World Health cycling program one option to keep lean during winter months

You peddle with vigorous speed, putting the exercise bike you’re riding to the test.

 Music blasts the amps, mixing with the heat and raw energy of the dozens of people riding alongside you. The tempo starts to pick up and you feel the music building, reverberating throughout your body. Beads of sweat roll down your face, showcasing the effort and dedication you’ve put in.

You grin. The music peaks, and you spin the pedals faster than you knew you could.

This is adrenaline. This is pure exhilaration. This is REVS – a cycling-based approach to better fitness.

Utilizing exercise bikes with controllable degrees of resistances, speeds, and positions, REVS incorporates music into the mix, with varying beats of songs altering the tempo of the workout.

At 60 minutes in length, this cardiovascular workout helps burn both fat and calories, while maintaining the structure of a group activity.

Keeping busy during winter

Mark and Mary Skidmore, attendees of the program, would agree.

“It’s something to do in the winter,” Mark said. “We’re doing The Ride to Conquer Cancer, so it’s something to do in order to get in shape for the spring and summer.”

“Some of us haven’t been on a bike in many years and have signed up for The Ride, and that’s why we’re getting on the bikes at REVS,” Mary said, “so we can get our muscles ready for the 200-kilometre bike ride in June.”

Mona Forbes, also a REVS attendee and an upcoming participant in the same ride, said she felt the program’s group dynamic was responsible for a lot of her motivation.

“I like that you go a lot harder than if you were just on the street by yourself,” Forbes said. “It pushes me to go further.”

In particular, Mary said that the quality of the instructors stood out as being one of the program’s greatest strengths.

One such instructor is Kristi Demers. Having 22 years of experience as a trainer — with four and a half of those being in Calgary — Demers is now a group exercise manager at World Health.Group exercise manager Kristi Demers in the middle of her REVS class, pushing through an intense workout.

Photo taken by: David Goldenstein

Demers said that being there for the students and their workout is one of more gratifying experiences of running REVS.

“Teaching people to have fun — that’s what I love about it,” Demers said.

“Ultimately that’s the number one thing — just showing people that they can enjoy it, have fun, and get benefits from it. They can feel good.”

Demers said that while the program offers an intense cardiovascular workout, it’s generally easy on the body.

“You’re able to do cardio that’s very high in energy without any impact on your joints,” Demers said. “That’s huge because it’s not taxing on your knees or your hips.”

It runs in the family

For Demers, training runs in the family.

Jodi Borrelli – Demers’ sister and also a group fitness instructor for World Health – recalled helping teach classes together with her sister at a young age.

Growing up, both Demers and Borrelli tagged along with their mom to jazzercise classes. The instructor would pull them both up on stage to aid in teaching the class.

Both sisters now teach REVS and other fitness programs – Zumba being one example.

Through personalized instructing styles, both Demers and Borrelli say they like to let the crowd choose what types of music to play throughout the workout sessions.

Borrelli said that being flexible with the music played during workouts is most likely what differentiates REVS from exercise bike programs of a similar nature.

“We’re freestylers,” Borrelli said. “You’ll go from a Monday morning crowd to a Monday night crowd, and you can have two completely different playlists.

“Both my sister and I feel that you can get lost in music, so instead of having a five minute hill drill, you have a five minute song,” she said. “It takes away the hum drum of, ‘Oh I’m exercising.’”

Worth the wait

“People line up to get in, and unfortunately some people get turned away,” Borrelli said.

Demers said she feels the queue is worth it.

“Your typical REVS class isn’t just about the exercise component,” Demers said.

“It’s about the spiritual, the physical and the emotional. It’s generally about feeling good. Overall, well-being is improved by coming to this class,” Demers said.

For attendants like Forbes and the Skidmores, the queue seems to be worth the wait as well.

dgoldenstein@cjournal.ca