In April, PUMP started the Local UpLift – a weekly email featuring a local health and wellness business and their current online programming. The Local UpLift aims to collectively support our community, and connect you with the great work of our neighbors.
With gyms receiving the green-light to reopen in Allegheny County we thought you might have questions about the measures gyms are taking to ensure their customers safety. To add to our 7th Local UpLift, PUMP staffer Jaime sat down and chatted with CycleBar North Hills owner, Greg Venbrux to learn more about CycleBar and their Covid-19 safety measures.
To start, please tell us a bit about CycleBar:
CycleBar is the world’s first premium indoor cycling franchise. CycleBar studios offer an inclusive and inspiring low-impact/high-intensity indoor cycling experience for all ages and body types. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, our class experience promises to calm your mind, elevate your mood and revive your senses.
We offer premium amenities, free shoe rentals, performance metrics that track your improvement over time, links to our playlists, and a fun community environment for all our classes. The name of the game at CycleBar is fun and convenience, so we try to take the hassle out of working out.
CycleBar North Hills is family owned and operated by residents living in your community. Since we first opened our doors in September 2017, we have been offering classes continuously until COVID-19 required us to close temporarily in March. It’s been a long wait, but we’re finally happy to announce we will be offering live classes again on June 9 during Pennsylvania’s “green” phase.
Although we provide an intense workout that is great for physical fitness, we’re more than just a “gym.” Our studio provides an important social function for the local community. Many of our members have developed lasting friendships while working out together, resulting in a real “family” atmosphere that sets us apart from larger traditional gyms. In addition, our studio tries to give back to the local community by supporting other local businesses and regularly hosting “CycleGives” rides, which is CycleBar’s fundraising arm. Our CycleGives rides benefit both local and national charities.
How has Covid-19 affected CycleBar?
Like most small businesses, the pandemic has created many difficult challenges for our studio.
The extended closure caused by the pandemic was a very difficult reality to face as a small business. Since then, we have gradually adapted by renting out bikes to our members, providing virtual classes, and selling retail remotely. We are grateful that several of our loyal members purchased gift cards, ride packages, and retail to help support our studio. The generosity of our riders has truly been appreciated, and it has allowed us to retain most of our staff.
But we also understand that these are very uncertain times and many people remain nervous about the health ramifications of COVID-19. The safety of our riders and employees is our number one concern. That’s why we’re making significant investments in our studio so that our CycleBar family can feel safe when we finally reopen our doors next week!
What has CycleBar been up to since we entered Red/Yellow Phases in March?
Since we closed on March 16, our studio has been very busy reinventing itself. We’ve used this time to develop new virtual classes, which we now offer at a very reasonable rate. Our classes are recorded at the studio and are available on-demand, so riders can watch them when it’s convenient for them. We also offer a virtual membership that includes non-bike based workouts for people who might not have any equipment at home. We’ve also rented out many of our bikes, sold retail, and found new ways and creative ways to help our members stay healthy during our closure.
Although this pandemic has been a challenge, it’s also given us time to improve so we can reopen stronger than before. We’ve used this time to train our staff on new safety procedures, take educational courses to improve our customer experience, reconfigure the layout of our studio to allow for limited class sizes and increased bike spacing, redecorate, and make major improvements to the studio itself. One of the biggest improvements we’ve made is to our ventilation system, which now has the state-of-the-art RGF Reme-Halo air purifier, which kills 99% of viruses and bacteria in the air and on surfaces that the air touches.
What measures are you putting in place for the safety of your clients once you are allowed to reopen?
The safety of our riders and staff is our priority. Consequently, we’ve made a lot of improvements to our studio to prepare for our reopening next week. One of our biggest changes is our new state-of-the-art RGF Reme-Halo air purifier, which kills 99% of viruses and bacteria in the air and on surfaces that the air touches. This filter uses advanced oxidation technology that has been proven to kill 99% of bacteria and viruses in the air, as well as on surfaces that the air touches. This will go a long way in improving the safety of our classes, especially for our immunocompromised riders.
We’ve also hired professionals to sanitize not only our studio, but the shoes that we provide to our customers when they take a class. In addition, we’ve purchased heavy-duty cleaning equipment that will help us keep our space as clean as possible.
But perhaps the most noticeable change to our studio will be to our new safety procedures. We’ve made the check-in process at our studio touchless by enabling customers to check into class via the CycleBar app. This way, all they need to do when they come to the studio is pick up their sanitized shoes without worrying about checking in with the front desk. We’re also going to be limiting class sizes, spacing bikes 6 feet apart, and increasing the time between classes so we can do a deep clean after each class.
We are hopeful that these measures will give our customers confidence that we’re doing everything in our power to ensure a safe, clean environment for everyone.
What changes will you need to make to your gym services?
The safety of our riders and staff is paramount. Therefore, we’re making major changes to our classes, our studio, and to our day-to-day procedures. One of the most noticeable changes will be to our class size. WWhen we reopen our studio next week, our class size will be limited, and our bikes will be spaced 6 feet apart.
We’re also having to schedule our classes at least half an hour apart. This will give us additional time to deep clean the studio after every class. Because class sizes will be limited, we’ll be offering more frequent classes to accommodate demand. Some of these classes will likely be shorter than our standard class, but we’ll still be packing in intensity and fun so everyone gets a great workout.
We’ve also made the check-in process for our classes touchless. Our customers can now book and check-in to class via the CycleBar app, which will reduce the number of surfaces they touch at the studio. We will also be encouraging customers to bring their own water to class to minimize the spread of germs.
Finally, we’ll be limiting or temporarily stopping certain amenities, such as towels, to minimize the spread of germs.
What do you want interested but nervous clients to know before coming back to the gym?
Numerous studies have shown that maintaining good physical health is one of the most effective ways to boost the immune system and ward off disease. Unfortunately, because all gyms in our area have been closed for an extended period, many people have fallen out of their routines or put on some extra weight. Gyms and fitness studios can help reverse this trend by boosting the body’s defenses, provided it’s done in a smart and safe manner.
If you’re nervous about returning to the gym, it’s important to do your homework to see what safety measures your gym is taking to protect its customers. In terms of providing better safety, we feel CycleBar North Hills will be one of the safest workout environments in Pittsburgh when we reopen next week. Unlike larger gyms that have multiple pieces of equipment such as free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, and other surfaces, we only have one piece of exercise equipment to sanitize. That makes it simpler for us to clean all surfaces before and after each use. When you also consider our new state-of-the-art air purification system, limited class sizes, six-feet distancing, and touchless check-in procedures, our studio will hopefully be a safe haven for our customers once again.
But the number one most important thing to remember is that the customers must do their part by staying home if they have any symptoms or think they may have been exposed to someone with the virus. We all must do our part to keep each other safe.
What have you missed the most, or are the most excited for once CycleBar can reopen?
One of the things we’re most excited about when we’re allowed to reopen next week is seeing everyone again. Although we’ll be social distancing and limiting high-fives and hugs, it will be a welcome relief to be a family again doing the things that we enjoy most.
These are very uncertain times for everyone. Many of us have sheltered at home, home-schooled children, suffered hardship, put on some weight, or perhaps gotten sick. But we have no choice but to adapt and move forward. Physical fitness can go a long way to helping you recover, and we’re hopeful our studio can play a role in helping with this process.