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REAL TALK: A Spin on Therapy

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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

 


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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.

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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

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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!

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FOOD2FUEL: YEG Community

Happy love month, Bikergang!

Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine by thy food.” I'd incorporate spin into this quote; you, your team and 50 minutes on that bike acts as a necessary pick-me-up for when we’re dwindling down from the demands of our big and busy lives. But the best medicine? A combination of the two: spin and nutrition. Without food to keep our bodies and brains fueled, we’re missing out on the potential power that we could bring to those hovers and climbs. Every time I leave the studio, my body needs to refuel with some feel-good food. I’m notorious for forgetting to bring something to eat post-class, so if I’m not jetting home right away, I’m craving one of my favourite YEG food spots – kb&co!

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Kristina, kb&co's owner, found inspiration for her space after reflecting on her own big and busy life of working, being a mom, and all other fun activities in between:
"On the days that work and life didn’t have me running around, I’d spend my time in the kitchen creating meals that were amazingly tasty and good for you as well. I would tell my husband over and over that I must get this into the mouths of others. I wanted others that are at the mercy of life’s demands to have food like this accessible on the fly. If others struggled with digestion issues, I swore this was the answer. If you wanted sustainable energy, this would give you that. I wanted to change the way we think about food as it doesn’t have to be boring. I wanted to inspire people to eat well themselves, and most importantly, make them feel well! And so, that’s where it all began. I believe my passion had met my purpose with kb&co."

From smoothies to salads to the healthiest version of a sloppy joe, my tastebuds light up every time I eat at the downtown community's plant based café. I'm an avocado aficionado, a serious lover of the creamy green filled with Vitamin B to increase mood and energy levels and Potassium to lower blood pressure and get rid of excess sodium. Naturally, my go-to pick is the Balsamic Berry Avocado Toast. My sweet tooth can't resist the display of superfood treats to indulge in, so it's guaranteed that I'm leaving with a Raw Cinnamon Roll or Trail Mix Cookie. It's absolutely satisfying to eat and know that the ingredients will keep me going, not take me down on a sugar-crash before spin!

Menu aside, what I really value about kb&co is that I can trust that what is going into my body is wholesome and nourishing, and that it's created by people who are excited to share their passion for health with others. I'm driven by people who create community with health in mind; at YEG Cycle, it's through spin, and with kb&co, it's through nutrition. Kristina connected three of our studio's pillars with her space at kb&co:

BETTERMENT. 
"Anytime I hear a guest at kb&co say, 'I feel so good after eating your food', I get goosebumps. I’m changing the way people feel. That’s incredible. For the betterment of the people. I love that."
PASSION. 
"Man do we ever have it. You can feel it when you visit the store. We love what we do and we believe in what we do."
POSITIVITY. 
"This is a must! Being positive never ever hurts. We strongly believe that being positive brings on positive results. We’re all in this together."

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A happy body is a healthy body, and a healthy body is a balanced body. You lead big lives, Bikergang, and YEG Cycle is always here for your dose of spin medicine, but remember the second component of the happy body equation: nutritional health. Regardless of where you fuel up, I'll meet you before (or afterwards) on the bike!

Big love.
Stephanie








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Cold Weather & YOU!

The cold weather is still kicking around, and we're taking any steps we can to fight away sickness that takes us away from being at our best.
Our resident crew and registered nurse Grace is here to educate us on how to stay healthy off the bike, so that we can stay on the bike.

How does the cold weather affect your health?

Hello beautiful souls!  My name is Grace. I work as part of the crew at YEG Cycle, and also as a Registered Nurse who is passionate about helping change and bring about life. I am hear to share topics related to health and wellness to ensure that you, yes, you Bikergang, are at your healthiest off the bike to ensure a great ride on the bike! As a note, all topics mentioned in this post should be discussed further with your primary Physician before enacting any changes. Change is always something to embrace, so it's best to do it SAFELY!

Alright, let’s clip in!

