The lights in the room go dim and the spotlight on the bike at the front seems brighter.
Beyonce’s voice swims through the air, your legs start pedaling to the beat of “Single Ladies” – and before you know it, you’re spinning and sweating your way through a class at the island’s first indoor cycling center – Rockit Ride.
The environment was created to be both fun and encouraging, according to owner Kanako Watabiki who got her first taste of the dark, rhythmic experience of indoor cycling in Japan.
“We had a chance to go to one of the classes and it was amazing. I’m not really the fitness type so it was just easy to cycle, listening to the music in the dark and not worrying about anyone looking at you and just concentrating on yourself,” Watabiki said.
She said Rockit Ride, backed by their motto to "change the way you move", aims to cater to those like herself but also those who are just starting out.
“I’m not a fitness type, and that’s the people I want to reach out to,” she said. “If you’re the fitness type, you can enjoy. But I also want to reach out to the people who are just a little uncomfortable going to the gym. You can work out here you don’t have to push your body too much. If you do great, but just listen to your body and have fun. That’s what I want.”
At the start
Watabiki said she and her husband had been dreaming of starting their own business for a while.
“We just didn’t know what,” she said. And as they were contemplating different ideas, things happened and they had to rethink their priorities.
“My father became ill, I just had my first child, and we just needed to take a step back from our jobs and really think about family,” she said.
The trip to Japan where she got her first taste of indoor cycling came right after she gave birth to her daughter. She loved the idea and thought “Guam doesn’t have this and it would be really special to bring this to our community.”
They worked on their plans and in July, signed a lease at the Camacho Landmark building in Tamuning and started doing construction.
Then COVID-19 hit.
Similar to other businesses, like Kut, a salon that just recently opened in Hagåtña, their opening was pushed back “a lot.”
“We were supposed to open in January, then March, then April,” she said. The delay in March was caused by the pause in factories in China due to the novel coronavirus.
“We ordered all of our lockers, towels and what not – even the bikes came from off island – and the shipping got delayed.”
Just as they received their shipments and got the cycling class prepped, the island shut down. In March, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus that reached Guam’s shores, shut down most of the government and local businesses.
“That was the longest we had to wait,” she said.
Just bring yourself
A little over three weeks ago now, gyms and fitness centers were allowed to open and Rockit Ride held free community rides.
The feedback has been positive and Watabiki couldn’t be more pleased.
“We put our customers first and so that’s what I want everyone to experience here,” she said. “Our community is very important, I want them to feel welcome when they come here, we provide towels, we provide rental shoes … everything. You just have to bring your body and your clothes and … just start cycling.”