January 17, 2011

Photo credit: Jeremy Jenum

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts you’ll know that I recently completed my first triathlon.  That exercise got me back on bicycle for the first time in over 15 years, and I loved the feeling of motion with the wind in your face.  But as winter approached, I knew I needed a way to keep it up without having to face the perils of an Ottawa winter.  So luckily for me, I found  my local yoga studio offered a series of SpinFit classes.

This fitness studio is a great example of a local business success.  I have to admit when I saw another studio go into the spot in our local mall, I was not optimistic; we have seen small gyms come and go — it seemed that none had found a winning formula that catered to the community in a way that resulted in a profitable business.  But the ladies at Maitreya have proved me wrong.

Since they started up a couple of years ago, the owners have quickly figured out the appropriate niche to appeal to the Manotick crowd hitting on the perfect mix of yoga, pilates and spinning to meet the needs of this aging suburban community.  The two principals come from a long background in fitness and have used their experience to advantage.   They started with the environment, creating an inviting studio with heated floors and soft lighting, creating an intimate setting for a “not too big” class for yoga.  They built small but pleasing men’s and women’s change/shower areas and completed the look with a charming lobby where herbal tea is served after class and where you can browse for yoga clothing, candles and other small gift items.

I had originally discovered the studio as a place to go for yoga; although by no means proficient at that practice, I had tried it for the first time about a decade ago, and really loved the peaceful feeling I left each class in, even if I couldn’t do the poses terribly elegantly. As I began my winter running program, I added a weekly yin yoga class at the studio to help with stretching, and felt it really added to my fitness.  Even the breathing was beneficial.

This fall I was delighted when I saw they offered three slightly different spinning classes that I could attend to get my fix as well as keep up and hopefully grow my skills.  The first is a combo-pack – spinning and yoga, with 2/3 of the class spent spinning and the last 20 minutes spent doing yoga stretches.  This class is a great short intensity ride where Carole drills us and pushes us to give more; she usually has us gasping for breath by the time 40 minutes is up. (Of course, in any of their classes, you set your own intensity – you decide how high a gear you feel up for today and nobody knows if you’re having a slacker moment or not.)  And then, we change gears, get out the yoga mats and do some deep stretches to work out the kinks.  A perfect combination!

Class number two, mid-week, is the cardio-fitness one –  a great class for beginners, but also a good workout even if you’ve been spinning for a while.  In this class especially, they recommend a heart rate monitor so that you can accurately push yourself to the appropriate level.  Their high-tech Keiser indoor cycles display your heart rate along with the usual stats about RPM, watts, calories, time and distance.  Olena is religious about making sure our ride is orderly and every change is signaled with plenty of time and clarity – we know what gear we’re at and for how long.  She calls out the target percent of maximum heart rate at each point so you can measure whether you’re pushing hard enough.  And once finished, she makes sure all our muscle groups get a thorough stretch.

At the end of the week is Dawn-Marie’s class, a solid 60 minute ride that is usually a challenge.  Dawn-Marie makes a point of having some kind of theme for the class, whether it be seasonal like the recent Halloween-themed class we had, or some particular training drill, like tabatas. She makes it fun with a wide variety of music selections, like a recent Disco class, and even has us singing along on occasion — it takes our minds off the fact that we’re ready to drop from exhaustion!  It is a thorough workout, and a few of us have been known to calculate how many glasses of wine the calorie counter represents at the end of class.

Ever attentive to their client base, Carole and Olena are constantly adjusting the series of classes that are available so that we’re constantly challenged and not getting bored.  It really looks like they’ve got this Manotick community figured out!