifts that are redefining this dynamic fitness experience.
Growth in Indoor Cycling: A Steady Climb
Indoor cycling has undergone a remarkable evolution, with virtual experiences taking center stage. According to Andersen, Wexer’s global club database reflects a significant upswing in indoor cycling content usage, accounting for approximately 60% of all plays in 2022, up from 53% in the previous year. This growth is particularly noteworthy, considering indoor cycling’s long-standing presence in the fitness realm. So, what’s driving this surge in popularity?
Virtual vs. Live: Bridging the Motivational Gap
One of the driving forces behind the increased adoption of virtual indoor cycling is the minimal drop-off in motivation between live and virtual sessions. Andersen highlights that while live instructors offer motivation, the nature of cycling doesn’t demand intricate moves, making the transition to virtual seamless. Combined with high-quality virtual production, the experience translates exceptionally well to the big screen. Moreover, the accessibility of indoor cycling, which doesn’t require high skill levels, breaks down barriers and fosters participation.
The Pandemic’s Impact and Tech Integration
The pandemic also played a pivotal role in the resurgence of indoor cycling. As fitness enthusiasts returned to clubs seeking intensity and human interaction, indoor cycling offered a convenient, low-impact, yet vigorous workout. Andersen also credits the integration of virtual technology into studio bikes for the discipline’s renewed appeal. Personal performance tracking and data measurement contribute to a more engaging experience, aligning with the trend of quantifying various aspects of life.
Wexer’s Diverse Cycling Content Offerings
Wexer’s extensive array of cycling content caters to diverse preferences and goals. Andersen outlines three main subcategories: Studio, Road, and 3D World classes. Studio classes, shot in a studio setting, offer instructor-led workouts suited for all levels. Road classes provide the allure of outdoor cycling through real-life video footage, while 3D Worlds introduce an immersive and limitless experience, animated and gamified for added engagement.
1. Studio Classes
Studio classes are shot in a studio-type setting and have an instructor leading the way and teaching the workout. Classic, simple and easy to do, these classes appeal to most users and are available in everything from beginners’ classes to HIIT-style workouts with maximum output needed from the participant.
Although Studio classes remain quite traditional, there’s been a significant step up in production values. These classes are often now filmed in nightclub-style venues, sometimes with live attendees in the room. That brings a new level of energy to the experience and means the instructor is interacting with people in the room. They may not be speaking directly to you, but if they talk to one of their participants about how they’re feeling after a track, chances are something will resonate with you too. It builds a sense of belonging and being part of that community.
Also in the Studio category, it’s worth noting what happened during lockdown, which is that all the boutiques went online to deliver their classes to customers at home. That created a whole new category of indoor cycling superstars, which in turn has forced everyone to raise their game: if you want to get in the saddle now to create cycling content, you have to be pretty good to be competitive.
2. Road Classes
Road class dominates in-club, bringing the entertainment factor that members want. The cycling footage takes participants on a tour through the great outdoors, following along as actual cyclists ride through different terrains. Two of our most popular classes take you through a beautiful national park and the Italian mountains, respectively. You feel like you’re cycling that route virtually, alongside the on-screen cyclists.
in the Road category, it’s all about production quality. You put a camera on a car to follow cyclists up a mountain and the picture is now crystal clear. Our content partners also include multiple camera angles, immersive shots, even drone footage. These videos are now as good as watching TV coverage of the world’s great road races. It’s a really immersive experience – plus as I mentioned before, it’s still the best of both worlds with an instructor present to guide you too.
3. 3D World Classes
3D Worlds are animated tours with on-screen graphics and metrics guiding the rider through any terrain and experience imaginable: you can be cycling through the sky, on the water, be chased by dinosaurs… there really is no limit to what’s possible. This field is being led by Intelligent Cycling, which is creating some excellent content.
“Although 3D Worlds is a new category, it’s already commanding around 11 % of our in-club plays, road accounts for around 70 % of in-club virtual usage, and Studio accounts for around 18 %.“
~ Morten Andersen, Wexer, Global Head of Content ~
In-Club vs. At-Home Cycling Preferences
Interestingly, in-club and at-home preferences diverge. While Road dominates in-club usage, Studio classes take the lead in the at-home setting. Andersen attributes this contrast to the competitive on-demand cycling market, catering to the varying preferences of recreational and competitive cyclists. The simplicity and guidance of instructor-led studio classes appeal to home users seeking effective and engaging workouts.
On our Mobile platform Studio classes account for around 60 per cent of indoor cycling plays. Road and 3D Worlds each account for about 20 per cent. At home, it seems exercisers still want a more traditional format.
The Future Unveiled: Entertaining and Integrated
The future of indoor cycling holds exciting prospects. Andersen predicts a stronger foothold for cycling as user demand for entertainment continues to grow. With the focus shifting towards immersive experiences, scenic footage, animation, and entertainment will take precedence. The integration of self-produced content through Wexer’s Connect feature will bridge the gap between live and virtual classes, enhancing the cycling experience.
Cycling Content Creator Perspectives: Entertainment as the Driving Force
We are very fortunate to have great cycling content partners on the Wexer platform who upload new content every week. Insights from cycling content creators underscore the role of entertainment in member engagement.
“Our cycling content partners provide a great amount of high quality content, combining entertainment with accessible and effective fitness training. We also keep an eye on cycling trends to continue to provide new content so the cycling experience never gets stale.”
~ Morten Andersen, Wexer, Global Head of Content ~
Brian Overkær of Intelligent Cycling emphasizes the fusion of gamification, metrics, and simplicity as pivotal for sustained engagement. Innovations in music like with the Intelligent Cycling’s Journey® Soundscape and their app’s community-building features highlight the evolving landscape. The app adds value to the membership and attracts new prospects by building club and instructor profiles that members can follow, like, and share.
“Up until now, studios have been focusing on hardware as their main investment. The future will increasing be about entertainment as the driver of member engagement. Anyone who can combine gamification, metrics, and simplicity will be a winner in the long run!”
~ Brian Overkær, Founder of Intelligent Cycling ~
In addition, SH1FT Fitness’s Will Brereton highlights the potential of hybrid content accessible across various bike setups, indicating a direction for future content development.
“We took our most popular virtual-only programme, R1DE, and reverse-engineered it into an instructor led format now taught by thousands of instructors worldwide. We actually have WEXER to thank for this, as it was requested and we used the data to shape the evolution of the live class experience.”
~ Will Brereton, Studio Content Creator for SH1FT Fitness ~
Has Your Club Embraced The Future Of Indoor Cycling
Wexer offers a gateway to a world of engaging and immersive fitness experiences for fitness clubs looking to optimize their indoor cycling offerings and for those curious about joining the indoor cycling revolution.
As indoor cycling continues to gain momentum, its evolution promises captivating experiences, innovative formats, and seamless integration. With entertainment as the driving force and tech integration enhancing user engagement, indoor cycling is poised to become an indispensable element of the fitness landscape. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a curious beginner, the future of indoor cycling holds a dynamic journey filled with excitement and transformation.
Reach out to your account manager to discover how you can enhance your indoor cycling studio and explore the future of fitness.