Business COVID-19

Feeling The Burn: Fitness Studios Rent Out Pricey Equipment For Revenue Amid Shutdowns 

The coronavirus pandemic has effectively ended in-person group fitness classes for the time being.

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While many fitness studios have transitioned to offering classes online, some are finding ways to bring in revenue by renting out their pricey equipment.

CycleBar, a franchise of Spin Studios, began notifying customers in early April that its bikes were available to rent. One CycleBar location in Arizona, for example, was charging members $250 for the first month of bike rental, then a weekly rate of $60, according to an email.

Flywheel Sports, a popular spin studio with locations nationwide, sent an email to clients earlier this month, indicating that it was considering renting out its bikes while people are staying at home and practicing social distancing.

“We know that many of you are looking to sweat it out with us at home, but need a bike to do such,” the email read. “With that, we’re exploring bike rentals, and want to gauge interest and feasibility of launching this effort.”

The struggle is real. Flywheel told members on March 20 that after having to shut down its studios across the country, it was temporarily laying off 98 percent of its employees. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its consideration to rent out bikes.


Some gyms and fitness studios have transitioned to streaming workouts, posting classes on Instagram Live or online. ClassPass, the popular app for booking fitness classes at a variety of studios, started offering streaming classes from fitness studios as well. ClassPass is feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, too, and recently laid off or furloughed half of its employees.

Cycling studios face competition from streaming home workouts–perhaps most notably, Peloton. Peloton’s stationary bike (which sells for roughly $2,200) and monthly subscription were a popular choice for those who preferred to work out at home. With the COVID-19 pandemic, sales are up for “smart bike” makers, according to Crain’s New York.

SoulCycle, another popular cycling studio with a bit of a cult following, announced in early March that its at-home stationary bike was available for pre-order in some cities. The bike costs $2,500 before tax, and includes a five-pack of SoulCycle classes and shipping costs. For a monthly $40 membership, users also get unlimited access to SoulCycle’s on-demand classes, according to the company’s website.

Connected fitness as a category itself has drawn a growing amount of VC dollars. Peloton has raised the bulk of it, according to a December 2019 analysis by Crunchbase News, but companies like Tonal, MIRROR and Hydrow have garnered venture capital support as well.

Peloton’s stock was trading at $31.40 on Wednesday morning.

Regardless of whether at-home worker-outters stream, purchase or rent pricey equipment, the impact on the country’s fitness has been significant not just on people’s waistlines but on a massive money-making industry.

Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias


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