An indoor cycling fitness studio on the UW-Madison campus could receive a public nuisance violation if its “beat-based” classes don’t quiet down.
The Madison Police Department has responded to 57 calls for service at Cyc Fitness since January. The majority of those calls, 53, have been for noise problems.
Many of the complaints have come from the residents of Lucky Apartments at 777 University Ave. The apartments are located in the University Square complex, a one-block structure marked by University Avenue, East Campus Mall and West Johnson and North Lake Streets.
The Madison city attorney submitted an intent to file a public nuisance action Nov. 29. Mayor Paul Soglin and the City Council have 15 days to decide if they want to take up the issue in a resolution.
If the city does not ask for a resolution, the city attorney’s office can bring the case to Dane County Circuit Court seeking a declaration of a public nuisance. If successful, the court could identify an entity to take over the business, such as when Madison landlord Ray Peterson’s properties were declared a public nuisance.
“This is one of our strongest remedies we pursue when there’s someone in the community that is becoming a public nuisance,” City Attorney Mike May said.
Cyc Fitness is located on the second floor of the building and offers “exhilarating” stationary bicycle fitness classes with a unique “motivating” playlist created by the instructors. #partyonabike is a marketing hashtag visible in the studio's windows from University Avenue. Residential apartments are located on the upper floors of the building, which also houses a grocery store, yoga studio, coffee shop, restaurants and some university facilities.
According to the studio’s website, the 45- to 60-minute classes are held seven days a week with start times ranging from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Instructors create music playlists, control the volume and wear microphones during class, according to a studio manager.
Residents complain that the volume of the music and shouting from instructors is disruptive. One tenant, who submitted a complaint Nov. 29, said she could tell the exact song playing in the studio and the instructor’s name when the class “screams” it, according to the city’s notice of intent to file a public nuisance.
“This tenant and her roommates are concerned because they are approaching final exam time and they would like to have peaceful enjoyment of their home to prepare and be rested for finals,” the letter from the city attorney states.
The studio has received 11 citations since March at $187 each, but none have been paid and no one from the company has appeared in municipal court.
“It’s been a continuous problem,” May said.
Ald. Zach Wood, District 8, said he has heard concerns about Cyc Fitness from residents of the building, which is located in his district. He expressed concern about the police resources used to deal with this continuing problem.
"Every second an officer spends dealing with something like this … is a second they’re away from another call," Wood said.
MPD officers report Cyc Fitness staff is “flippant” in response to their concerns.
“MPD has responded to residents’ apartments and has heard the music and instructor’s voices for themselves and have determined the noise level to be unreasonable,” the letter states.
Cyc Fitness studio director Jenny DeMain said in a statement the studio is taking the complaints seriously.
"In addition to lowering and continuing to monitor the volume during the classes at our studio, we have a plan in motion to make additional, and more substantial, modifications that will ensure our volume levels no longer disrupt the surrounding community," DeMain said.
The building is owned by Gregory Rice, CEO and managing partner of the management company EMI. Steve Brown Apartments own and operate the upper residential floors of the building. Representatives from Steve Brown Apartments have tried working with Rice and Cyc Fitness without results, according to the city attorney.
Alyssa Hellendbrand-Best, director of operations for Steve Brown Apartments said in the attorney’s letter that Steve Brown Apartments has spent approximately $20,000 in tenant rent rebates and adjustments because of complaints about noise from Cyc Fitness.
In July, Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy sent a letter to Rice with no response. Zilavy called Rice two months later to schedule a meeting with MPD Capt. Carl Gloede, Lt. Jen Krueger-Favor and Hellendbrand-Best. That meeting took place in October without a representative from Cyc Fitness present.
Rice’s attorney sent a letter to the fitness studio Oct. 12 informing the company it was in violation of its lease for “excessive noise,” according to the attorney’s letter. No follow-up meetings have been held since the original Oct. 7 meeting.
“The excessive noise continues to this date and to the detriment of the residents and management of the Lucky Building and the continued drain on downtown MPD resources,” the letter states.