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Flywheel's got a different spin on cycling, if you will. The fitness craze, which had its beginnings in New York City, has brought its indoor biking studios to 10 states so far and shows no signs of stopping. Tomorrow, the first two Flywheels will open in LA: one in Larchmont at 147 North Larchmont Boulevard, and one in WeHo at 8599 Santa Monica Boulevard.
Flywheel sets itself apart by offering trackable workouts via a little gadget they call a "tech pack" that's attached to every bike. It displays resistance levels, speed and total output, allowing participants to see how hard they're actually working. Every so often, and only for opt ins, these "scores" will appear on one of two large TVs or "Torqboards" at the front of class so bikers can see how they rank against everyone else.
Earlier this week, we took in a class and afterward, sat down to talk with CEO Jay Galluzzo about the fitness chain's plans for LA and its hardcore-sounding New York riders.
Why did you pick Larchmont for one of your first locations?
"We studied LA for a long time. There are some neighborhoods that come to mind immediately, like West Hollywood and Santa Monica, but we kept coming back to Hancock Park and Larchmont in particular. It's a really tight community and it's a destination."
Flywheel's locker room setup is different than other cycling studios.
"Yes. This is a boutique environment and one thing that does not feel boutique-y is a big open locker room where you have to get changed in front of other people and muscle around. Generally, all of our studios have private changing rooms and, where we have them, private showers as opposed to communal changing rooms and showers. The reason why they're all duel gender is that the ebb and flow of people is so dramatic. It's 45 in while 45 are leaving so we want to make sure that everything is available to everybody."
LA is such a fitness-focused city. Are there any other types of exercise you're thinking of offering in LA versus other cities?
"We'll probably treat LA the way we treat New York which is, it's our test kitchen. I don't see us rolling out another product because part of the draw of what we do is we do it very focused and very well. But in terms of evolving the method and really focusing on retail and some of the design elements, those will probably be premiered in LA or New York. Because those are the most fitness-focused communities in the country."
The competitive aspect of the class stands out. What's the thinking behind that?
"The Torqboards, the scoreboards, are really meant to enhance and not overwhelm. Generally about half or more of the class opts in to the Torqboards. You can pick a Torqname so you don't have to use your real name. What we really try to balance is providing that competition for everyone in the room who is into it without distracting the people who aren't. We find that turning on the boards three to four times during the class for about 30 to 40 seconds, running one race or two during the 45 minute class and doing the five-minute arms segment is the right mix for everyone in the room.
When you're logged [to the Flywheel site], you can go to your account which has all of your rides and data converted into miles traveled, estimated calories burned, your percentile versus people your age, etc. We find that people really like to slice and dice the data. Some people download it into Excel and play with it. We've really tried to give the New York riders as much data as possible."
How many studios do you anticipate opening in LA?
"Many. We look at LA the way we look at New York: every neighborhood could support at least one. West Hollywood and Hancock Park, as the crow flies, are not particularly far away. But they're customer base isn't really going to overlap at all. The next logical step is the west side."
· Flywheel LA [Official Site]
· Flywheel Names a Date for Larchmont and WeHo Studios [Racked]
· Flywheel Begins Free Test Classes in Anticipation of LA Openings [Racked]