During the winter months, more people tend to gather in warm indoor spaces like YEG Cycle. Contained areas make a perfect environment for bacteria and viruses to proliferate and spread. This constitutes to a rise in coughs, colds, and the dreaded flu! Some of the ways to reduce your chances of getting ill include but are not limited to…
  1. GETTING YOUR FLU SHOT!
    • This seems like a no-brainer. Protect yourself and others around you. Specifically small children and older adults.
  2. Washing your hands prior to any activity that involves your mouth, nose, and/or eyes.
    • Wash your hands with mild soap and water. Or, use an antibacterial antiseptic solution, hand sanitizer.
  3. When you sneeze, D.A.B.
    • Sneeze/Cough into the crook of your elbow and Destroy All Bacteria!
    • When you blow your nose, sneeze, and/or cough, the extra force gained allows the virus to travel several more meters by attaching to tiny air particles.
    • Cold and Flu viruses can also be spread through direct contact. Direct contact meaning, the virus resides on a surface, you touch it, and then give it direct entry into your body.
Scenario: You head into the studio and high five a fellow Bikergang member who just touched the door handle leaving the change room. Unfortunately, the handle they just touched has cold/flu viruses residing all over it. Not knowing this, you then touch your face (mouth/nose/eyes) with that same unclean hand. – Hello Cold/Flu #UnhappyBikergang
 
Without any hesitation, the winter months just seem to sap the moisture right out of our body. To combat against this, increase your water intake! Water is the elixir of life. As a Bikergang member this becomes a necessity for your rides. A well-hydrated body allows you to pump and dip to the beat of the music and sweat out toxins. It is ESSENTIAL for you Bikergang to replenish your body with a lot of water because of all the hard work you put in. It will drastically improve your chances of fighting illness and crushing whatever fitness goals you may have for yourself.

Another pro tip is to moisturize your skin regularly to lock in as much moisture as you can to prevent further drying of your skin. I suggest using a very versatile oil, like coconut. While cooking a delicious healthy veggie sauté, why not lather your skin & hair some coconut oil. You will glow & shine bright like the diamond you are.

Bask in your glow longer by heading outside and soaking in some vitamin D – sunshine! Vitamin D helps ensure strong bones and teeth. A strong frame makes for a fun, smiley, strong ride. At the very least, take a 25-30 minute walk daily. Maybe park farther away from the studio on sunnier days and walk over. Or, after your awesome ride at YEG Cycle, take a stroll with a fellow Bikergang talking about your favorite moments in class. You could also discuss with your primary Physician about Vitamin D supplementation. Just note that less sun exposure makes us S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Last, but certainly not least, exercise! It is a great way to relieve stress, keep warm, and boost your mental/physical immunity. Why not join us and other Bikergang members today for a fun ride at YEG Cycle! We will be sure to get those endorphins circulating.

If you have any questions, comments, topic ideas and/or concerns that you may want me to explore, send them in! I am more than happy to do so. Sending lots of love & light to you all Bikergang. I hope to catch you around the studio, whether that is off or on the bike.

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Grace, RN.

Grace's links for:
The Cold: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000678.htm

The Flu: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm
S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder): http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047





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Give it Up for GIVE’R: Little Warriors!

The studio energy is already on a spin high for this quarter’s new GIVE’R charity! Maybe it’s the thrill of water bottles cheering and hype towels waving after one of these killer Friday night classes, but it actually gets a little deeper than that.

Ever wondered why you feel so good after helping someone out? The practice of generosity releases endorphins in the brain that aid in improving mood, decreasing stress, and building social connections. You’re doubling up on the feel-good release of physical spin and the even better feeling of giving back to your community. We’re in the business of happiness, and you, the Bikergang, bring that statement to life every time you spin in support of our GIVE'R charities.

Our draw in January revealed YEG Cycle's newest GIVE'R charity; we have two months left to sweat in support of Little Warriors!

