It’s not that Vancouver’s active drug of choice (yes, it’s yoga) has become old news—quite the contrary—but just as a bevy of new juiceries have recently poured their way into our hearts and meal plans, so too has spin’s moment, and momentum, come. Stationary cycling isn’t a new concept, but the approaches offered by these bold spin studios are, each with their own focus and flavour. Whatever you seek, be it a club-vibe, lots of encouragement, or the metrics to log into your preferred workout app, there is a sweat lodge for you.
The Beat Goes On
Music rules at Ride Cycle Club. The space is crisp, clean, graphic, and urban. The actual spin room looks as though it just finished hosting an all-night warehouse party. Owner Ashley Ander’s team of instructors carve out their classes based on personalized soundtracks, and tunes run the gamut from hip hop (Dr. Dre) to rock (Neil Young). Ander comes to spin with a musical theatre and dance background, and wanted the studio to feel like a club. “I found a studio while living in New York and I ended up going pretty much every day for a year until my visa expired and I had to come home,” she explains. “The nice thing about that studio was the lights were off and it had a performing vibe, a musical theatre vibe, and fitness.”
Just like dance class, a spin session at Ride is a full body workout. “It’s not just about your legs,” says Ander. “We incorporate small core-toning movements, and we also incorporate arms. We do push ups on the bike; we do a small weight series (1 to 3 pounds).” Riders should be prepared to spend a lot of time out of the saddle, and to sweat hard. Ander recommends that first timers give it three goes. “The first time you’re thinking ‘what the hell?!’ the second time it’s ‘okay I know what to expect’ and the third time you know the importance of hitting the beat, finding the rhythm, and finding it with your legs before you find the upper body.”
Ander’s pack of enthusiasts has been growing steadily since she opened her shop in September 2014. She’s now offering other fitness collaborations like Tight Ride, in partnership with Tight Club’s Keighty Gallagher. You can spot club members wandering the streets of Yaletown, dressed in custom Lululemon gear.
Mike Porter has built up his own community at Cadence Cycling Studio, the first of its kind in Vancouver. “I was always into fitness and I was always an athlete and at the time there were no spin studios in Vancouver. Basically all my staff has been here since the beginning,” says Porter. And while the staff are helpful and friendly, the other cyclists are too, with veterans helping rookies get adjusted on their bikes and pointing out how to clip in.
“I think community is an overused word, but it’s what we have,” acknowledges Porter. “It’s in our core values and in our philosophy. It’s got to be good for everybody.” He goes the extra mile to make sure it is good for every body, with an emphasis on safety and efficiency. “We do all the things that you would do on a bike—sprints, hills—but you don’t have to be a cyclist to do it. You will never ever be singled out for not going hard enough. There’s no ego in here, ever. It’s not about us, it’s about you. That’s key.” Porter teaches about five times a week himself, and constantly drops in on his other instructors’ classes too to make sure everyone is on task.
After classes riders migrate next door to the Community Lounge for juices and smoothies, often hanging out for another hour or more. Perhaps it’s the loft apartment-feel of the studio or the friendly faces, but staying stationary is easy to do at this Kitsilano spot.
“My initial inspiration was to create a space that was about the experience, not just the workout, where people could come and feel a part of the community,” explains Eastwood Cycle Sanctuary’s Jillian Sheridan, who co-owns the space with her husband Craig (they opened September 2014). From the moment riders step through the doors off West Hastings Street, that much is clear. A tall white and brick room is lined with amenities, lifestyle products, and even tea. “This is a luxury service and we want to feel like we’re giving Vancouverites the full experience.”
Inside the tranquil-looking spin room, where two main classes are offered—the icon (a high energy class structured around music) and the athlete (an endurance class popular with outdoor cyclists)—in addition to other specialty classes, riders will find metric measuring devices between their handlebars. “That was something we thought would be a cool element to offer to our riders,” explains Sheridan. “We’re so stats driven now. You can track your watts and your rpms. The most rewarding thing is seeing someone become a regular and they’re talking about how they broke their wattage or kilometer goal.”
Riders are encouraged to race themselves during classes, and Sheridan recommends that everyone go at their own pace. “You can truly make the workout what you want it to be. It’s your ride.”
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