Steve Wilson stretches during a spinning class at the Hope Arena. Fifteen new units have been purchased

Warm up this winter with a spin class

Hope & District Recreation Centre offers five sessions a week

The cold, wet weather has relegated most bicycles to the garage for the winter… so how can an avid cyclist — or anyone wanting a warm and dry cardio workout — keep up with their fitness through the dark months?

Running on the beach in Hawaii would be nice, if the budget allows.

Closer to home, the Hope and District Recreation Centre now has 15 spinning cycles — and three staff members trained as instructors.

Recreational and cultural services manager Milly Marshall said the Schwinn cycles arrived in mid-October, at a price of approximately $1,000 each.

“We held off using them right away, because I wanted the instructors to have their certification first,” said Marshall.

Sessions began on Nov. 1 and are led by staff members Kim Richardson, Charlotte Rawlinson and Tracie Shively. Evening classes are run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. Morning sessions are on Wednesdays at 9:15, Fridays at 6:30 (yes… 6:30 a.m.) and Saturdays at 10:30.

The portable units are easily moved out of storage and into place in the mezzanine fitness area and are quick to adjust to fit each rider’s limbs. Units are set up in a large circle, so all riders face each other.

When the group is ready, the instructor cranks up the tunes and you’re off for a one-hour adventure. You can forget about angry dogs, careless drivers, wind, rain or potholes as this is the safest cycling you’ll ever do. Forget your helmet too!

But bring a towel. Without the wind to cool you down, you’ll soon be dripping.

Early in the session, for newcomers especially, the instructor will run you through the brake tension adjustment. Back the tension off and you’re free-wheeling. Turn the knob the other way and it’s like you’re climbing a steep hill. You’ll be directed to make adjustments and change your pace throughout the session, to challenge your heart rate then give it some recovery time.

After a 45-minute ride, there’s a cool-down pace, then you dismount and go through some stretches.

Steve Wilson, who had been to five sessions as of Monday, says he tells all newcomers to look out for rubbery legs on their way down the stairs. “Stay close to the railing on the way down,” he advises.

Wilson figures he has been the most consistent attender so far and he’s getting better at pacing himself.

“What I’m finding, as time goes on — and your fitness level increases — your base level on the tension increases.”

Sörren Palladino, who attended a yoga session and immediately jumped into the Nov. 3 spinning class, says, “I felt invigorated after doing the yoga and Tracie kept us at a good pace. The music was suitable and it kept me going. I’ll go back to another class again.”

Richardson, a long-time fitness specialist at the rec centre, says the spinning cycles help the centre achieve its goal of inspiring people to stay active.

“They are low-impact, so they can suit all kinds of people — men included,” she says.

“They are also a great calorie buster. Based on, say, a 150-pound woman — pushing herself to submaximal level — she could burn 500 calories in a session.

“There’s no coordination needed, either,” adds Richardson, “and we can more safely get our clients into anaerobic thresholds for maybe 30 seconds, with no impact.”

If you’d like to take a spin, it’s best to reserve a bike by visiting or calling the reception desk (604-869-2304). Bring a towel and a water bottle — and be on time, so you can get your bike adjusted before the class begins.

There’s new equipment at the Reflexions gym, too.

“We just got two new high-end treadmills, as we’ve had the old ones for six or seven years and they’ve had a lot of use,” says Richardson. “They are a very popular item.

“We’ve also got new glute and leg press machines, at about $5,000 each. We’ve got to buy professional-grade equipment, because it gets so much use,” adds Richardson.

For more details on recreation programs for all ages, visit the reception desk.