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Little Warriors is a national, charitable organization committed to the awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse. A big part of Little Warriors is the Be Brave Ranch, which is a long-term facility to help children who have been sexually abused by providing a variety of therapies run by clinical professionals. To help the children who access Little Warriors, we can support this charity every Friday night, 6:30pm, at a discounted drop in cost of $10; all proceeds from January 6 to March 31 go to this GIVE'R.

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One of our Bikergang members, Dallas, took his generosity a step further and held his own charity class last Sunday for Little Warriors. With about 35 riders in his class, this charity ride raised $1430 separate from YEG Cycle's GIVE'R donations. Dallas was able to connect his passions for charity work and spin; talk about being in the business of community!

If you're riding with us for Friday night GIVE'R classes, please make sure to hold your bike by registering on Thursdays 12am. We'll see you on the bike!

Find Little Warriors on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlewarriors
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LittleWarriors 
Instagram: https://instagram.com/littlewarriorscanada/

If you're interested in holding a charity ride of choice, please email oliver.kodershah@yeg-cycle.com





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YEG Off the Bike: Meet Your Mo'

Meet Dao.
Full-time mom, full-time educator, full-time inspiration - she's a true powerhouse on and off the bike. Here's a sneak peek into the life of Dao.

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Why do you love motivating?
I see it as sweat therapy, both for the Bikergang and myself. Sometimes I laugh at the fact that this is also a job! When I'm up on that bike and look out into the room, I see that we have more in common than we do differences, and that creates a place with powerful energy. I absolutely love to inspire others to focus, dig deep into who they are, and help discover potential. I really feel those moments in class where people just "click", surpassing a mindset of self-doubt. That's powerful, and I capitalize on that to push them even more. The Bikergang's hustle and determination is undeniable. Week after week I see people push past barriers and get so much stronger, confident and empowered. It's truly been a value added to my life.
Let's not forget about the music! Riding to hip-hop, R&B, reggae and dancehall is so authentic to who I am and I love it. The music alone makes me feel badass! 

What wakes you up every morning?
It’s honestly the people I'm surrounded by. As an Assistant Principal, I work at an inner city school with some of Edmonton’s most vulnerable children. Myself, along with the entire staff of dedicated teachers and support team, work tirelessly (and at times to our own detriment) so that the kids and their families have the best shot at life. Knowing that everyday I have a vital role in impacting someone's life is enough purpose and motivation for me to pop out of bed each morning. My family is also my reason and my WHY. I consider myself pretty lucky. My parents are the definition of survivors and they sacrificed a lot for my brother, my sister and me. I can only hope that how I live my life will make them proud, and that I can leave a legacy for my son so that he believes anything is possible in life. I wake up for all of THIS.

How do
 you stay Stronger Than Yesterday?
I love high intensity workouts and heavy lifting with my trainer, Becky, from Hogfit. Her program is so effective in leaning me out, and in building strength and muscle. When I can, I also get my butt out to 6am runs at November Project – they’re such an inspiring group. I make sure to always have these 1-3 hours to myself every single day. Working full time with a family can be very busy, but if I devote that necessary time to myself to build a stronger me, I'm happier and more effective at doing things for others. It’s more of an ability to prioritize versus having to balance everything. 

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What’s your pre-spin or post-spin routine?
I usually listen to my playlist in the car before I get to the studio. I'm sure the car next to me looks at me funny when the beat drops and I'm pumping and dipping. Post spin brings the "spin high", so I like to spend a little more time to myself to soak that all in. I'm never in a rush to get anywhere after a class. 

How do you treat yourself?
I'm a sushi addict and have it quite often at my two favourite places in Edmonton: Japonaise Bistro and Izakaya Tomo. I also love pies and donuts. I have convinced myself that with the amount of exercise I do, all of these treats are worth it! 
 
