During Christmas of 2011, Stephen Nitkin had a revelation when trying to book a fitness class.
“My buddies and I couldn’t get spots in any of our regular classes because the college kids were home on break and filling them up,” recalls the former owner of Marquis Jets (which he went on to sell to NetJets).
Fueled by this realization that college students craved city-quality boutique fitness, Nitkin went from selling $150,000 airplane rides to $18 rides on a spin bike. In 2012, he opened CYC Fitness studios in Madison, Wisconsin, and Austin, Texas, and at least four more are slated to open in 2013. The workout, created by Keoni Hudoba, has the party-vibe of SoulCycle and the athletic spirit of Flywheel.
CYC is the first boutique fitness experience created for the college market. Until now, staying fit in college usually meant either playing varsity or slinging sweat in a big, impersonal gym. So it’s a stroke of business genius, coupled with a karmic good deed, to bring fitness to a demographic more preoccupied with keggers and all-nighters. Imagine “Animal House” with a spin studio.
Nitkin enlisted group fitness dynamo Keoni Hudoba to create a unique spin workout for CYC. “Keoni is a tremendous success story in terms of his own personal weight loss, and he has an amazing personality,” says Nitkin.
Instructors go by the title Cycologists, and they’ll lead riders through a 45-minute class that torches up to 800 calories (or about 5 Coronas). “Almost every song is weighted,” says Hudoba, who has an equity stake in the company and selects and trains all the instructors. You’ll hold weights for 70 percent of the class—and not the teeny tiny ones. “What frat bro is going to want to do a bicep curl with a two-pound weight?” jokes Hudoba.
Moves from other sports like rowing, volleyball, and boxing are incorporated for a more sports-specific vibe. Oh, and did we mention the drum set where favored riders get to pound out the beat?
SHARING THE RIDE
CYC also plans to distinguish itself through its philanthropy and its social media approach. For every mile pedaled, a penny goes to CYC’s partner charities. And riders are encouraged to get involved with those charities off the bike, too.
Everything you do at CYC can be transmitted to your friends via social media. You can book your bike using Facebook, post your results, and invite your friends to ride with you. “We’re changing the paradigm in the fitness industry,” says Nitkin about the company’s ride-and-share ethos. And by putting college-age riders on spin bikes, it may also be changing the face of fitness. —Alexia Brue
Cyc Fitness is currently in Madison, WI, $16.50–$19.50 per ride, and Austin, TX, $18–$21.50, www.cycfitness.com
Get the scoop: Keoni Hudoba stopped by Well+Good to tell us more about the Cyc workout and studios in this 90-Second Interval video.
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