Two years ago, a friend convinced Myra Woods to try a Spinning class at the Schenectady YMCA.
Woods wasn’t sure she could do it.
At age 55, she was in excellent health and did regular workouts at the Y, but she didn’t even ride a bike outdoors. She didn’t want to go into the room with the 21 indoor cycling machines.
“I was intimidated by it,” Woods says.
But with her friend coaxing her, Woods went in, and the YMCA coach helped her get started.
“I really wondered if I could make it. But I came back the next day and the next day. I fell in love with it because I just felt so much better.”
Today, in that bright yellow cycling room, Woods is one of the instructors or coaches leading the classes and playing the music that keeps everyone pumped up.
“I enjoyed it so much I went and got certified,” she says.
While many younger people are into Spinning as a way to stay in shape for outdoor bicycling, it’s also an excellent workout for middle-aged men and women, she says.
“People in their 50s, they think they can’t do it, but when I started riding, I just felt so much better that it made me want to ride. Spinning is a great activity for lungs and hips, muscles and knee joints. Somehow when you ride, it strengthens those muscles around those hip joints. It creates lubrication for the knees. I had some hip joint aches that went away.”
When you’re on the cycle, you often feel like you’re not going to make it, Woods confesses.
“But when you get off, it’s amazing how much stronger you feel. It’s invigorating.”
People who do have knee problems need to talk to the instructor. It may be better not to stand as much when you cycle or keep the resistance lower, she says.
“It’s your ride and the coach will work with you. You choose how you need to ride. We’ll be talking to you about how you are feeling, how your heart rate is. We’ll tell you to pay attention to your body, pay attention to what’s going on.”
Indoor cycling is different from your average outdoor bike ride around the neighborhood because it really challenges the core muscles.
“These seats, they are not comfortable, but it’s designed to strengthen your core. You kind of hover on the seat. You learn to tighten those gluts and your muscles around your butt and you kind of lift yourself off. It strengthens your thighs, your calves. You are on there but everything is taut.”
The Schenectady YMCA, 433 State St., across from Proctors, offers spin classes that are 30 minutes, 45 minutes and one hour.
If you want to try it, you can join the Y, come to a class as a guest or have a member bring you as a guest.
There’s also Silver Sneakers, for people age 65 and over who are on Medicare or other participating group insurance plans.
This fall, she taught Spinning to a group where the majority of participants were women over 50.
“We had a good time. It’s fun doing it with friends,” Woods says.
“And with the ladies, I was doing music from the ’60s and ’70s.”
Woods is also an instructor for three other YMCA programs: Diabetes Prevention, Peddling for Parkinsons and Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery. In addition, she conducts a Healthy Living program for men who live in YMCA housing on Broadway.
According to Woods, her best training for her YMCA jobs was raising three children as a stay-at-home mom.
“I like to see people achieve and succeed in things,” she says.
Woods and her husband, Dennis, the pastor of Schenectady Nazarene church on Consaul Road, moved to Schenectady from Florida six years ago.
Woods still has a son at home, 20-year-old Caleb, who works at the Y as a wellness coach. Another son lives in Florida, a daughter lives in Tennessee and a stepson is in Oklahoma.
The couple has six grandchildren.
Woods’ philosophy for working out is simple:
“Enjoy it. Have fun. Don’t kill yourself so you don’t want to come back. Find something you enjoy doing. Do something that you are going to enjoy for a lifetime.”
Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197, [email protected] or on Twitter @bjorngazette.