Photo courtesy Stax Cycle Club

Stax Cycle Club puts a fresh twist on a traditional workout

By Christie Melhorn, March 14 2018 —

Before taking a spin class at Stax Cycle Club, the last time I clipped into a bike I ended up wiping out over a rocky slope — and my cousin was far more concerned about the state of her fancy road bike than my shredded leg. I collected some sweet scars and stories from that experience but it had been years since I went on an intense ride. However, the class I recently took at Stax reminded me how much of a killer workout cycling is. And more importantly, the club’s wholesome community makes for an all-around satisfying experience.

Though I’m a night owl by nature, I signed up for the 6 a.m. Stax 50 class instructed by Sonja Olson. My grogginess was quickly shaken off by the bright lights and sleek white interior of the CityFit, the fitness facility that Stax shares a space with. I was warmly welcomed by the front desk staff who fitted me with a nifty pair of cycling cleats. After stowing my things, I found a seat in Stax’s group class studio. A band of blue light illuminated the dim space, casting shadows along the triangle imprints that texture the studio’s back wall. Three rows of bikes face the mirrored front wall, the last of which rests on a tier, providing direct line of sight to the instructor’s podium. The space is small and intimate but reasonable distance between the bikes prevents crowding.

I picked a bike beside the centre podium, that was taken by another Stax instructor, Jessica Ecclestone. Recognizing it was my first class, Ecclestone checked that my cleats fit properly and adjusted my seat for my height. I appreciated that she ensured I was comfortable and could get the most out of my workout, especially since I’m so unfamiliar with spin. Most of the other riders in the room were Stax regulars and the air was thick with anticipation for class to start.

After a short but sweet warmup, we alternated between sprint intervals and heavy rides that kept our heart rates in flux and our minds engaged. I’ve often avoided spin because I’m not keen on seated workouts. However, I was pleased that we spent most of the class hovering over our seats. This gave a killer booty burn that made me grateful for the brief moments we were sitting.

Olson’s playlist of ‘90s rap remixes and electronic music created a cool, laid-back vibe that carried me through a challenging ride. We performed mini push-ups against the handlebars and backwards jacks that fit nicely with the deep bass and fast tempos resounding in the room. The studio’s default blue light flickered between green and purple in tandem with the song’s choruses, adding an extra sensory edge and motivation boost.

The warm dynamic between Olson and the other riders reflected Stax’s family-like atmosphere. While cheering us on, she encouraged us to up our bike’s tension as much as possible. However, she reinforced the importance of listening to your body and not forcing a painful workout. If we got lost, Olson advised us to follow Ecclestone, whose presence also helped anchor the class. Whenever I got disoriented, I tried to synchronize with her, which motivated me to push harder than I may have otherwise.

The latter half of class involved an arm workout, giving us a nice break from the intense cardio. Free weights were fitted onto our bikes ahead of time to prevent a cumbersome interruption in the middle of class. We performed variants of bicep curls, lateral extensions and tricep rows. Normally, I would gladly run another hour before lifting a weight, but that circuit felt great. The studio’s humidity made my muscles feel less tense like in a traditional gym setting. Olson’s guidance also kept me accountable to complete each set instead of get bored and stop like I do when working out solo.

At the end of the ride, Olson congratulated me on my first class, which was followed by a round of applause from the rest of the room that I really appreciated. We finished off with a stretch series against the bike that helped work out every little knot. As I clumsily unclipped from my pedals to get a sanitary wipe for my bike, another lady grabbed one for me, saving me the trip. After my eyes adjusted the brightness outside of the room, I saw Olson waiting for us with a tray of damp face towels and she high-fived us as we filtered out.

The communal vibe carried over after class. A few of us lingered and chatted on benches in the foyer. In the locker room, other women from class shared the mirrors and passed around a bag of snacks as they prepared for the day. They exchanged stories about dating prospects, travel plans and general life things. The atmosphere was sisterly and refreshing, making me feel immediately comfortable despite being in a vulnerable space. It added another layer of unexpected satisfaction to my experience.

Overall, Stax converted me into loving spin. I will definitely return for the awesome workout and community. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can drop in for $17.5. Students also receive 15 per cent off Stax’s 5 and 10 class cards, costing 63.75 and 123.25, respectively. For more information about Stax, click here.

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