Earlier this year, the Naples Daily News reported that ElliptiGO bikes were “the latest fitness trend in Naples.” How did stand up cycling sweep across this Florida city? Mike Ruffolo, an ElliptiGO enthusiast, is responsible for the visibility of our bikes in this area. This month, we shine a spotlight on Mike, how he built a dynamic community of ElliptiGO riders in his city and how you can too.
How did you first learn about ElliptiGO bikes?
I first heard about ElliptiGO back in 2012. I lived in Boston at the time and decided to take a test ride when I was visiting New York on business. The test ride was in Central Park and I was hooked within minutes. I purchased one that day and added a second one a month or so later. The test ride experience was critical, because it convinced me that the ElliptiGO bike was not just a great fitness workout, but the best and arguably only good alternative to running. Equally important, riding an ElliptiGO bike is fun and a fitness activity that you can enjoy and stay committed to for the long run.
What is your background in sport and fitness? How has ElliptiGO changed or enhanced your ability?
I have always been involved in sports and fitness but considered running to be my main athletic activity as an adult. I was very active in the local running community and participated in 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons on a regular basis. I also ran marathons in Singapore, Chicago and New York City. The physical pounding from years of long-distance running eventually caught up with me and I was sidelined with a meniscus tear in my right knee. After my knee surgery, the orthopedic surgeon bluntly said: “Find a new way to get your runner’s high or you will be constantly dealing with future knee and hip issues, as you get older.”
With that sobering advice, I looked at many alternatives to running, but I found that indoor aerobic equipment was boring. Cycling was uncomfortable and took too much time to result in a good workout. I fell in love with ElliptiGO bikes, because they gave me a challenging and interesting workout. I could improve my fitness without further joint pounding and injury. My personal view is that the ElliptiGO is ideal for both former runners who are injured and for current runners who want to cross-train and reduce the risk of repetitive running on hard surfaces. It’s also a great option for someone who simply wants to get back into shape or maintain/improve their current level of fitness.
Tell us a little bit about the local vibe in Naples. What makes it so prime for ElliptiGO riding?
Naples is a fitness-oriented community full of people who enjoy exercising outdoors in the warm southwest Florida climate. It is popular with recently retired and semi-retired baby boomers who have both the time and the desire to improve their fitness. What I have found is that a lot of people here want to get back into daily aerobic exercise, but end up hurting themselves by choosing to go aggressively back into running and other activities that are jarring to the body. One of the main reasons that ElliptiGO has become so popular in Naples is that it offers a safe and effective way to work out in the beautiful weather and without the risk of joint pain or injury. We also have the benefit of many miles of bike trails and dedicated bike lanes throughout the area.
How did you start to build a community of riders? How often do riding groups meet to get Going together?
Like most things, it started small and then spread primarily by word-of-mouth and social media. A few of us got together to ride and then word spread quickly. So we established an email database of local ElliptiGO riders. Currently, we have around 100 riders in the immediate area including the 30 riders we have added to our community over the past year or so. Most people ride in their local neighborhoods in small groups, but we also organize group rides once or twice a month.
If someone is interested in creating a larger ElliptiGO community in their area, or simply finding a riding buddy, what would be your top tips?
- While there is no magic formula, here are four practical ideas to consider:
Get out on your ElliptiGO bike and ride regularly through various areas of your community. If you see another ElliptiGO rider, flag him/her down and exchange contact information. You will likely soon have a riding buddy and a new friend.
- Ask your local ElliptiGO dealer for names of other riders in the area. See if the bike shop will be willing to serve as a meeting spot for group rides. This is good for their business and creates loyalty to them as a retailer.
- Offer to give test rides to your friends, family members and co-workers. The fastest way to build a great community of ElliptiGO riders is to get people you know to experience the fun themselves!
- Join the ElliptiGO Facebook group and let other riders know that you are looking to meet other riders and form a group. You may be pleasantly surprised how many other riders may live in your area.