Everyone’s talking about an indoor cycling barn called RIDE. Meet locals Julie Dobson and Diane Decker, the two high energy women behind the exciting new venture.
The simple red barn is located next to Community Table Restaurant on Route 202 in New Preston. It’s only 1,000 square feet, but there is ample space for a group of 10 cyclists and an instructor on the first floor, with more space upstairs in the loft where TRX training goes on. Owner Julie Dobson and manager Diane Decker came up with the concept for an indoor cycling space because they wanted to get an energizing, effective workout without having to drive miles to get to it. Both women are community-minded and very active, and being close to home was important to them. So they launched RIDE, a state-of-the art cycling barn where fitness is taken seriously, but the atmosphere is informal and fun. Find out what inspired them and how they did it.
Where are you both originally from and how did you end up in the Northwest Corner?
Julie: I’m a native of Washington. I enjoyed time at Washington Montessori as well as the Washington Region 12 system. I went to college at University of Colorado @ Boulder, and loved every minute of being in the Rockies, yet the beautiful Litchfield Hills called me back to live and work in Washington for my family’s company.
Diane: I’m originally from Virginia but I consider Connecticut my forever home since I’ve been here for 22 years and my children grew up here and I never want to live anywhere else. My husband and I moved here in 1996 when he took over a manufacturing company in Waterbury.
What inspired you to open RIDE?
Our inspiration came from “lack of time” mixed with “need for fitness” mixed with our deep-seeded friendship. We wanted a place to work out that we could tailor around our own schedule.
Julie has a two-year-old son and she works full-time for her family’s company, Dobson Pools; and also renovates old houses, so saying she’s busy is an understatement. She wanted the cardio benefits of cycling without a long drive to a cycling class because her days are always too short. Cycling is the most efficient workout there is. Let’s make it happen, locally.
Diane’s youngest son left for college last fall so trying something new with Julie was not only timely, it was exciting. Both of us realized we found something in each other that could make this dream possible!
Were you both into exercising before launching the business?
Both of us have always been physically active. Julie was an all-star tennis player at Shepaug High School and Diane swam competitively in Virginia. Neither of us have had any professional experience running a gym but both of us are passionate about personal fitness and community connectedness. Having a business background, Julie worked out the logistics of running a new business and with Diane’s networking, writing, social media ability, and checklist punctuality combined into two people, we were able to get a new business off the ground. Literally, the things Julie forgets, Diane remembers and vice versa. We naturally work off each other so well. It’s been great. And fun!
Were you both cyclists before this? Indoor? Outdoor?
Strangely, indoor cycling was fairly unfamiliar to both of us. Julie attended a few classes in NYC and it made her ponder and calculate instantly. This intense rush is the key. It’s quick, efficient, and gets major cardio burn done and it’s fun. Doing Pilates at New Preston Wellness with Amparo Sedito feels like heaven as you get super strong and toned, and yet cardio is not only good for your heart, it allows you to indulge in the things you love and not feel guilty about it because the calories literally disappear when cycling. The combination has been tenfold. Clients literally crave RIDE because the results are nearly instantaneous.
Diane’s cycling experience was only outdoors originally and entailed riding around Lake Waramaug at a snail’s pace. Diane has committed to core workouts along with swimming. Bootcamp with Deb Andrew in Washington Depot has kept her strong and healthy. She has amped up her cardio since launching RIDE, which makes it possible to cycle in a group indoors and gain the benefits that one couldn’t otherwise if they were out on the road with a group.
What are the benefits of indoor cycling compared to cycling on the road?
Indoor cycling is an awesome cardio workout that burns calories (450 to 550 per class), increases stamina and metabolism, and helps a person develop a toned and strong body without putting too much stress on joints. Plus, no two rides are ever the same. A typical class involves fun music and each instructor leads riders through a routine that’s designed to simulate various outdoor landscapes such as hills, flatland and turns. A major advantage of indoor cycling is that each person controls his/her intensity level while continuing with the group’s simulated ride.
Does one have to be fit before joining a cycling class? Will a beginner be able to keep up?
An indoor cycling workout can be adapted to all fitness levels, and since each person can adjust his or her bike’s resistance level, everyone has a unique level of individual control. Our fun and energetic instructors are encouraged to be creative with their music, and they care about your goals. Whether you’re looking for a complete body workout or training for a race or looking for an emotional escape, RIDE is the place for you.
Do you have to bring special cycling shoes to use the bikes?
Stiff-sole athletic sneakers are fine and will easily fit into our bikes’ pedal cages; however, cycling shoes with SPD clips are recommended. RIDE offers a few cycling shoe sizes with clips for riders who want to try them (on a first come, first serve basis).
What is a TRX Training Station?
TRX is a suspension-type training system that uses bodyweight and resistance exercises in the form of compound movements aimed at developing strength, balance and flexibility. RIDE’s TRX stations are infinitely scalable and; therefore, a fun and effective total-body workout for anyone, no matter their fitness level, weight or height. We offer added on, at no charge, 15 minutes of TRX training post-RIDE upstairs in the loft. Diane is TRX certified and excited to launch RIDE Spring TRX Campaign (details on our website) for upper body “Summer Arms” and added lower body “Summer Bum”; a hard, Tabata style workout. RIDE is evolving into a complete body workout… humor and fun music are mandatory.
Can one combine cycling with other forms of exercise in their regimen?
Diane: I swim three mornings a week, and I cycle with TRX three days a week. Because TRX is “all core all the time,” it has helped me with all my activities and helped me run my first ½ marathon at the end of last year.
Julie: RIDE is my only go-to right now for fitness. I love to hike with my dog and I generally lope/sprint anytime (to save time and it’s in my nature). But to actually improve my health consistently, RIDE is the main stage right now that’s actually shaping my body and clearing my mind. I also am signed up for spring tennis at WMS just to be outside and it’s a time that works.
Do you have to join a group class or can you cycle solo?
RIDE offers cycling in the form of group classes but each person’s ride is totally individual because each rider is in control of gears and RPMs. In other words, you’re in a group class but you’re technically riding solo.
How many riders are there in a group class?
RIDE has 10 bikes so it’s the perfect mix of excitement and intimacy.
What’s in the future for RIDE?
Part 1: RIDE’s immediate future includes opening the barn doors during all our cycling and TRX classes. We also want to increase the number of classes offered as well as incorporate a few yoga and core training sessions in the loft. Plus, we’d like to see the barn used for private parties, with or without cycling (the bikes are easy to store which allows for a party-like room downstairs and/or upstairs).
Part 2: Our goals all along have been to encourage personal growth, energizing fitness and community connectedness in a unique and intimate barn-like setting. We believe our state-of-the-art Keiser bikes and our TRX training stations exemplify RIDE’s desire to be exceptional, and yet, our modest 1,000 square foot barn feels perfectly quintessential “New England.” And since this blend of simplicity and sophistication is exactly what makes Connecticut’s Northwest Corner so unique, we’d like to see more “red barn” RIDE studios in other small towns.