Joseph Cece, the former president and CEO of both Global Knowledge and BTI, has shifted into franchise ownership.
An avid cyclist for more than three decades, Cece is the owner of the CycleBar indoor cycling franchise that opened Thursday, following last week’s “soft opening,” in Cary’s Alston Town Center at 5022 Arco St. He’s also gearing up to open a second franchise this summer in Raleigh, where he has already signed a lease but isn’t yet ready to disclose the precise location.
Cece said he’s entered “career 3.0.” Cece, 64, started out in magazines and spent six years as president and publisher of TV Guide “when it was still the largest magazine in the world.”
He said of the switch from corporate executive to franchise owner: “I wanted to (do) something I was more passionate about and had more direct control over my future.”
Even more control than when he was a CEO at Cary-based Global Knowledge, a technology training company, or Raleigh telecom firm BTI?
With boards of directors or shareholders to answer to, Cece said, crucial issues such as a change in strategy or direction “are not always under a CEO’s control.”
Cece is convinced his CycleBar franchise fits nicely into a consumer trend.
“There is a whole movement, I think, of people moving towards boutique fitness, concierge-based fitness, as opposed to traditional big-box gyms,” he said.
Indeed, the CycleBar in Cary isn’t the first local entry in the indoor cycling space. It joins FlyWheel Sports in Raleigh’s Cameron Village and a CycleBar in Brier Creek that is under different ownership. CycleBar has 68 franchises nationwide.
Still, Cece anticipates that a sizable portion of his customers will be cycling novices seeking an alternative way of staying fit.
“It’s low impact but high cardio,” he said.
Indoor cycling, however, is a very different experience from the outdoor cycling Cece has engaged in since his early 30s.
“We have two large-screen monitors, a state-of-the-art sound system and a fabulous instructor that we call a cycle star leading these folks through an invigorating and energizing 50-minute workout,” he said. “We like to think of it as a party on a bike.”
To introduce newcomers to indoor cycling, each CycleBar that opens offers 2,500 free rides in their initial days. Registration for the free rides, which are available through Jan. 29, is required at alston.cyclebar.com/schedule.
“We have to get people to see it to appreciate it,” Cece said.
Otherwise, a single 50-minute ride costs $21; packages of rides can lower the cost to between $12 and $18 per ride.