After four years, an Ottawa spin class that started out of one man's passion for cycling and the drive to keep people fit continues to grow.
And it's all for a good cause.
Vivek Kumar decided to start the Moffat Farm Cycling Club in the basement of his home in the Hog’s Back area after cycling played a huge part in helping him reach his fitness goals, dropping from his peak weight of 350 pounds.
“First I signed up for a spin boot camp at Carleton U…that was the first time I’d ever done a spin class, I didn’t even know what it was,” Vivek said in a sit-down interview with OttawaMatters.com.
He was quickly addicted and became certified to teach in 2012, opening up a separate studio where he met his current romantic and spin partner Celine Filion. He then decided to bring it to his basement in December 2014 and donate all the proceeds to charity.
Filion came on board and Vivek bought 20 bikes for his large basement, which has now been transformed into a full spin studio and has only grown since then.
The original plan was four nights a week, which lasted about a month before it went to six and then seven nights a week, as Vivek couldn’t keep himself away from his passion.
He said the idea then “took off,” mostly by word of mouth, attracting cyclists and fitness fanatics of all ages to his beautiful home on Rahul Drive.
With a growing waiting list, 20 bikes quickly ballooned to 26, which Vivek said has pretty much maxed out his space, but interest has remained steady, with winter wait lists typically hovering around a dozen people.
Filion has acted as somewhat of a voice of reason, otherwise “I’d probably knock down another wall,” he said.
The classes are 'pay what you can' and while operating with a business structure, Vivek doesn’t like to refer to it as that, as all of the proceeds goi to charity because both he and Filion want “to give back.”
The first charity that came on board was ‘Candlelighters,’ a childhood cancer support program, as Vivek's son from his previous marriage had developed leukemia and he had seen the great work they did for the community.
Now, the class rotates through charities every three to six months, with over $60,000 donated to charity since the start of the classes in 2014.
“People love it,” Filion said. “People love that they’re able to come and get fit and give back in another way. It resonates with a lot of the community and lot our riders.”
It’s also the community feel and non-judgemental space that has attracted members, which includes a lounge space and an espresso machine.
“What’s super important to Vivek and I is that our studio, the environment we’ve been able to create, has really enabled a lot of people who were not necessarily into fitness or going to gyms, they’ve come down here and we’ve been able to change their lives,” Filion said.
"Now all of a sudden they have cardiovascular health, they’re taking care of themselves, they’re making better life choices because they have that self-confidence.”
The studio has state of the art equipment, allowing riders to monitor their current pace and keep track of long-term goals based on a profile created within in-house software.
Vivek said the competitive nature of the class can also be motivating for some, but many are just there to achieve their own fitness goals and stay healthy.
Classes run six nights a week and more information for those interested can be found on the club’s website.