A decade ago, indoor cycling was pretty much relegated to a sweaty, crowded room at the local big-box gym.
Blending spin classes and motivational coaching, SoulCycle opened in 2006. One of its three co-founders later left and launched Flywheel, which offers a more competitive atmosphere, in 2010. People often refer to indoor cycling as "spinning," but the companies typically avoid using that trademarked term.
Given the success of boutique cycling studios, several fitness start-ups are putting their own spin on the concept, hoping to grab a slice of the growing industry.
Stephen Nitkin's idea for a boutique cycling company was born out of frustration with securing spots in his favorite New York fitness classes, including indoor cycling, yoga and boot-camp.
"The conversation started when we realized that over Christmas it was very difficult to get into the classes we liked," said the founder and CEO of CYC Fitness. Nitkin was also ready for a new role after more than a decade at Marquis Jet, which he co-founded and later sold to Berkshire Hathaway's NetJets.
"We thought it would be interesting to bring this to the college market, where there are young professionals, too," he said.
With funding from a small group of investors, Nitkin opened CYC Fitness's first two locations last year, in Austin, Texas, and Madison, Wis. The cities were chosen because of their fitness emphasis and progressive feel, he said. The company has raised about $3 million and plans at least two more locations, with one in the New York University area.
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To differentiate his company, Nitkin offers customers something lacking during his own college days at the University of Maryland: a healthy alternative to the bar scene. At CYC FItness, he said, "you can meet someone with similar interests."
Its pricing is also geared toward the college crowd. At $15 to $20, CYC's classes are well below the roughly $30 and up charged by many boutique cycling spots.