Sweat Local

The last “in-studio” spin class I taught was on Saturday, March 14. There were 21 of us (a full class in my studio). The next morning, I sent an email limiting class to 10 people. That same afternoon, I sent an email cancelling classes for two weeks. One week after that, I cancelled classes indefinitely.

Then, like many instructors, I went virtual. I got a Zoom account, downloaded Loopback (a sound program), set up my bike trainer, and started teaching four classes a week- two strength classes and two spin classes. Some people paid me via Venmo, some people didn’t pay me at all. Two people dropped money off at my house. Classes were free if you couldn’t afford them; I wanted people to keep exercising, for the mental as well as physical benefits.

The live classes gave us accountability. They kept us honest. It’s amazing how much harder you work when you’re on camera. And it was nice to see someone other than my husband and my teenage children during #saferathome. (Oh hey family- if you are reading this, it’s just hyperbole! Love you!).

As the weeks wore on, I started to get emails. “Are you renting out your bikes?”(No, they aren’t mine to rent, the gym owns them). Can you recommend a spin bike to buy? (Yes, here are some brands that are good, or you can buy a trainer for your road bike for even cheaper).

Then, I started to see the Facebook posts: Who has a Peloton? Should I buy one? I can’t wait for my Peloton to come. Get a peloton! I love my peloton. Instructor X is the best. I was the lone voice in Facespace, commenting into the void that there were cheaper bikes that were just as good. That I offered spin classes, too. That even if you DID buy a peloton, you could still use that bike to take a LIVE class from me, in real time!

Every time someone I knew bought a Peloton, a spin bike lost its wings. Okay, that’s not true. But a little part of me died inside every time someone posted that they bought one. I knew I had just lost a client (or potential client).

I began to see Peloton as the Amazon of the fitness world. Peloton started with spin classes, then moved to strength and running and stretch and yoga, and now it’s a one-stop shop for online fitness, with lots of money and resources behind it.

I’m not here to trash Peloton (or any of the other large companies that have online offerings). Their app is good. Their instructors are talented. The bike is solid. I do think it’s more expensive than it should be, but if you are going to spend money on something, spending it on something that will make you healthier, and possibly happier, is totally okay in my book.

But here’s the thing. When the economy shut down in March, everyone talked about supporting our local restaurants and small businesses. People ordered take out, bought gift certificates, and shopped online from local retailers. They made public declarations, promising to patronize these mom and pop retailers once they were allowed to open. Don’t go to Target. Shop local! For every dollar you spend locally, 67 cents stays in the local community! Because we all knew that our small businesses wouldn’t survive without community support.

So it’s probably not a surprise when I tell you that your local yoga studio or spin studio or neighborhood gym won’t survive if you don’t start supporting them.

I propose that we start a SWEAT LOCAL campaign. I’m not saying you have to go back to the gym right now or take in-person classes if you are not comfortable. But I’m asking that you choose your local fitness studio first. Whether that’s an outdoor class or a virtual one, most gyms and studios have gone online; most studios are even keeping their outdoor and online classes going as they open up their indoor facilities. If you have a Peloton, try a live spin class with a local instructor. Yes, this means you have to ride at a certain time, instead of just working out when you want, but I guarantee you will have a more personal experience, with more accountability.

Let’s not let physical distancing turn into social distancing. Support your local fitness studios. Stay in touch with your community. Sweat local.



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Amy Woods

Amy Woods

Amy was a teacher for 22 years and now spends her time teaching fitness classes, training for marathons and triathlons, and trying to raise two teenagers.