How A Small Studio in Colorado Reopened During the Global Pandemic

PeloDog Indoor Cycling studio in Avon, Colorado, like most studios around the world, shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. PeloDog is where I have been teaching (one of two places I taught) since it first opened in October 2019. Jennifer Kaplan, the owner of PeloDog, watched closely what was happening around the world, did her research, and made the responsible choice to close the studio early on, before businesses were forced to close in this state.

Since then, she has been vigilantly researching how to open back up in the safest manner. I met Jennifer at her small studio and interviewed her about the steps she has taken to open up. It is a studio that offered private Pilates sessions along with indoor cycling, and had the capacity for 18 bikes (plus the instructor bike).

I know it’s a small studio compared to some of the studios and clubs elsewhere, so while some of her steps may not be possible in a much larger facility, there are still many things she has done that will help studios and clubs that are preparing to reopen. My hope is that you get some ideas from her hyper-vigilance and efforts to keep her members and instructors safe.

Jen is the sole owner of PeloDog. While she has the health and safety of her customers to think about, she also has to think about her own health and safety and that of her family.

Taking the additional necessary steps like thoroughly cleaning all the bikes herself (multiple times a day) is very time consuming, so Jen has also reduced her personal involvement in other areas of the studio. Below are some of the steps she has taken to assure that she and her riders are safe and that she personally doesn’t have to spend every waking hour at the studio.

  1. First and foremost, educate members/customers about the protocols required and update them on the cleanliness steps being taken so they feel safe coming to the studio. Jen emailed these protocols as well as posted them clearly in the studio. When needed, she rewrote them as more information came out and made sure they were clear and succinct.
  2. Require customers to come prepared to ride, to bring their own towels, and to minimize the total amount of stuff they bring to the studio (easier in summer when they don’t have big coats to hang up). To assist in this, Jen removed the cubbies where customers placed their bags during class. Now, she asks them to keep their bags near their bikes so no one else handles them. (This is not unsafe since the bikes are much farther apart at the moment and no one has to step over the bags.)
  3. Reduce opportunities for congregation before and after class. Jen asks customers to not arrive too early and to leave quickly after class. She took away benches and chairs (except for one small bench for putting on or taking off cycling shoes).
  4. Reduce opportunities for people to touch surfaces. Removing the cubbies mentioned above means she has fewer surfaces to clean constantly.
  5. To further avoid bringing the outside in (and to limit it to one area), she asks riders to remove their street shoes at the front of the studio. She used to spend a lot of extra time cleaning the floors, but now she does a thorough disinfectant cleaning once a day. 
  6. Jen has a touchless thermometer to take the temperature of each customer as they come into the studio.
  7. An automatic (touchless) hand sanitizer dispenser is at the front desk; another is available at the entrance to the cycling studio.
  8. Customers are asked to wear masks at all times except when they are on their bikes. This way, when they are arriving and leaving and they are unable to be six feet apart, there is less risk.
  9. Bikes are more than six feet apart, and the instructor bike does not have a rider directly in front of it.
  10. She discontinued asking riders to clean their own bikes. They were using three or four wipes, which is expensive and wasteful. Since she had to clean the bikes afterward regardless to ensure every surface is disinfected, she took away the wipe dispenser and asks riders to simply leave that for her to do.
  11. She suspended towel service and requires riders to bring their own towels. This is an important step in reducing the risk to Jen and her family or, for larger studios or clubs, to their own employees.
  12. After classes that involve weights (she has a few classes that are 30 minutes on the bike followed by an off-the-bike weight segment), she immediately puts all the weights or other equipment to soak in a disinfectant solution.
  13. PeloDog has a great relationship with local, loyal customers, but this is a tourist town. Normally, attracting tourists who pay a drop-in fee would be a big goal, but the time involved in setting up these riders who may not come back, and the increased risk they carry by coming from potentially highly infected areas, is not worth the risk. Currently, she is not accepting drop-in riders.
  14. Jen installed a specialized medical grade, UV, germicidal air filter in her HVAC system. It was not inexpensive, but it’s worth it. The air quality is the same as a medical facility. She does not have fans and it is plenty cool in the room. (Note: If your facility does not have this possibility in the HVAC system, you may want to limit fans. I know that’s a challenge, especially in hotter and more humid regions…but fans may contribute to the spread of droplets.)
  15. PeloDog has two classes that are offered outdoors per week. (See second video below.) Bikes are rolled out to the loading dock behind the commercial building. Fortunately, the view of the mountains and trees and the wonderful weather here in the Rocky Mountains makes this a terrific option. Unfortunately, the building owner is limiting the number of classes that can be held outdoors, and only Jen is permitted to teach them. (Which is a bummer to me, because I would LOVE to teach an outdoor class!) Rain is a frequent worry in the afternoons in the mountains, so the outdoor classes can only be offered in the mornings. Of course, if rain is a risk in the morning, the class would be held indoors.


Here is my interview with Jennifer Kaplan at the PeloDog Indoor Cycling Studio.


I took an outdoor class with Jen. You can see, she has a very special way of motivating riders and expressing gratitude! (Note: The class was sold out, but unfortunately one person did not show up.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *