I consider myself a fair-weather cyclist. For several months of the year, it’s my main mode of transportation around the city. I enjoy the exercise, and it gets me from point A to B cheaply and fairly efficiently. In all my years of riding a bike, however, I had never taken part in a spin class. The few times that I had hopped on a stationary bike at the gym, I found it, well, boring. Plus, fear that I would not being able to keep up with hardcore spin-lovers made signing up for a class intimidating.
Last week, I had the chance to try out a new spin studio that recently opened in Gastown. Eastwood Cycle Sanctuary (154 West Hastings Street) is located across from the Woodward’s building.
I hesitated about going at first. (Seriously, nightmarish visions of being yelled at by a stranger before I eventually fell off the bike crossed my mind.) But I was assured that my experience would likely be different from even my wildest imaginations, and at Eastwood the focus is on creating a cycle sanctuary.
I showed up bright and early on Saturday morning right before the 10:45 a.m. class. Clearly this was my bright and early because two classes had already been completed earlier in the day. Eastwood owner Jillian Sheridan greeted me in the lobby, where other participants signed in and slipped on SPD clip-in shoes. The interior design of the entrance is the stuff of Pinterest dreams: lots of natural light, high ceilings, white-washed walls, just the right amount of exposed brick, oversized candles, Moroccan-inspired furnishings, and a set of oversized cerulean wooden doors leading into the room with all of the bikes.
Downstairs, the Instagram-worthy interiors—the work of designer Brenda Crago—continue, with a comfortable lounging area for before and after classes, men’s and women’s changing rooms and showers, and lockers.
I didn’t have much time to lounge before class, however, so back upstairs I went. The room with all the bikes is dark, lit only by candles. I was told that cycling by candlelight emphasized the “sanctuary” aspect. For me, this meant that perhaps less people would notice if I stopped pedaling.
Before starting, my instructor explained how to use all of the equipment on the new Schwinn bikes. We also adjusted our seats to the right height and placed a set of one- or three-pound free weights right behind the saddle. Then the 45-minutes of non-stop pedaling began.
At times, we were instructed to turn the dials on our bikes to increase the resistance, and at other points, we were told to pedal in time with the beat and lift our butts in the air. By the time we got to pumping those free weights as our legs continued to pedal, I was pretty exhausted.
I enjoyed my first spinning experience. Did cycling in the dark to a soundtrack that included Britney Spears and Icona Pop help? Yes, probably. Did I feel like a warrior woman high on endorphins as I wiped the sweat off my face with a eucalyptus steam towel afterwards? Absolutely, and those snappy clip-in shoes did make me feel like a pro.
As Vancouver’s weather forecast becomes awash with rain, I won’t have a chance to bicycle outside as often, so I’m looking forward to taking my ride indoors. I just might be a spin convert.
Eastwood Cycle Sanctuary offers classes seven days a week. The first class is free. After that, there’s a $100 one-month unlimited for new participants. Single-class drop-ins are $25 and packages start at $115.