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What I'm "Doing" This Summer

The “Summer” issue of Tonic always feels like the end of the year for me; kind of like school to a kid. My work is finished by the end of June and I don’t really start work on the next issue (September) until August. Except for driving my kids around to their programs, or friends, I’ve got downtime in July, which is a problem for me, because I don’t do “relaxing” very well at all. I feel guilty for having idle time.

I’m sure there are things I could do around the house. My disaster of a backyard still beckons for a landscaping renovation -like I gave the front yard last year. But it’s a very big job. Instead I’ve decided to improve myself - which is, perhaps, an even bigger job.

I’m taking an indoor cycling teacher’s program, so that I’m qualified to be a spinning instructor.

I love to spin. Other than running, which I loathe when I’m doing it, but feel amazing after, it’s the only form of exercise that I’ve ever kept up with. And I’m good at it. (Yes, you can be good at riding a stationary bike - I’ve got strength, stamina, speed, pacing, excellent form and decent middle-age-white-guy rhythm.)

The qualifications for entering the course are the ability to pedal a bike, decent hygiene, no discernable mental illness and a cheque. So, not a high bar. The qualifications to actually teach a spinning class are much tougher. You need to engage people. Inspire them to want to work hard. You need to be a good communicator and have a sense of musicality (because if your music sucks, your class sucks). Knowing how to do something is different than leading others to do it.

It’s been a long time since I’ve led any kind of class. As a teenager I used to teach younger kids how to sail. While I was technically proficient and a good communicator, I came to realize that the key to teaching or leading an activity is to create the right atmosphere. Which is  pretty much the same formula as publishing a health and wellness magazine - to make the experience entertaining. Of course, one man’s fun is another man’s incredibly-hard-crazy-ass-workout. Stay tuned, loyal Tonic readers. I’ll let you know when I’m ready for you all to take my class.

If you’re considering taking up a new challenge, but not sure where to start, I suggest reading Rod MacDonald’s article on mid-year resolutions (p.40). Lisa Cantkier has some thoughts on gluten-free grilling (p. 31). Carlyle Jansen explains why worrying about the comparative frequency of your intimacy is counter-productive (p.28). Joy McCarthy has some great ideas for healthy picnicking (p. 33). As always if you want to discuss Tonic, please feel free to contact me at Jamie@tonictoronto.com