Last Monday, Bates spinning classes were held for the first time in Old Commons.
Sophomore Rosy DePaul has followed this brainchild from her freshman year to its growing success today. After five days of classes, students have already been turned away due the limited number of bikes and the quickly growing enthusiasm for the classes.
Taking her inspiration from the popular cult exercise trend known as SoulCycle, DePaul teaches a class that has participants riding up and out of their bike saddle, peddling to the beat of feel-good pop songs, and taking breaks to lift weights, all while clearing their head of the silly distractions that we let bring us down when we don’t take the time to value ourselves.
While the rides are successful in catering to the steady flow of curious students, the journey getting here wasn’t without a few roadblocks. Like many Batesies, DePaul came to Bates and quickly realized that she would have to accept having a different exercise routine here than she had had at home. After a year of optimism, and a summer of spinning more than she ever had before, DePaul was eager to bring her love of spinning to Bates.
At first she tested the waters with organizers at Bates. “I thought that I’ll go meet with Kevin McHugh,” she explained, “and see what he thinks. If he says, ‘No, we’ve tried it,’ then okay, at least I had the conversation.”
It’s a good thing she tried, because McHugh liked the idea and encouraged DePaul to meet with someone to figure out spaces and scheduling, but “that’s really where the process got stalled,” DePaul said, “because they said, ‘We don’t have any space to do this on campus.’”
The main concern was that DePaul wouldn’t have anywhere to store and set up the bikes and then integrate the class into the P.E. schedule, but she couldn’t turn back because she had already begun her fundraising efforts as she was instructed to do in October.
“You can’t just give that [money] back, that’s not how fundraising works,” DePaul said.
They key ingredient to her success happened in December. “When I was home over winter break I may have jumped the gun a little bit. I met with an alum who’s an athletic liaison and on the alumni liaison board, and he sent an e-mail asking them to give me another chance.” This alum assured athletics that she would do it all independently, and continues to check in with DePaul on her progress today.
“Keith [Tannenbaum] was the one who really came forward and said, ‘Let’s make this happen,’” DePaul said.
Other supporters of the process have been the maintenance staff and Facility Services.
“The maintenance and facilities staff has been so helpful!” DePaul added. Anytime she asks them for help they come quickly to her aid, and now DePaul says she has “some buddies on the maintenance staff.”
Even though she’s focusing on helping riders to get settled right now, she isn’t afraid to dream about the future of Bates spinning. The bikes are around $250.00 each, so ideally she would have 20 riders in each class once her organization was able to provide more bikes.
Bates’ classification of student organizations has been difficult to manage as well. The issue is whether Bates spinning should be a registered student club or a P.E. class. Becoming a student club would mean that DePaul could receive funding and easily purchase more bikes, but this route would prevent her from making Bates Spinning a P.E. class.
Given that DePaul will be facing a higher demand in future weeks, she says it wouldn’t be bad to have another student who was a trained spinning instructor help her shift the supply curve.
Another consideration that I couldn’t help ask DePaul about was the entire experience of Bates spinning. At popular chains such as SoulCycle and FlyWheel, the therapeutic experience isn’t just on the bike, but it’s about the smell and glow of the room. Yes, consumers are paying for the exercise class and guidance during the time that they’re on the bike, but their willingness to pay is so much is because of the apparent magic that ensues when the scent of grapefruit-scented Jonathan Adler candles wafts through a dimly lit room equipped with high-tech sound systems and disco lights.
DePaul appeased any materialistic fears that lingered in my question by emphasizing her focus, in the college environment in particular, on crafting and promoting a positive mindset.
She explained, “because the space I’m in is so big, I’m trying to right now create the mindset that [space] doesn’t really matter, that what you need to focus on is right in front of you. That’s what a lot of people lose sight of in school. They start thinking about too many things at once and what’s most important is thinking about what you’re working on in that moment. People tend to stray from the moment because they’re stressed or worried or thinking about the future, but that can detract from what’s going on in front of you. If anything were to translate from spin class to real life it’s that you’re right here, this is what’s going on, you don’t need to focus on or worry about anything else.”
“That’s my favorite part about spinning,” she continued, “I get on the bike and suddenly everything else fades away. It’s gone, and it doesn’t matter to me and for forty five minutes I can just forget, and be there. My biggest concern,” she adds with a growing grin, “is whether I’m going to be able to push through that resistance.”