The Australian fitness industry generates around AU$3 billion dollars a year, presenting a huge business opportunity for smart operators.

However, there is also huge competition, with gyms and fitness centres on every corner. So what do successful operators do that sees them stand out from the crowd?

To find out, Pine Property spoke with Alex Jaques, founder and director of Manly’s overnight sensation, ANTHEMCYCLE    

Originally from Washington DC, Alex has spent over a decade working in American sports and event production, including with the NHL, MLB and the Olympics.

Upon moving to Australia, Alex could not find an Australian equivalent to a “Rhythm Ride” class in the US, which combines music, energy and community in a 45-minute full-body workout on a stationary bike.

Despite opening only days after the November 2021 COVID lockdown, ANTHEMCYCLE has boomed. Here are nine key factors that Alex says have been integral to her success.

1. Passion and Perspective: A unique or powerful concept like ANTHEMCYCLE might help get peoples’ attention, however, a concept is nothing without the passion to deliver customers a great experience, Alex says.

“Whether it is a pilates studio or a cafe, If you have a product or service that people want, have an interesting perspective, and are truly passionate about it, people will come.”

This requirement for passion extends to all staff and instructors in the business.

“All of our instructors are trained in Rhythm Ride, but the most important thing they have is the energy they present to the customer,” she said, adding that customers will happily forgive mistakes, but will not forgive a lack of warmth, energy and passion.

2. Culture and Community: Creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all clients – regardless of experience level – is essential to building a loyal fitness following, Alex says.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s your first ride or your thousandth ride, we leave our egos at the door. As long as you do it with a smile on your face then we have done our job.”

For ANTHEMCYCLE, music plays such a big part in this. “Music is very powerful. It can change your mood. It can motivate you. People come in and connect with their type of music, their instructor, and their people, and our classes feel more like they are at a party.

3. Location: Alex credits a lot of ANTHEMCYCLE’s success to her high-visibility retail-front location in the heart of Manly that sees high foot traffic.

“I think a fitness studio should be visible and inviting with pumping music, while retaining the privacy of customers and delivering an element of mystery,” she says.

“You can see out into our studio space but once the door is shut, you have no idea what’s happening in that room, and it makes people curious to come check it out and try a class.”

Alex Jaques, founder and director of Manly’s overnight sensation, ANTHEMCYCLE

4. Expanding and Franchising: While Alex does plan to open more ANTHEMCYCLE studios, she cautions against expanding too quickly if your brand is still developing.

“When I do expand it will be in-house first while we solidify the brand, messaging and process of engaging with customers. Once we have well-defined systems from our first few studios, we may then look at franchising opportunities.”

5. Technology & Fitness: Alex says that people love a high-quality digital experience, and that has been core to ANTHEMCYCLE’s offering, with premium sound, studio lighting, and rhythm ride specific stationary bikes.

She also encourages the use of booking technology and automation and uses the MindBody booking application and suite of automation tools.

6. Marketing – Word of Mouth Reigns Supreme: While ANTHEMCYCLE has always invested in targeted advertising on Facebook, Instagram and more recently Google Ads, Alex says the best marketing is still word of mouth from people who love your product, passion and culture.

She adds that a formal referral program will help drive word of mouth, as will a high-visibility street-front location.

7. Don’t Procrastinate: Having started ANTHEMCYCLE in the middle of COVID, Alex says there is never be a perfect time for you to start a passion project    

“If you are truly passionate and you believe there is a market for your product or service, just go for it. Create a plan, take action and dive in”!