WPG Cycle: How long have you been doing spin?
Sunny Britton: That is a fabulous question, I need to calculate it… Probably around 5 years
WC: Tell me about your first spin experience, how did you get into it initially?
SB: I started my fitness journey about eight years ago, I weighed around 220 pounds after my third child was born and knew that I needed to make some changes. I started by changing my eating habits drastically and then once the weight started coming off I felt like it was time to add in exercise. I started by walking around the neighborhood which turned into running and that led to me joining the gym. I noticed people at the gym doing spin classes and thought that it looked like fun. I wanted to try it but was extremely intimidated by group fitness. As kind of a New Year’s resolution I decided to give it a try and was hooked after my first class.
My favorite part of the class was that it seemed like it was more about the music than the workout. Something for me just clicked and I realized I could totally lose myself in the music while still doing something amazing for my body. I wasn’t thinking ‘When will this be over?’ or ‘How many songs are left? I just got into the music and before I knew it the class was over and I was dripping with sweat.
One of the instructors at the gym noticed that I was starting to pick up on the moves in the class before the instructor. She said ‘you should totally be teaching this! I took the course to become an instructor and things just progressed from there. Shortly after, I started doing the choreography and training other instructors for boutique fitness studios that were opening in Calgary. This is where I really found my niche in the industry and where Rhythm & Resistance got its start.
WC: What do you love about spin and what motivates you to keep doing it? How do you keep the workouts fresh and avoid fitness fatigue or boredom?
SB: The amazing thing about working out with music as the motivation is that music is always changing. If you get bored with a certain style you can branch out into a different genre and find that there’s a whole new feel and a whole other vibe to keep your classes fresh. Fitness is by nature repetitive but being able to use music to set a different feel, mood and intensity for each class is what keeps it from being monotonous.
WC: What other workouts do you mix into your routine? What complements spin?
SB: I feel like running is a great complementary exercise. I run, stair climb and do yoga. A whole lotta yoga!
WC: So the same muscle groups you use in spin but in a different way?
SB: Absolutely. It’s also great to incorporate any type of side or lateral movement. In spin you’re always working with that forward plane of motion so things like side lunges, I like to side step on the stair climber, and glute work are great to incorporate into your routine for balance in the body.
WC: Tell me about your Rhythm & Resistance Training Program?
SB: Rhythm & Resistance is all about training instructors on how to use the music in their classes to connect with and inspire their riders. The instructors learn a lot about the “feel” of songs. Every song has an emotion attached to it for the person who’s listening. It can make you feel bad ass, moody, happy, reflective… I encourage my instructors to tap into the emotion that comes from the songs they’re choosing.
WC: To have a connection to it…
SB: Yeah and then to get that emotion across to their class while they’re teaching that song. There will always be other people in the room who are feeling that same emotion. Depending on the feel of the song, it can encourage people to push through a longer working phase or to push themselves with the resistance when they connect emotionally with the music being played.
When a song with an intense emotion behind it comes on, you can get five or six more turns on the dial from your team. All of the emotions felt in songs are valid in the spin room. We’re a group of people working out together yes, but also going through life together and all of the emotions that come along with that are important to work through. This isn’t simply a workout for the body it’s just as much for your mind and your soul.
WC: There definitely seems to be a mind-body connection not super common in most other workouts…
SB: A lot of people say that for them spin is therapy, it’s their church. It’s where they find community, connection and a sense of belonging.
WC: How many studios have you helped open?
SB: I have been a part of the opening and training of about seven studios across the country.
WC: In your experience, what makes a studio successful?
SB: Hmmm… that’s a good question. I would say when people are the focus, it’s always successful. When it’s not “fitness” as the focus, or money, it’s not swag, it’s not image. Genuine connection with the people who walk through the door is what makes a successful studio. Spin is for everyone. It’s important for a studio to be inclusive of each and every person who comes in. You will have athletes riding these classes and you’ll have people like me, who were peering through the window at the spin class thinking they’d never have the courage to try. Everyone has a place in that room and an important role to play in the class.
WC: What would you say to someone who said “spin is not for everyone”?
SB: Oh gosh, I would say it is absolutely for everyone. There’s something for everyone in a spin class. Like I said, it’s not just about the physical, it’s emotional and spiritual. You might have someone who comes into the room whose goal is to burn 600 calories, and they’ll clip in next to a person who has come there to have 50 minutes away from some really heavy stuff, or whatever is going on in their personal life. The beautiful thing is when those people with their different reasons for being there can rely on each other to get whatever it is they need out of the ride.
WC: What qualities make for a good instructor?
SB: Much like a successful studio, a good instructor needs to be about the people first and foremost. An instructor who doesn’t hold back and allows themselves to be real will always connect deeper with their class. Honesty makes the difference between a good instructor and a great instructor. I am all about honesty with the instructors I teach and as an instructor, I expect it from my riders as well. I also find that the best instructors always have a bit of showmanship in their blood.
WC: What makes WPG Cycle Special?
SB: Do I have to pick just one thing? I love the diversity in this team of instructors. There’s a real mix and I’ve never seen that before. Everyone has a different look, a different vibe, different tastes in music and brings their own unique spin -see what I did there- to the studio. The other thing I’ll say about WPG that I love is that it is NOT just a group of instructors… it’s a family. I’m honored to have been able to work alongside a family that so genuinely cares about each of it’s members. Winnipeg is so lucky to have this studio…
WC: Current favorite spin song?
SB: This is a running joke with my teams… I say every single song is my favorite, but right now I’m feeling “Blow this Club” by Max Vangelis
WC: Favorite spin move?
SB: That’s a tough one. Can’t say that I have a favorite move…but I’ll take a jog anytime, any day.
WC: Words to live by?
SB: For me it’s always ‘Go Big or Go Home’. In everything that I do.