FOOD2FUEL: Mo' Style

Our motivators know what’s up when it comes to keeping their bodies healthy and ready for class. Meet the man who balances between the Monday & Thursday night bike, and his kitchen cooking up a storm!

Meet Steven.

Alright, let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love a man who can cook?! 

Luckily for me, my mom encouraged my kitchen creations from a young age. Now, I actually enjoy cooking and trying out all kinds of new dishes that fuel my family. I also have quite a few dietary restrictions, so knowing exactly what I am putting into my body - every ingredient - is crucial for daily success. Sometimes, I worry most people don’t realize that coming to a spin class (or lifting weights, going for a run, practicing yoga, etc.) is only going to get them so far. It’s great to get sweaty and I strive to be active almost every day. But it’s just as important, if not more so, to eat well and choose healthy foods to ensure you are getting adequate nutrients, fuel, and energy. It’s a definitely a balancing act!


What's the most important meal of the day?
All meals are important (seriously, I really like food), but my MOST important meal is breakfast. My day starts off with eggs, gluten-free toast, a banana with peanut butter, and water. Then, coffee. If I don’t get in a proper meal in the morning, I am setting my body, brain, and mood up for failure. 

How do you fuel for what you body does with dietary restrictions?

My two biggest dietary restrictions are gluten and dairy. Neither allergy is new; I've had to become more creative about what I eat and how I cook for almost ten years. It's safe to say I eat ALOT of food. My body works hard, so without all 5 meals and a ton of water, my entire day can feel really off. My go-to proteins are chicken or turkey, and I always make sure to have some rice, sweet potatoes, and quinoa readily available. Our fridge is usually stuffed full of veggies, too.

The one craving that you can't kill is ... 
Chocolate. Given my dairy allergy, I shouldn't have it, but I still do. (Almost) everything in moderation, right?

Do you have a pre- or post- spin treat? 
These protein banana muffins from Nutritionist in the Kitch are definitely my favourite. They're easy to make and freeze well. I always make sure that we have some in the freezer so we can just toss a few into a bag and go. For this specific recipe, I use Vanilla Vega protein powder. 
If muffins aren’t your thing, I highly recommend checking out Christal’s Energy Ball book. It’s an ENTIRE book of energy balls – no oven required. I’ve made a few recipes so far and all of them have been awesome.


How do you prepare the need to fuel for your day?
Our household is like every other household: we have a lot on the go at all times. Typically, my wife and I spend a few hours on Sundays grocery shopping and meal prepping. Unless I'm trying out a new dish, our grocery list looks similar week to week. I pre-make weekday lunches, snacks, and protein portions, and the same for suppers. It literally eliminates the dreaded thought after a long day of, "Great ... now what are we going to have for dinner?". Sure, sometimes we feel like last-minute tacos or going out for a bite, but having healthier options prepped suits us. Meal prepping once a week also makes the daily grind that much easier. 

Do you have any favourite food spots in the city?
LOVEPIZZA! If you haven’t been yet, go … NOW! They have one of the best gluten-free crusts in Edmonton. Come on, who doesn’t love pizza?!

Steven’s tips to fuel with success:
1.     PLAN! It really makes a huge difference. 
2.     Keep it fun! Follow the recipe ... or don't!
3.     Drink lots of water!  
MONDAY 6:30pm

REAL TALK: A Spin on Therapy


Mental health has always been a seemingly taboo topic in terms of acknowledgment, discussion, and therapy. Even now, I struggle to piece together words to help you understand my personal experiences with it. I grew up in a South-Asian family that heavily emphasized academic excellence above all else, so coming to terms with my mental health posed an even bigger obstacle for me than expected. As someone who has always prided myself on being an over-achiever and has found success as a result of hard work in my adolescence, clinical depression and high-functioning anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks in my first year of university. As a dancer of over 20 years, I see movement as my main source of stress relief but as dance shifted from a simple hobby to an important responsibility and occupation in my life, I found myself falling out of love with the art of dance and sinking deeper into depression. It began to take a toll on my academic life and my personal relationships. Having recently jumpstarted a career in empowerment and activism, I felt as though I was letting down both myself and my community. I was expected to inspire people and to act as a catalyst for positive change in society, yet I was unable motivate myself on the same level – living in fear of this kind of failure made my anxiety skyrocket to new heights. I was in need of a new outlet; something that would benefit my body and spirit physically, mentally and emotionally, something that would allow me to channel the negative energy surrounding me into something productive and positive, something that could re-ignite my passion for life. I needed to be stronger.

