Cycling classes unlike anything Fresno has seen coming to town

Fresno will soon be home to a CycleBar franchise, a high-intensity spinning class held in a ‘theater’ with nightclub lighting and music.
Fresno will soon be home to a CycleBar franchise, a high-intensity spinning class held in a ‘theater’ with nightclub lighting and music. SPECIAL TO THE BEE

Indoor cycling on steroids is coming to Fresno.

Classes with stationary bikes are nothing new at gyms, but a new breed of these classes is happening in dark “theaters” with nightclub-style lighting, lots of loud music and instructors who are more like motivational speakers.

Fresno is about to get two such businesses: CycleBar, a national franchise, and Ride54, a local company that offers cycling and strength training.

It’s the latest trend in the fitness industry, one of those things that hits San Francisco and Los Angeles with a fervor and belatedly makes its way to Fresno.

SoulCycle is a favorite of celebrities such as Lady Gaga, who hosted a fundraiser for her foundation at the Chicago location, charging thousands to ride alongside her. Fly Wheel Sports is another cycling company that has locations in the Bay Area and around the country.

In Fresno, the two cycling businesses are opening within a stone’s throw of each other. CycleBar is gearing up to open in early December at 8464 N. Friant Road in the new Park Crossing Center with Sportsman’s Warehouse. Ride54 is opening in December next to Dave & Buster’s at the southeast corner of Friant Road and Highway 41.

“It’s all about having fun and getting a workout at the same time,” says CycleBar franchise owner Peter Orlando, who is opening the Fresno CycleBar with his wife, Rachael.

At CycleBar, people can reserve their times and seats – hiding in the back if they want to, for example – via the company’s web page ahead of time. Cyclists check in at CycleBar via an iPad and cycling shoes in their size – which are cleaned regularly – that clip into pedals are waiting for them, along with water and a towel.

At the end of class, stats such as calories burned are sent to customers’ phones. The music used in the class can be downloaded via Spotify.

In between is 50 minutes of intense pedaling. Cyclists are often up off their butts, rocking from side to side or lifting a bar to give their arms a workout.

The classes are taught by “cycle stars” who must audition.

“They are performing in their class,” says Orlando.

The “theater” fits 49 people, but won’t have that locker room stench, he says. A ventilation system takes care of that.

“You can bring a hamburger in, 30 seconds later, that hamburger smell is gone,” Orlando says.

Ride54 is similar, but is locally owned.

“We really want to bring something new to the area that isn’t being done elsewhere,” says owner Layne Lev, who is opening the place with his wife, Melissa.

The amphitheater-style set-up includes 36 bikes and lights that simulate sunrise for early morning classes and are more like a nightclub later in the day.

Changing colored lights create animations on the wall.

Both places have “charity rides” where people pay to ride and the proceeds go to nonprofit organization. CycleBar uses its DJ booth in the theater during charity rides.

The big difference with Ride54 is that it holds strength-training classes.

The business uses TRX equipment – essentially resistance bands – that let 18 people in a class exercise by using their own body weight. For example, a person could do a pushup while putting their feet into straps to isolate certain muscles, Lev says.

The 54 in the name comes from the number of bikes and weight training stations added together.

Neither CycleBar nor Ride54 is cheap. Both compare their prices to “boutique fitness” places like The Bar Method that sell packages based on how often people go – from $25 for a single class to $170 for an unlimited number of classes in a month.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough