Instructor and Studio Spotlight: Meet Tammar Berger of Off Road Indoor Cycling

While often noted as being the most powerful city in the world, not so long ago, Washington, DC, was nothing more than a commuter city, known to be one of the most dangerous places in the US. Huddled tourists, politicians, and families alike stuck to the familiar uptown neighborhoods like Georgetown, Dupont Circle, or Adams Morgan. Never did they venture off road toward “Hooker Alley” or “Black Broadway,” as it was commonly known. And why would they?

tammar bergerBut, in every crowd, there are always a few willing to take a road less traveled. And here it was that Tammar Berger and her business partner Avital (Tali) Wenger chose to build DC’s first indoor cycling studio, aptly named Off Road Indoor Cycling.

As avid indoor cyclists, “One night, we were discussing our experiences at studios in other cities and couldn’t figure out why there was nothing like this in DC,” Tammar shared as she discussed how their dream unfolded. Two meals and several bottles of wine later, Off Road began to construct along the very streets where Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye, and many other prominent musicians were born. The rhythm to ride was already embedded deep in the soul of this community.

Today, this “Best of DC” cycling studio finds itself surrounded by a relatively beefy market of boutique cycling studios and big-box clubs offering large-scale cycling programs. “When we built Off Road, we were the first cycling studio anywhere, and this area was in transition, so we naturally drew young professionals with extremely busy schedules.” Depending upon the season, Off Road estimates they now see 350 to 550 riders each week—approximately 60%–70% of whom walk or bike to the studio.

So, what keeps Off Road in front of the wave of cycling competitors? Coaching, community, and attention to their customers.

“The toughest part of running any studio,” Tammar said, “is finding qualified and technically sound instructors who bring energy and connection to our riders. Discovering talent with both elements is not easy!” The power of a coach inspires people and motivates them to reach their full potential. “While technology and equipment advancements are great, without good instructors…they simply mean nothing.”

Tammar had kept an eye on DC’s growth prior to choosing their current location. So, she picked an area that was ripe for development (which also had no other gyms or studios in the proximity!). “I love, love, love, love our neighborhood and we’ve spent significant time and energy becoming a vital part of our community.”

Tammar Berger ridersLocal business partnerships, charity events, and community gatherings are all a part of Off Road’s DNA. One of the neighboring partners, the 930 Club (known as one of the best concert venues in the US), curates a monthly playlist for Off Road’s “930 Ride,” featuring upcoming artists at their venue. The owners agree, the free concert tickets are a nice incentive as well!

Off Road doesn’t compromise technique and form for the sake of gaining those members drawn to the “thirty-five-dollar studio experiences.” They simply don’t have to. Tammar readily acknowledges that they are the only DC cycling studio with a committed focus to keep riding real. “What sets us apart is NOT being a SoulCycle. Not everyone wants that workout, so we play it up in class as well as in our online presence.”

As charter members of the Indoor Cycling Association, (that’s right, since day one!), Tammar and Tali have stayed true to the fundamentals of real riding and have incorporated what they’ve learned from ICA to help develop a strong, stable and ever-popular program. For several years, Off Road has used ICA’s Tour de France package to consistently pack their cycling studio during those wavering summertime class periods, which we all know can prove tricky to fill!

Multiple racing teams and tri clubs facilitate their off-season training at Off Road, which is also an officially licensed Sufferfest® Embassy. Some powerful indoor riding definitely goes down within these studio walls! “But, we also don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Tammar joked. “We still offer a Friday night karaoke ride as well!”

Recognizing the busy lifestyles of their clientele and desiring to become a full-service fitness facility, Off Road expanded to include TRX® strength training—the perfect complement to indoor cycling. This purposeful move provides a community-geared, pay-as-you-go, gym-experience model for their customers. Additionally, participants can build their own workouts through Off Road’s brand-new point system program, which allows riders the flexibility of choosing workouts ranging from 30 minutes to 2+ hours—whatever works best with their schedules.

This powerful duo has recognized, realized, and reworked their partnership roles over the years. While some specific tasks are assigned to one or the other, the reality is “We work on most issues together.” And, they both agree, “We spend as much face-to-face time with our clients as possible.”

As Tony DeLiso so greatly penned, “Keep your best wishes close to your heart and watch what happens.” What started as a simple discussion between two college alums over a bottle of wine has left an indelible imprint in the individual and collective make-up of this now burgeoning, hip, cool DC district known as the “U Street Corridor.”

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