Harman Baweja has been both a close friend and a mentor to me in dance and life for ten years now.  He introduced me to YEG Cycle in January 2016, after revealing to our dance community that he had spent the past eight weeks training to become a motivator. I attended his “Friends and Family” trial class and was instantly hooked. After confiding in him about my ongoing struggles with depression and anxiety attacks, he encouraged me to apply for a front-desk position with YEG Cycle so I could experience a change in scenery and work-place dynamic in addition to meeting a new network of fitness-forward individuals and of course, for the spin perks. This leap into the world of fitness and positivity gave me confidence that I had only ever felt while being onstage. I found myself immersed in this community of beautiful, motivated people who would hop on the bike not only to stay healthy, but also to motivate the people around them. I found myself entering this room of 42 bikes, flashing lights and pumping music with no expectations each day and leaving feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. People close to me saw a difference in me not only physically but mentally; I was able to overcome obstacles and deal with life's curveballs in ways that didn't involve me isolating myself or cracking under the pressure.

When I clip in, the only person I have to impress is the incredibly strong and resilient woman looking back at me in the mirror. The bike has given me the opportunity to sweat out my doubt, ride through my fears, crush goals that I never thought I could set in the first place and to emerge into the world as the best version of myself. YEG Cycle is special, plain and simple.  The buzz of new riders expressing their nerves entering their first class, the triumphant cheers after completing that seemingly impossible six minute weight track, the sense of accomplishment after FINALLY receiving that 50 class water bottle, the sea of bodies pumping and dipping in unison - this experience is unmatched. YEG Cycle has taught me the importance of SHOWING up in my life and I can happily say that spin, along with other coping mechanisms, has allowed me to finally come to terms with/conquer/manage my anxiety and depression. I will forever be indebted to the motivators who have consistently challenged me to reach my potential, for the crew and Bikergang who have become family, for the key leaders and manager for supporting me through my ongoing struggles with mental health and of course, to the stationary bike for giving me a new opportunity to shine and grind each and every day. You want MY advice on how to de-stress and grab mental health stigmas by the handlebars? Let go of your inhibitions, take a deep breath, leave your troubles at the door and just RIDE. I am stronger than yesterday, I am seizing opportunity today and I am ready for tomorrow.

Love always & love all ways.
Sarah Dharshi

Big Lives Behind the Desk

He's our #1 handyman, a tall glass of positivity, and keeps us laughing with his quick wit, all while rocking out all of the necessary things that happen before, during and after your class. Say hello to one of the biggest smiles in our space!

Meet Mattie.

What wakes you up every morning?

Opportunity! I have my entire life ahead of me to accomplish whatever I set my mind to. Life is too short to spend it sleeping. People who know me will agree I take this saying a little too seriously at times... BUT, the world is full of problems in need of solutions and my goal in life is to one day say I helped solve one of them.


We're not in the business of spin classes - what are you in the business of?
Defeat. Not in the way that you would think of, but in learning from your defeats. The lessons you learn from your biggest fights are the most important, and they help you OVERCOME future obstacles. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not enough, that you can’t achieve a goal or become successful in a facet of your life, because you CAN. Why, when you feel out of breath with nothing left in the tank can you continue to push forward? It’s a question without an answer, but for me that’s how you live life. There’s always something left in your tank and there’s always a solution if you’re willing to motivate yourself to find it. “It ain’t about how hard you hit: it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s about how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done” Rocky Balboa


Tell us about the life behind the desk!
My life behind the YEG Cycle desk is just plain fun. There is no better word to describe it. I come to work with a smile on my face and leave with an even bigger one. The people I am surrounded with, both Bikergang and YEG Crew, are the sole reason for this. They are what makes YEG Cycle the amazing place it is. Everyone has an amazing story to tell and the energy they bring is off the charts. All I can say is thank-you for making this “job” one of the best experiences of my life.

We’re still in the dead of Edmonton winter – how do you keep life exciting during this time of year?
Baby it’s cold outside, but I LOVE it! Why? It’s because it’s hockey season! I have played hockey my entire life, and like spin, it’s a place to let go of everything weighing you down. Hockey will always have a place in my heart because it taught me that you don’t have to be the best to succeed. You must work hard and have the determination to overcome whatever is in your way. You’rer always stronger than you think you are. Don’t ever forget that.

What’s your go-to track to ride to?
My go- to track is ODE to Oi by TJR because it is one of the first songs I ever rode to in Nathan’s class. Riding to it still leaves a mark in my memory because it was the first time I ever felt a release on the bike. When you are able to reach the headspace where everything melts away and you are able to focus on the present, it’s amazing. You can let go of the stress weighing you down and just ride. On paper, it felt weird to “pump” and “dip” on a spin bike but man it felt good to just let go of all stress and just ride.

Let us in on a secret - what’s something the Bikergang doesn’t know about you?
It's hard to say, since I NEVER EVER stop talking. However, one thing the Bikergang probably doesn’t know is that I work two jobs (construction worker and YEG Cycle Key Leader), and I play on two hockey teams and a dodgeball team. I am also in Civil Engineering at  University at the U of A, and set to graduate this April 2017 as a Civil Engineer. Lastly, I have a Siberian Husky named Sarge and cannot wait for University to be complete so I can spend some much-needed summer camping time with him, my girlfriend Mariel, and of course my family!