Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Portrait of Three Spinners

AGE: 50
IN CLASS MOTIVATIONAL MANTRAS: “Suck it Up!” “Attack!” “This is surgery we’re doing!” “Mind over matter!” “Feel good! “Be happy!
IN CLASS TUNES: Eclectic mix of techno and rock.

Bee pollen. And seaweed.

These are Peter Gault’s preferred sources of protein. No meat, no dairy, no legumes. No way.

He became a raw foodist in 1997 when he met California raw food pioneer David Wolfe in San Diego. At his home gym, Peter serves me a meal of “mashed potatoes” (ground cauliflower, cashews, olive oil and salt) and “hamburger” (beets, celery, avocado, olive oil and salt). It’s delicious.
“Only a handful of people in the city know how to make the food I make,” he says.

Gault is not only a hugely popular spinning instructor; he’s a wellness coach, a raw food chef and a wholistic trainer. Just don’t call him a guru.
“I’m not on that power trip. A lot of people are wanting that. I’m taking the pretension out of it all by making it fun.”

He got his spinning certification at Mad Dogg Athletics in New York and used to teach up to four classes a day. He says getting certification is easy but getting a job is hard. “In New York I used to ride my bike to all these different gyms to do my spinning classes. My life was a quest to hydrate. Now I teach one spinning class a day, which is the perfect amount of exercise.”

He’s lived in boats and trailers. He’s had two novels published and is ready to submit a third. He’s a passionate, off-the-grid guy and he attributes it to diet and exercise.

“Spinning is almost my theatre in a way, it’s where I get to perform. I put my class in the zone. Now and then I’ll crank up a really great song and let them go for it. No drills, no exercises. I’ll just let them meditate and enjoy the feeling.”

AGE: 45
IN CLASS MOTIVATIONAL MANTRAS: Drive it! I think I can, I think I can! Your endorphins kick in now!
TUNES: Top 40 favourites.
COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Off the charts

Katie is on the bike, legs pumping, and singing to U2. She has her eyes closed and her huge smile lights up the intimate church basement room. She radiates health, beauty and joy.
She also has multiple sclerosis.
“It’s exactly three years ago, May 18, that I was diagnosed with MS,” she says. “But I’ve lived with it for almost two decades.”

Katie credits Charlene Sullivan, Greg Lundrigan and Gudran Hardes, the owners of Main Street Cardio, for their support.
“When I found out I had MS, I cried a lot with Charlene. She always believed in me. I feel like this is home.”

Main Street Cardio is an inspiring environment. The designated heritage building with its stained glass and spacious rooms invites participants to nurture their bodies and minds through classes like spin, yoga and meditation.

Katie is no slouch on the bike. The mother of three teaches an hour class followed by a half hour stretch. “I’ve always loved spinning. It’s a great endorphin rush and calorie burner. You sweat out all your poisons. When my kids were younger and I’d be sleepless, I’d do a class and it just made me feel so purged.”

Doesn’t heat aggravate MS? “It can. If I’m in an exacerbation, when my tingles and my numbness torque up, I take it easy. Once it’s over, I slowly work my way back up. I don’t know if everyone with MS could do it.

For the past three years on National MS Day, Main Street Cardio has held a 108 Sun Salutations Event to raise money for the MS Society. Katie is an eager participant.

“My two feelings when I was diagnosed were ‘I’m going to live to the fullest and I’ll have to let go of some things’. It’s all about balance. Work hard, play hard and laugh.”

GYM: Metro Central YMCA, 20 Grosvenor St.
AGE: 34
IN CLASS MOTIVATIONAL MANTRAS: A steady stream of coaching and instruction
TUNES: Dance, techno
BPM: 145-172

Lynn Tougas slides off her bike mid-climb and fetches the water bottle that a spinning participant dropped. She smiles and hands it to the panting woman. The class needs all the hydration it can get. This is spinning with a high level athlete.

“I competed with Team Canada at the Amateur Duathlon World Championship,” she says. “I went to Germany in 1998 and North Carolina in 1999. Duathlon starts with a 10 K run, then a 40 K bike and finishes with a 5K run.”

Lynn considered training for the Olympics, but finding a good female cycling mentor proved difficult. Instead she got accredited by the National Coaching Certification Program and uses those skills in her classes to keep people moving.

Lynn comes by her fitness honestly. Her father was in the Navy and used to show her videos of his basic training. Her mother took Lynn and her brother to the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club (a YMCA outreach program) for judo and swimming lessons when they were young.

She loves the Y because of its diversity. “It’s an established charity. Money gets to the right places in a timely manner and it’s visible. People who work here tend to be here a long time.”

What does a high level athlete do to relax and have fun? “I play hockey in a co-ed recreation league a couple of times a month. Everyone at some time in their life should try a team sport.”

Lean and toned, Lynn looks a lot like another hockey player, Cassie Campbell. Single, she thinks she may intimidate some men with her level of fitness. Whoever she dates will have to be athletic. “Opposites attract, up to a point. My guy will probably end up being a rower.”

How can she assure a guy she’s not going to break him in two? “I don’t.”