To tour the Wigdor Cycling Studio, aka the Dark Room, hover over the image. (Photos: James Byard/Washington University)
Indoor cycling — sad substitute for the real thing or the hottest party on campus?
Meghann Feely, assistant director of fitness and wellness at Sumers Recreation Center at Washington University in St. Louis, insists it’s the latter.
“Yes, you are sitting on a stationary bike going nowhere,” said Feely, who leads Bear Fit cycling classes in the Wigdor Cycling Studio, known as the Dark Room. “But what we have created here in the Dark Room is an experience. We’ve got great music and a great sound system. We’ve got a space that is sexy and fun. And we’ve got a community that is friendly and supportive.”
And you’ve got instructors like Feely, who is more DJ than drill sergeant. She sets the ride’s vibe, coaxing riders to move to the beat and reminding them how sexy they are. Some class members are amused; others are dubious. But by the end of a sweaty, high-intensity session, everyone believes it.
‘I know a lot of people shy away from the term ‘sexy,’” Feely said. “But to me, it’s not something raunchy. It’s about how we love ourselves and love our bodies. Working out is sexy.”
Still, Feely understands why some students stray from their routines this time of year. It’s cold, midterms are coming and the Bear’s Den comfort-food station is calling. But she encourages students, staff and faculty to take that time for themselves. And to those who have never visited, now is the time. Sumers is free to full-time students and $200 a year for faculty and staff. Alumni, retirees and spouses also may join. All new members receive a free Bear Fit assessment with a trainer.
“I can’t think of a better way to stay on track than group fitness,” Feely said. “Before class, I’m trying to talk myself into working out. But it never fails, when I come into this studio and see the people there, I get so excited. I always remind myself that they took the hardest step be coming to class. They’re here because you’re here. And you’re here because they’re here. We give each other this energy.”
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