Last Saturday, the 4th of July, I woke up very excited and a little nervous to be trying Edinburgh’s first studio and outdoor based, cross-city workout event. This trio of fitness activities (a kind of ‘Urban’ triathlon) would include an hour Vinyasa style yoga class at Meadowlark Yoga, a 5 mile run and a one hour class at LifesCycle® Spinning® Studio. Throw in some goodies from Sweaty Betty and VitaCoco and you have the ingredients for a fun, challenging and rewarding day.
I love yoga and regularly attend classes at LifesCycle® so why was I nervous? Confession: When I read about the Urban Triathlon I got super excited by the thought of combining a Yoga class with a spin class. Then I saw the 10k/5mile run. My 5k attempt at the Santa Run taught me I am not a runner. But, I didn’t want to miss out on this event so I looked at the route and realised that in order to get the 10k, the run didn’t go directly from Meadowlark to LifesCycle®. Instead, the route went through the Meadows, the West End and onto the Water of Leith which leads right to LifesCycle® on Newhaven Road. So, in order to still participate, I decided to do an ‘urban walk’ and take the 2.6 mile direct route, which should get me there at about the same time as the runners taking the longer route. Genius! With my plan hatched, I booked my spot.
I wasn’t the only one to be excited about this inaugural event. The event sold out well in advance. I was happy to be one of the lucky few to get a space; the number of which were limited to the size of the yoga studios (2 rooms were used) and the number of Spinning® bikes available.
Phase 1 – YOGA
I got to Meadowlark Yoga well before the 12:00 start time so that I could get a good spot. Well I wasn’t the only early bird! The growing pile of shoes was a sign that lots of other keen beans had already arrived.
In order to fit the 40ish participants, there were 2 different yoga classes; I got the last spot in the first room led by Paul Nelson, Kirsten Waugh led the other class. There was already a buzz in the room as I squeezed my mat into the last spot. There seemed to be a nice mix of people using the early start to get to know each other. Some were runners, some spin enthusiasts, some yoga regulars, some total ‘newbies’. Paul arrived and we all settled into a warming, flowing yoga class based on his regular classes at Meadowlark, Yoga for Runners, the ideal class to prepare us for Phase 2. I try many different classes and styles of yoga and this one was perfect! Using the basics of a vinyasa/flow yoga class, Paul got us warmed-up; gently increasing our heart rate and circulation while stretching our muscles and ‘greasing’ our joints ahead of the 5-mile run.
Paul offered help and variations that made this class achievable for newbies and challenging for more experienced yogis. Most of the postures were familiar to me and would be for anyone who has been to a few yoga classes, but Paul had his own style and novel ‘twists’ that took this class to the next level. At one point he had us all vigorously patting down our bodies working up our arms, down our legs – even around our head and neck. This controlled ‘slapping’ not only awakened our bodies, the sound of 20 people patting and slapping (maybe a little giggling) awakened our minds and created a sense of ‘togetherness’. We were now a connected group – ready to face the rest of the afternoon as one.
Lying in shivasana at the end of the yoga class, I felt warm from head to toe and totally blissed out. I could stay there all day but there were two more challenges ahead. We all slowly opened our eyes, wiggled our fingers and toes and made our way outside to gather together with group 2, ready for ‘THE RUN’.
Everyone had quite a bit of gear with them. Yoga mats, water bottles, towels, change of clothes and shoes. But we didn’t need to carry this on our back during the run. LifesCycle’s owner, Jeannie Hunter and her helper Marcia, came to Meadowlark to collect our things and transfer them to the studio. They did think of everything!
Phase 2 – 5 mile Run
I decided to delay my ‘walk’ and stick around to hear Paul’s pre-run pep talk.
Just like the yoga class, there were options for everyone. Paul suggested that the experienced runners could either run a little ahead and circle back and forth to the group – giving them an extra workout. Or, they could take a printed map and go on alone. The sense of connectedness that we felt after the yoga class may have had something to do with no one wanting to go on alone – everyone opted to stay together. I was really impressed by this. In fact, the pep talk nearly made me change my mind about walking, but, knowing the affect running has on my joints, I decided to stick to Plan A. As the runners floated off into the meadows I began my slow, direct walk.
I knew I would be slower but having less distance to cover I hoped to arrive at the same time. The runners sent their gear over to LifesCycle® by car but as I wasn’t running I thought I’d carry my bag and yoga mat, adding a little ‘weight training’ to my walk. I didn’t think this was quite enough of a challenge so when I got to Leith Walk I popped into Tattie Shaws. The 5 pounds of fruit and vegetables I ended up buying all added to my ‘power walk’, although the shopping delay and a chance meeting with a friend meant I made it to LifesCycle® with the tail end of the runners.
Phase 3 – Spinning®
Now, I am a regular at LifesCycle® so this was really my motivation for joining in the first place. I knew that Andy ‘The Huntz’ Hunter would put on a dynamic class and that Jeannie would make us all feel safe and welcome. And of course, I was right! There were lots of Spinning® newbies but time was allowed to give everyone a chance to get set up on the bikes and get a brief induction if needed. With 2.5 hours of workouts already under our belts, we were a bit tired but Andy’s energetic yet intuitive delivery combined with motivational sounds and vision couldn’t help but motivate us to work to our best ability while making the time fly by. The room was hot. We were sweating. But Jeannie tirelessly topped up water bottles and Marcia circled the room with platters of fresh fruit allowing us to continue pushing forward.
After many attacks on the flat and several climbs up our own virtual mountains we reached the finish line – together! You see, the best part of this urban triathlon was that it wasn’t a competition. There were many options that allowed us to work at our own levels, without feeling left behind or comparing ourselves to others. We all started together and finished together.
At the end, Jeannie and Andy ‘s enthusiastic congratulations made us all feel like champions.
Our prize: an amazing sense of accomplishment, new friends, and even goodie bags from Sweaty Betty (67 George Street) and free coconut water to rehydrate from VitaCoco – and boy did we need that!
After our epic, ‘triple-challenge’ workout, no-one wanted to leave. Instead we wanted to hold on to our connection a little longer. The hip, eclectic reception area at LifesCycle® was the perfect relaxed setting for the after party, giving us time and space to chill out, enjoy some complimentary nibbles, chat, recap on our efforts and find out what everyone else loved or loathed (from my investigations, I think a few of the other non-runners may be joining me on my walk next time 😀 ).
I even managed to speak to Jeannie about the idea behind the event; she told me:
The initial idea of adapting the triathlon concept to fit it into city facilities came after seeing it in London. We did a bit of research and thought it would work really well in Edinburgh. LifesCycle® and Meadowlark had worked together before and we were both excited about how we could blend our energies and come up with something that really flowed and was fun. It was also important to both organisations that this event was not a competition, just a great way to bring like minded people together to try out new sports. We were delighted with the response; it was sold out within days.
Thanks so much to Meadowlark and LifesCycle® for organising this fantastic day. Even though this was a first – it all ran so smoothly, we were all so well looked after and we all left wanting to do it again! And, a little birdie tells me the next one is coming up sooner than later, so keep an eye on the facebook pages for LifesCycle® and Meadowlark for more details.
Thanks to Jeannie at LifesCycle® for the after party pics!