By Kerry Guglielmin
It’s a wintry Friday evening, minus twenty-five degrees outside—a perfect night to curl up with a book in front of the fire. Instead, I pull on my bike shorts, scrape the ice off the car and drive over to the community centre for a spin/yoga class. I know it will be worth it.
When I arrive the room is dimly lit with candles and small lamps. Twelve spinning bicycles are arranged in a circle facing our instructor. I choose a bike and make some adjustments to the seat so that the bike fits me. I make sure my water bottle is close at hand and then clip my bike shoes into the pedals.
The class begins with a warm-up, the music setting the pace as we start to spin. After five minutes the instructor suggests we increase the tension on the flywheel a little, and imagine we’re cycling down a flat stretch of road. She reminds us to relax our shoulders and to listen to our bodies. No sense competing with anyone else, you can adjust that flywheel to be as tight or loose as you want. Get what you need from the class, she tells us.
As the tempo of the music increases we pedal more and more quickly. Its getting hot in here! Now our muscles are warmed up and its time for a big hill. The music slows down, we increase the tension on the flywheels and stand up on the pedals. Ten minutes later, hearts pounding, we’re over the crest of that hill. The music changes again and we collapse back onto the seats, releasing some of the tension on the flywheels and grabbing for the water bottles. Time for a quick mop of the brow while we continue to spin along on the flat road and catch our breath. Then faster and faster again until the next hill climb. And so it goes for 45 minutes until the stress of the work week has been pedaled away. Every class is different with new music, new roads and hills. We’ve spun to rock, folk, classical, Celtic, drumming and salsa music.
After the spin session we roll the bikes to the sides of the room and spread out the yoga mats. Time to stretch our muscles before they tighten up from the strenuous workout. The deep breathing and relaxation of the yoga is a perfect complement to the high intensity cardiovascular workout of the spinning session. The instructor leads us through 45 minutes of hatha yoga with an emphasis on loosening up the legs, neck and back. Tonight we do variations on the sun salutation and downward facing dog poses but every class is different. We end the session with my favorite exercise – savasana or “corpse pose”, which involves lying flat on your back on the mat and heading towards sleep. Just as I begin to drift away the instructor’s soothing voice pulls me back. I feel completely relaxed now—what a great way to end the week!
I won’t even notice how cold it is on the drive back home.
Kerry Guglielmin is a researcher and freelance travel writer and lives in the Ottawa area. In her spare time Kerry enjoys hiking, cycling, running, cross-country skiing and skating.
Photo by Nel Ahmed