It is of no surprise to anybody that I am going to say the World Spinning® and Sports Conference is an absolute highlight on my calendar and has been since the first one I attended as a very fresh Master Instructor back in 1999 in Los Angeles. They have continued to be amongst other things a wonderful source of inspiration, education and reunion of community with instructors from all over the world.
I live over 15,000 kilometers from most of my fellow instructors and MI’s. Every year when I go home from a WSSC I leave with a heaviness of heart that my time to share, ride, laugh and experience the amazing energy of our community is once again over. I am then faced with the task of carrying the torch of the program back to my country and at times if can feel a little lonely.
Although we have a steady growing number of wonderful Spinning® instructors in Australia we are also inundated with many other indoor cycling programs that challenge our philosophy and can be difficult to rise above the non-believers of a mind-body experience on the bike. By nature our population here is very athletic but also very physical in their approach to exercise. Our Spinning® instructors here therefore can easily fall off the wagon and conform to the status quo rather than teach the way they know to be true to the essence of our program. It is a daily battle and not everybody has the confidence in themselves to stand up for what they believe in. Therefore after 16 years with the program it is ironic that I am still teaching and promoting the same message as if it were new. In every Orientation and in every class I do my best at creating an opportunity for the riders to know they are safe and hold the power of self -creation. The success of this message being received is based on the riders not being afraid of feeling and expressing themselves through their rides. I believe it is only then do they have the power to create truly amazing results both physically and mentally for themselves and their students.
It is for this reason that when I ‘come home’ to a WSSC it is such a joy to be surrounded by people that are open to feeling, to expressing and inviting transformation on all levels through the power of the bike. For me personally it is like living in a world where nobody speaks my language and then for one weekend a year I am finally understood. It is more than likely that due to this that earlier this year I became restless with what felt like a-disconnect from my life at home. I desperately needed to feel as though I had something of worth to give back and that it would be received by those that understood and appreciated. I also for myself wanted to be around people that I felt inspired and motivated by on a level that was deeper than just the surface.
‘Ask and you shall receive’ and through the blessings of the Universe I did! Trusting an inner voice or emotion deep inside my gut I did what some could say was crazy: I resigned from my day job as a fitness teacher and decided to take leave to discover what really made me happy and fulfilled. Part one of this process was taking the final 6 weeks to train full time for my first Ironman. The second part was to travel to wherever I needed to be to find others that spoke my language.
I called this my Spinning® pilgrimage. I wanted to travel and get amongst my Spinning® friends in their own studios and be simply be a student again, a fellow rider in the class enjoying the ride with no obligation or pressure to be at the front of the room. I was restless here and needed to experience the Spinning® energy and love for longer than a WSSC weekend. I also hoped to somehow create an opportunity to present rides to people I would normally not ever have a chance to ride with. My aim was to bring a little bit of Australia into the ride and also to deliver a message that has been extremely relevant for me: that no matter who you are or where you are from, if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything you apply yourself to.
It is said when you are in alignment with the Universe everything will be as it should be. The Ride of Oz Tour most definitely grew organically from a feeling, to an idea, to a message, an email and then a group of amazing contributors who supported the purpose and my vision. I knew that because I was being looked after by the greater powers above that this tour was not about my own financial gain but still needed to have value. I wanted the Tour to generate awareness and funds for an organization that did not have the loudest of voices or the largest of forums. This charity also needed to encompass the message of perseverance, strength and gratitude regardless of their obstacles. The KIDS Foundation and meeting the founder again was one of those things that I did not realize was happening at the time, but looking back it was always meant to be. This organization raises money and awareness for children that are severe burn victims and it then became my goal to raise for them $10,000 over the next year through these charity rides.
At the conclusion of WSSC I spent the month of June moving through the East Coast of the US visiting Spinning® friends and family and immersing myself in all that I was blessed to experience in my travels. The Ride of Oz was hosted at three different Spinning® facilities. Charleston RIDE in Charleston was my first stop. The amazing crew there managed to raise a whopping $1300 through bikes sales, Kangaroo event shirts and generous individual donations. Later that month there were planes, trains and automobiles to get this traveling Kangaroo out past Amish-land to World Gym in Maryland. The super lovely team there gathered bikes from three of the smaller studios to create one big ride and who would have thought there would even be a fellow Aussie in the crowd. 360 Energy in Motion in Miami was the last stop and was a wonderful finish to the tour to be surrounded by lots of familiar and happy faces. Collectively the three clubs raised nearly $2700 and needless to say I was thrilled.
The energy, excitement and support that I was so fortunate to experience in each of these rides was overwhelming. The passion and dedication of each of these riders was clearly a result of all the wonderful coaching and classes they had received from their instructors long before I got there. To teach to a group of riders that are on the path and simply just get it…well it makes teaching an absolute joy. I was welcomed with open arms and hearts and treated like royalty. I was surrounded by people that were prepared to not only work hard on the bike but to be brave enough to come on a journey of exploration and self discovery with somebody they did not even know.
I believe that in my attempt to give to each of these groups I received 100 times over. It was very special for me to be invited to take this charity ride into each of these Spinning® facilities. To be able to present to the students of the instructors that attend sessions at WSSC was also such great fun. To walk into a room of complete strangers that somehow already knew who I was – that was extremely humbling and a little bit weird. As all of us know, to teach, to ride, to present is such a blessing. To then have somebody come to you and say thank you is really the cherry on top.
I would like to thank MDA for allowing me the opportunity to take this charity ride on tour, the host facilities and their wonderful teams at Charleston RIDE, 360 EIM and World Gym and to everybody that looked after me. I have come home happy, inspired, fulfilled and excited about the adventures that are around each corner. I am also extremely keen to take the Ride of Oz Charity Tour to as many other Spinning® facilities and countries as I can. I wish to continue to spread the Spinning® message, experience the worldwide Spinning® community and raise funds for the KIDS Foundation.
Who knows where we will end up next….?
For more photos and stories from the Ride of Oz Tour, the charity and the donation page please visit: