RAC puts fitness on spin cycle

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By Dave McCormick

Ryerson’s athletic centre has a new exercise that will whirl you around the world.

It’s called spinning and it’s done on a stationary bike. Brought to Canada two years ago by a competitive cyclist from California, spinning combines cycling and visualization into an exhilarating work-out.

The RAC has renovated one of its squash courts into a spinning room. Classes are limited to 11 participants.  Stationary bikes are set up in a u-shape facing the instructor.

This latest fitness fad is gaining popularity. “It’s taken off like wildfire,” says Tracie Smith-Beyak, programs coordinator at RAC.

Originally invented as an off-season training exercise for cyclists, Smith-Beyak says spinning is “for absolutely anyone.”

With music and imagination, participants embark on a 40-minute journey through terrain in exotic locales, including flat sprints, climbs and declines.

“The whole purpose of the visualization is not only to train somebody for what they can expect when they’re training outside on their bike, but it’s also relaxing, almost a yoga coming into play with cycling. It’s like a mesh between the two,” says Smith-Beyak.

While Ryerson is one of the first universities to offer spinning classes, it has been available because it’s easy to do. “You don’t need a lot of coordination. It’s for all ages and fitness levels.”

Besides the physical benefits, spinning can also be a great way to reduce stress because of the imagery used.

“At our club, we’re dealing with a lot of Type A (high-strung) individuals, they’re stressed out…Spinning allows them to close their eyes and feel like they’re in another place,” says David.

Because of its popularity, spinning has been compared to past fitness fads that have since died out. But Smith-Beyak says spinning is no flash in the pan.

“Cycling has been around forever. This is just an organized class for cycling training…spinning is not going anywhere.”

David agrees: “It’s definitely here to stay. People thought step and aerobics were a fad and it stayed. I do believe what step was to the ‘80s, spinning will be to the ‘90s.

Spinning classes cost $40 at RAC, which gets you two 40-minute classes every week for the semester. Classes have already begun but it’s not too late to sign-up.

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