It’s ride time, and on entering the Bodhi & Ride reception, it’s very evident that this is no ordinary studio.
Explaining I had in fact forgot my kit, I caught up with cycle obsessed studio owner Michaela Fellner to find out why this Melbourne based boutique was proving so popular with the locals and what inspired her to create such a totally unique cycle experience.
Craig Mac: How would you best describe Bodhi & Ride?
Michaela Fellner: Bodhi & Ride is a revolution in the Australian boutique fitness industry, combining immersion in a nightclub environment with fitness for a whole body and mind experience. We don’t Spin, we RIDE. Bodhi & Ride has taken traditional spin classes to a totally new level, by turning the standard ‘spin class’ into a full body workout on a bike, which we call RIDE.
CM: What influenced or inspired you to create your cycle studio?
MF: I have to say my own passion for creating an innovative, next level fitness experience.
Having worked as an instructor in ‘big box gyms’ for many years, fuelled the desire to create an experience that was above and beyond what was on offer.
I get bored so early, and I have high expectations, so whilst teaching RPM classes I’d always think “This is so dull. How can you take that next-level”, and so it came together for me and I finally launched my own studio brand 2½ years ago.
CM: Take me through the journey for a rider?
MF: A typical RIDE class is set in our custom built RIDE CHAMBER which resembles a nightclub.
In this space we have 28 bikes nestled in close to one another, much like a crowded dance floor.
Our 45 minutes classes are choreographed to DJ-sampled music providing an intense and exhilarating cardio and weight training for upper and lower body.
Fifty different light settings (including strobes) and DJ-mixed soundtracks create an energetic (and sweaty) fitness experience where riders can find a release in near darkness.
Outside the RIDE chamber, there’s a warm and welcoming reception area, bathrooms with showers and all the usual mod-cons. There are even beanbags to chill out after class in our CBD studio and we have a range of Bodhi & Ride clothing our riders can purchase, which add to the sense of community.
CM: Why do you think your classes have become so popular?
MF: There’s the Magic that happens when the doors close, dim the lights, and turn up the music. When we all stop and close our eyes, and take a deep breath. When we set an intention for the RIDE ahead.
There’s a palpable energy in the room that pushes you one step further.
It’s the soul, body, mind combination that we bring to you. You’ll feel supported, not just by our team, but also by our community.
We have one track we call the ‘Bodhi track’ which is where we turn off all the lights, keep the music pumping, and the instructor is quiet. It’s in that Bodhi track we ask our RIDERS to take part
in a moving meditation. It’s their time to focus and ‘get into the zone’, come back to their intention, or set one for the day ahead.
CM: Classes in generally are more popular with women that men. Do you follow that pattern? What are your demographics?
MF: Mostly, you’ll find 20-45 year olds, who are serious about getting fit and shredding weight. Saying that, with the upcoming launch of BODHI ATHLETE, we plan to attract a more male demographic.
We have lots of men come to our studio and try out the ‘RIDE’ classes, but they can struggle a little with the choreography and coordination required, so ATHLETE will tick a lot of boxes for the guys, while still offering the awesome and immersive Bodhi experience we’ve become so well known for.
CM: Are you seeing a trend of class participants who also have a regular gym membership?
MF: We have a lot of members who also work out at other studios, yes. Most of them add yoga to their weekly mix to get a good stretch and also to strengthen.
We have lots of members who combo our cardio workouts with strength work such as Lagree Fitness and Reformer Pilates.
CM: Sounds like finding the right team members is crucial. What’s on the checklist during your recruitment process?
MF: Passion! For music, for movement, for creating an experience. Teaching a class at our studios requires a lot of prep and dedication, so you really need to be a next-gen instructor to be successful.
CM: You have various class packs and memberships – what’s your most popular?
MF: It’s a mix between both and a good 50:50 split. I think that class-packs will become more popular over time as customers will become more picky about classes and as their lives continue
to get busier and busier.
I feel the movement towards “I pay for a class that’s high quality, and I’m happy to pay a higher cost” instead of a membership at a gyms.
CM: Tell me more about your Corporate Wellness Programs?
MF: Opening our studio in Melbourne CBD has created an influx of corporate customers. We’ve had a lot of fun organising ‘team sweats’, offering private team rides for work teams.
We’ve been approached by quite a few businesses near our studio who are looking for ways to get their employees into fun and engaging team classes to avoid the ‘4pm work slump’ and instead get their heart rate pumping and just have a good time.
We did a ride with a local consulting firm recently where they created the playlist for their private class.
It was hilarious – there was some pretty seedy RnB mixed with some tunes by Zaeden, who is an Indian DJ. It went off and they had a good time.
CM: You currently have two studios – your flagship studio in Port Melbourne and Melbourne CBD – are you looking to franchise?
MF: We’re absolutely looking at the best ways to scale the business, whether it’s franchising, licensing or JVs. It’s exciting time, so watch this space.
CM: What’s in store for the rest of 2018?
MF: Definitely the upcoming launch of our new class format called ATHLETE.
We have designed BODHI ATHLETE to improve your athletic performance in a competitive yet supportive setting. Unlike Bodhi RIDE, there are no weights in the class, and there is only minimal
ATHLETE is also powered by the latest technology where our scoring system takes each rider on a journey and connects them with a community that love to ride harder and live fitter.
We aim to develop the brand into the most exciting Rhythm and Athlete ‘spin’ brand across the country, and we’ll continue to collaborate with likeminded businesses and brands and innovate to bring a great fitness experience to Melbourne’s sweat scene, and beyond Interested in knowing more?
What’s New in Fitness is on the lookout for more gyms and studios to profile in upcoming editions of the magazine and on the website. Why not drop us a email with you details – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article written by Craig Mac for the Winter 2018 WNiF Magazine.