What’s your go-to track to ride to?
I absolutely love Night Life by Papa San. I play it near the end of my set with the lights out as a reset; this song really invites the Bikergang to get personal and push past limits, struggles and challenges they face on and off the bike. I love the lines "Let me live my life/I'm sleeping good tonight/Good vibes till morning light." The deep, soulful reggae beats mixed with these invigorating words make it the perfect moment in my class for that recharge, often allowing the opportunity for an emotional release or for tears of futility. It's truly a transformative time for me as well! 

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Where can we find you in the community?
My 5-year-old son is obsessed with this city, and we love to explore (or as he says, "go on adventures"). We are really everywhere; he’ll lead hikes in the hidden trails of Whitemud Park, stopping anywhere where there are rocks and a body of water. We love to go swimming at Queen Elizabeth Outdoor Pool (and YMCA pools on winter days), and go to festivals like the Fringe, Street Performers and Heritage Days in the summer. He also joins me on many of my workouts, and now he's just waiting to get older so that he can come and spin!
 
We're not in the business of spin classes - what are you in the business of?
Passion lays the foundation of who I am. Since day one, that has been the word that drives me in all aspects of my life, including every time I step into that room. I don't ever play it safe. Ask anyone. When I do something, I do it whole-heartedly, full out and with every ounce of effort. Creating that space and room for overcoming and betterment is always in the forefront. Community is also huge for me. Having the privilege of teaching the GIVE'R class has been such an honour. We are now on our 5th local charity, and I can't be more proud of our incredible contributions to date. 

Let us in on a secret - what’s something the Bikergang doesn’t know about you?
I'm the oldest motivator at 36 years old!

RIDE WITH DAO
FRIDAY 6:30pm (GIVE’R)
SUNDAY 9:15am

“Teaching the Friday night GIVE’R class is the perfect decompressor for the week, and Sunday morning is the best way to re-energize!”

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Bikergang Birthday Bumps: 10 Original Bikergang Stories

We're still celebrating our first birthday, and you, the Bikergang, are the key in creating this community. To celebrate, 10 Bikergang members who have been with us since January 2016 are excited to share how their sweaty rides have turned into something bigger. Click on their images below to see who these fire-starters are!

YEG Bikergang 3_copy1YEG Bikergang 5YEG Bikergang 6
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YEG Bikergang 1YEG Bikergang 2_copyYEG Bikergang 10YEG Bikergang 7YEG Bikergang 9YEG Bikergang 8


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Bring Your Waterbottles Up High and Cheers to Our One Year!

It’s been 365 days of sweat, smiles and spin, and we’re still here, stronger than yesterday. But what has defined that strength – the workout, or the feeling that comes up after your body has settled?

On the surface, spin is physical. Your legs challenge the push down of added tension, your body enters a balancing act between keeping the beat and moving through counts of 4, 8 and 16 in a HIIT, and the muscles in your arms pull back with force as you breath through chest presses on a 5-minute weights track. But at some point, you realize that this all works you mentally. Fifty minutes of moving your legs on a bike with 42 other riders turns into a space filled with magnetic energy, where you have the opportunity to dig in a little deeper on mental and emotional levels.

Whether you’ve just clipped into your first class or you’ve been on this journey with us for the past twelve months, I challenge you to be open to experiencing any emotion that comes up during your ride. Each motivator is there to guide you, the Bikergang community in that spin room is there to support you, but you hold the power to make one of two choices in those 50 minutes: unleash the courage to take a risk, or hold back in fear of uncertainty. The next time you find yourself in a battle between pushing past your limits and wanting to stay in the confines of your comfort zone, decide what small shift you can make in that moment. Maybe you’re chanting the mantra “yes I can and yes I will” until the end of the track. Maybe you make the slightest turn up with your tension. And then maybe you turn it back down. The point is that you trusted yourself to experience the unknown, no matter what the outcome.

Ride with your chest proud and high five your neighbours, Bikergang; it’s time to turn the page and take on another twelve months. Thank you for trusting this process and bringing your all in this past year. The energy you create is electric.

Big love.
Stephanie

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