Ginger Melien worked in banking in New York City before meeting her husband and relocating to Las Vegas three years ago. After having a baby, she settled into the mom role but missed not the fast-paced crazy world of finance, but the routine and structure of a regular workout regimen.
Jen Barnet moved to Las Vegas one year ago to join her fiancé. After getting a feel for the city, she was shocked by the lack of cycling studios. When she lived in Los Angeles, she was deeply immersed in the group fitness movement. “I went to every grand opening and [I fell in love with indoor cycling],” she says. It was the overall vibe that sold her … the studio was dark, there were no windows, the message was self-empowerment, and then the room would explode into 45 minutes of light, action and motion. “The energy captivated me,” she says. “I was able to be me and not worry about people looking and judging.”
When Barnet met Melien last spring, it was kismet. Ginger’s husband, Kurt, president of Live Nation Las Vegas, had been working with Jen’s fiancé, Larry Rudolph, Britney Spears’ manager and producer of her Piece of Me residency at Planet Hollywood’s Axis Theater.
“We were both trying to figure out what to do in Vegas,” Melien says.
“Our lives completely changed here,” Barnet says. “It was love at first sight for the two of us. We couldn’t have been more of a perfect match.”
They started talking and realized they had a lot in common in terms of their fitness goals: Both hated big gyms and craved a boutique fitness environment they were accustomed to in New York and L.A.
Jen and Larry had been toying around with the idea of starting a business in Vegas. “Other cycling studios tried to get me to work for them, and that was a real confidence booster,” Barnet says. “But I wanted to have my own ideas, visions and passions.” Her industry knowledge combined with Melien’s business acumen have formed XCYCLE, opening April 9 in Boca Park on the Westside.
The 3,500-square-foot space, designed by Atlas, a new locally based architecture studio helmed by Brett Robillard, is set up with 36 Schwinn Carbon Blue bikes.
XCYCLE kicks off with four instructors including Barnet and is offering 3-4 classes a day, six days a week: 6, 9:45 and 6:00 p.m. and an introductory class X101.
“All our classes are called the same thing, RhythmX,” Barnet says. “What makes us stand out are our instructors. They are hired based on their personality and bring something unique to the table.” Bios on the website tell XCYCLERS what to expect from each instructor. On average, you burn 500 to 800 calories per session. “I [got hooked on cycling] because I liked the energy the instructor was giving off in those 45 minutes. I kept going. It’s not about the name of the class, but who is teaching the class,” she says.
Barnet suggests three visits per week for newbies to build up endurance. “You go at your own pace in here,” she says. “This isn’t a competition, nor is anyone looking at you. It’s dark.” The theater will have two tiers of bikes and even a light show with an LED X and lasers.
Cycling is a great form of exercise even for those with knee problems—the focus is on the core and glutes. Barnet says that fingers should be like feathers on the handlebars. “You should not be holding on for dear life, because then you are using the wrong body part.”
Every class ends with a hug. “[Participants say] ‘you didn’t even know what I was going through, and you got me through it.’ ‘I did it and I feel so good.’ ‘I can’t wait to come back tomorrow,’” Barnet says. “Those are the type of things were looking for here at XCYCLE, not competition.”
In terms of membership, there will be packages that come in bundles of 5-10-20 classes, plus a monthly unlimited option. “We are also going to roll out an annual VIP where you pay up front for 12 months,” Melien says. Introductory monthly unlimited is $155 and if you buy a full year for $1,550 upfront, you get two months free (pricing valid through Memorial Day). Single sessions are $23 and shoe rental is $2. They will also be offering the first two rides free for anyone who wants to come check out XCYCLE.
“We didn’t want to give [just] one free class, but two,” Barnet says. “If you come the first time and you weren’t crazy about an instructor, we want to give you a chance to come back and try another.”
If you are curious about indoor cycling, she suggests coming in to learn the mechanics in the 35-minute X101, which will teach such things as clipping in and clipping out of the bike with the shoes.
A full line of apparel as well as nutrition education are all part of the XCYCLE lifestyle. “Community is a big part of XCYCLE,” Barnet says. “It’s not about coming in to get your fitness and leaving—it’s about hitting your fitness goal and making friends. We wanted to design a spot for anybody to come in and spend 45 minutes on themselves.”
“I think there is a very large [untapped] market here,” Melien says. “I see women walking around in their Soul Cycle apparel, and I can tell they’ve come out here from the West or East Coast, tried it out, and liked it. I feel like it’s the one thing that is missing from Vegas.”
Through its monthly Ride for a Reason, XCYCLE will host a class where it designates all revenue to a local charity. “If you have a monthly membership, you can put your charity in [for consideration],” Melien says. “And if it’s picked, that month’s rides will benefit the charity. We will also offer private rides so people can host events.”
It is in the spirit of bringing people together that they chose the name XCYCLE.
“X is a crossroads,” Barnet says. “X is where you start, where you want to go, and where it meets.” Adds Melien, “A place like Vegas started because of roads crossing. Community pops up around that crossroads, around the X.”
And it is this same sense of camaraderie that has joined these two entrepreneurial women in partnership and friendship.
“How does anyone do this on their own?” Melien says. “We’re lucky.”
“I thank her every morning,” Barnet says. “I couldn’t do this without you.”