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Life’s a Trip. Enjoy the Ride.

A friend of mine who writes a great blog about leadership, management, people and other awesome things published a post this morning called “The Joy in Leading.”  She profiles her sister, one of the co-founders of Joyride (a well-known cycling studio on the East Coast), who shares her wisdom about lots of things — the role of exercise in our lives, finding your passion, doing meaningful work, and leading people.  I loved the interview so much that I asked Chantal if I could re-post it here.  Enjoy…and if nothing else, take the Joyride slogan to heart today: “Life’s a Trip.  Enjoy the Ride.”

joyride-logo

Q: To some, JoyRide might seem like just a cycling studio. But, I know it’s that and more to you. Can you explain?

A: “I believe that exercise affects everything. The way we look, how we feel, our energy, mood, and confidence. Some people say that it’s ‘just spinning or exercise,’ but I strongly believe that taking exercise seriously and dedicating yourself to it can positively affect other areas of your life.

“In classes, we talk a lot about getting out of your comfort zone. We talk about how staying in the status quo means we won’t develop and grow. So, we create intense challenges in class and are helping people to train themselves to push through and endure. As they get better and get stronger, they build their faith and confidence in themselves. People get hooked.

“Our tag line at JoyRide is “Life’s a trip, enjoy the ride.” We’re constantly reinforcing to our riders that it’s the journey, not the destination. We help people set goals, achieve goals, and set new goals. We help them dream bigger as they keep growing and evolving.”

Q: If you reflect back on your personal path, where did your conviction in JoyRide’s vision come from?

A: “My conviction comes from my own experience. I started spinning over 15 years ago in California. I loved the intensity and I could see myself getting stronger. I loved the team feel, the music, the endorphins, the discipline of pushing through. We live in a fast-paced society where we have to respond quickly to everything. Over the years, spinning has allowed me to be in the moment. It’s therapeutic. It’s my time. I personally know spinning can be very powerful.

“And, over the past 10 years of teaching, and in particular at JoyRide, I’ve seen how creating a place where people feel welcome and can be themselves and take risks can be a really positive and life changing experience. One rider’s mother passed away recently. For her, coming to JoyRide to take classes was amazing therapy. It provided a way to relieve stress, clear her mind, and get stronger. It was an integral part of both the mourning and healing process. Countless riders have felt emboldened, through JoyRide, to try things they were previously afraid to try – from switching jobs to starting a small business. We spend so much time telling people they CAN do it, eventually they do.

“I think another really important part of our vision is that we’re welcoming to all. We never wanted it to be exclusive. Our oldest rider is 78 years old and she comes six days a week. We love that.

“When I think about why that inclusivity is so important, on the one hand, it’s because my partners and I want to share our passion and cast the net as far as we can to reach the widest audience – from a triathlete to the person who hasn’t worked out since high school. I think it’s also related to how you and I grew up, though, too. We moved around and went to lots of schools, we were the outsiders living abroad in London in a really transient, expatriate environment. Our parents had a real variety of friends from different countries and backgrounds. Because of that, in high school and college, I never wanted to be part of one clique, I didn’t like the restriction of exclusivity. So, growing up how we did, it’s meant that I need diversity of people in my life. JoyRide provides that”

Q: What makes you really good at what you do?

A: “The quick answer is that I love it and believe in it.

“I think it’s also because I view teaching as very much an evolution and a journey. I’m never done. I’m constantly trying to find new angles and ways to get a similar and positive message across to riders. My job is to motivate and inspire people. If I’m not constantly challenging myself to do this, things become routine. I have to keep it fresh so I look everywhere for ideas – from inspirational quotes to Buddhist philosophy or anecdotes from my own life.

“I’ve also always been passionate about music and music is such an important part of the spinning experience. Music is a motivator for physical exertion. It’s why we dance to music – we’re moved. In a group class, it synchronizes the class together so you’re not a single person training, you’re riding as a group. Music triggers positive memories – like the Journey song that reminds you of high school prom – it creates happiness or a connection to something in your life. I create playlists that are diverse (appealing to the teenager and the 78-year-old client) and help people come together and create a connection.”

Q: Does your conviction or confidence ever waver?

A: “Of course! That’s human. I think competition contributes to my conviction and confidence wavering at times. There are other people who do what I do and while I have confidence in my own skills and abilities, there are always people better than me. But, overall, competition is a good thing. It pushes me to the next level and prevents me from ever getting complacent. It makes me “walk the walk” and do what I encourage riders to do – always push through, evolve, and get better at what I do.

“There are two quotes that are key for me when I’m low on inspiration or wavering. One is something like: “For success – attitude and effort are equally as important as skill.” I might not be the most skillful or athletic. I don’t run marathons, I don’t do triathlons. I may not even be the strongest rider in the room. But, my attitude is always positive and I push myself on the bike and in running the business part of JoyRide. I put the effort in. The other quote is by Vince Lombardi: “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” We’re all going to fall down and face adversity. It’s part of life. What matters is how we overcome it and that we come out stronger.”

Q: Do you think you’re a “leader”? How come?

A: “Yes. But that sounds pompous! But, in my circumstance, yes. I think I am because of the risks I (and my partners) took to open a studio and the position I have (hire and train all instructors, create the JoyRide manual, etc). If you’re training people to do something, you’re leading them along a path. Leaders by nature are teachers, they have something to share. It’s not about “teaching you to do it my way,” it’s about teaching you to do it in a way that leverages your gifts and talents, it’s about untapping your magic or potential that gets riders to connect with you.

“I remember a year into JoyRide, I heard someone refer to me as “a total guru” and I laughed at it. It was this funny moment when I realized that people perceive me in a light I didn’t expect – as a total expert. The reality is though that anyone who is an expert started as a beginner. I remember one person came to class not too long ago and said “you’re such a natural.” I was tempted to nod and say thank you, but I didn’t. I said, “No, I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I get on the bike every day. I put in the work” The reality is, anyone who is exceptional works really hard at it. They might be gifted, but they work really hard.”

Q: What nuggets of wisdom do you have for people trying to figure out how to identify their sense of purpose?

A: “Find your passion. Figure out what you wake up in the morning excited to do. Your purpose is linked to finding what inspires you coupled with your strengths. Find that. Then, go for it.”

This interview originally appeared on http://www.chantalsmesshall.com on August 21, 2013.

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