Members have a new nature-friendly exercise option at the Winston Lake Family YMCA.
Its new outdoor biking class is being billed as a break from treadmills, ellipticals and other traditional fitness center machines. Riders depart the Winston Lake Y and pedal their way to various bike-friendly sites around the city and then back to the Y.
The Y has seven new mountain bicycles and helmets it can loan to participants; riders are also welcome to use their own bikes.
Winston Lake Y Program Director Jolyn Roberts frequently leads the rides and said that the class, which is free to YMCA members, has been a hit, attracting up to seven riders per session and many regular participants.
“Since we’ve been doing it, there’s never been somebody who says ‘I’m not coming back,’” said Roberts.
Roberts said that the bike class, which started in August, was the brain child of Y Executive Director Shawan Gabriel, who also leads some of the sessions. He was inspired by a similar program at a YMCA on the West Coast. It is currently the only class the Winston Lake Y offers outside of the walls of its facility.
Winston-Salem has made a big push to become more cyclist-friendly. Class participants are able avoid busy streets by using trails, sidewalks and greenways to destinations like Salem Lake, Winston Lake and even Marketplace Mall’s walking/biking trail. Classes for new riders last about 30 minutes, but those for the more experienced can take up to two hours. Rides take place at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to avoid the hottest parts of the day. The weather has also been cooperating with classes. As of last week, only one class had to be canceled due to rain.
Linwood Skinner, a youth basketball instructor at the Y who leads the bike class on Tuesdays, said it’s a challenging but relaxing form of exercise. He’s constantly telling apprehensive members to give the new class a try.
“Everybody knows how to ride a bike,” he said. “It’s just a different, fun type of exercise.”
Roberts and Skinner say the class is a breeze; neither of them cycled regularly before the classes began.
“A lot of people who’ve been doing it said they haven’t rode a bike in years,” said Roberts.
That was the case for two participants in Thursday evening’s class. Both Mike Chambers and Tiffany Martin-Clark said they hadn’t rode a bicycle since they were kids. Thursday marked Chambers third outdoor cycling class. He said he tried it because he was looking for a different kind of workout.
“It was fun being outside on the bikes,” said Chambers, who’s been going to the Y his entire life. “It’s tiring but it’s fun.”
Martin-Clark tried the class for the first time on Thursday. She came to the Y to work out while her son played at the facility when she was recruited to the class by Skinner.
“I like to try new things. It’ll be a good experience for me,” said Martin-Clark, who became a Y member in February.
Before taking off on her first bike ride since she was 15-years-old, Martin-Clark got a quick crash-course from Skinner in the Y’s parking lot. He showed her how to work the bike’s gears.
Thursday’s ride, which had Marketplace Mall as its destination, was full with six riders, including Roberts and Linwood, since the Y’s seventh bike was down with a flat tire.
Currently the class meets four times a week, but in October, it’ll split into three classes based on experience: beginner, intermediate and advanced.
The Outdoor Biking Program meets at the Winston Lake YMCA, 901 Waterworks Road, at 8 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information call 336-724-9205.