Those Who Kvetch Together, Stay Together

Written by Shlomit Ovadia of JCC Denver

Did you ever consider cycling to be a social activity? Here at JCC Denver’s Fitness and Aquatics Center, community members connect, collectively lament, and laugh while pedaling towards healthier and happier lives.

Spin instructor Stacey Young brings 25 years of experience as an avid cyclist to her upbeat and heart pumping classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

“I love the community and commitment of my members,” she shares of her modest cult following, who show up week after week to feel the burn.

Being a complete newbie to cycling myself, I decided to visit and see what the hype was all about. As people chatted and stretched in the moments leading up to class, Stacey came over and helped me adjust my bike while aiming jokes at class regulars without missing a beat. At one point, Stacey even took a participant’s phone and spontaneously used her music playlist for class. It was a light and fun moment that reflected the energy of the room.

Despite challenging moments that elicited encouraging woo-hoos from fellow cyclists, Stacey’s spin class was filled with folks of all levels, from the new mom just getting back into a workout routine to the seasoned athlete or JCC Denver workout instructor.

“Stacey’s classes are great for literally everyone because she works in power zones. That number is gonna be the exact right effort for every individual in that class, so even on hard days, you know you can still do the work,” a cyclist to my right named Alex tells me.

Alex Hoover joined Stacey’s classes this past fall as part of his triathlon training regimen.

The power zones Alex is referencing are used to help people quantify and build their exertion level. Yet, these performance markers are not standardized and are instead set by an individual’s threshold using a periodization model.

“I can drop my kids off at school and get a workout in,” Alex adds. “The pool is also really nice compared to other options in the area.”

Between cycling classes with Stacey, swimming in the JCC outdoor pool, and cross-training, Alex can stack his workouts at the J to prepare for his Olympic-length Colorado Triathlon this month.

“Stacey is just so funny, she has a warm personality,” a regular named Joe to my left tells me. “She’ll say, ‘there is no kvetching today’ and I say, ‘what is a spinning class without kvetching,’” of their ongoing banter.

Joe Goldhammer, 76, is a professor of law at the University of Denver and has been a member of the J for 7 decades. He began taking spin classes here in 1996 and hasn’t looked back.

“The comradery around the people in class, their rigor, it’s the personalities and people,” Joe shares. “Most gym locker rooms are quiet, but at the JCC everyone talks to each other.”

Besides spinning, Joe also takes swimming lessons with Jackie Clark and yoga on Sunday mornings with Phil Greenberg.

At the end of the day, no matter how you get your fitness fix on at the J, there is always someone cheering for you and a wonderful community of people who care. Challenge yourself this month and try a class with us or join the Summer Shred Challenge beginning June 17.