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Published October 13, 2013, 10:00 PM

A positive spin: Fitness instructor boosts bike workout with encouragement, inspiration

FARGO - As the disco ball glitters and videos play on the screen at the front of the room, Imagine Dragon’s “Demons” comes on over the speakers, and Ashley Sornsin hops on her stationary bike.

By: Anna G. Larson, INFORUM

FARGO - As the disco ball glitters and videos play on the screen at the front of the room, Imagine Dragon’s “Demons” comes on over the speakers, and Ashley Sornsin hops on her stationary bike.

“Put on your smiles,” she tells the 12 other people perched on bikes in the spin studio at the YMCA downtown.

The 28-year-old fitness instructor is known for her positive attitude and ability to take the intimidation out of spinning, a popular stationary bike workout.

“I love to smile and encourage people, we all have fun,” Sornsin says. “They keep me going.”

A typical class with Sornsin is just shy of an hour long and includes three- to four-minute drills timed with music, continuous play of inspirational videos and plenty of encouraging words.

Although spin classes have been offered at the YMCA for at least 15 years, they’ve increased in popularity in recent years, says Carol Bjerke, group fitness director for the YMCA.

The YMCA offers 26 classes per week, and spin ranks in its top three group fitness classes.

Bjerke, who teaches zumba and aqua zumba, describes her relationship with spinning as “love-hate.”

“I hate going to class, and I’m feeling happy when I’m done. It always feels so good,” she says.

Having Ashley as an instructor makes it enjoyable, Bjerke says, because she has a way of “making you want to stay even though you want to leave.”

“She has a gleam in her eye. Every time I talk to her I just feel better,” Bjerke says. “It shows in her classes. She’s just dynamite.”

Kim Longtine Marks, who regularly attends Sornsin’s class at the YMCA, uses the term “awesome show” to illustrate the energy level and fun spirit of the class.

“It sounds scary, but it’s fun, and Ashley’s energetic. You don’t realize you get your butt kicked,” she says.

Longtine Marks, 35, started spinning three years ago after she became bored running on a treadmill. The intensity of the workout can scare off some people, Longtine Marks admits, but with the right instructor, she says anyone can learn to spin.

She was drawn to Sornsin’s class because she likes the variety of drills and Sornsin’s talent for encouraging without yelling.

“I don’t like being yelled at,” Longtine Marks says. “Ashley challenges you, but you still do it at your own pace and work up to following experienced members of the class.”

Gregg Trautwein, of Fargo, is one of the more experienced class attendees. He used to run five to six days a week but opts for spinning since it’s easier on his body. The 55-year-old appreciates the mix of music Ashley picks to accompany drills.

“It really helps rhythmically to match up the song to the cadence and tension that you have on the bike for each song,” he says. “Matching a great song to the specific exercises we are doing makes one work so much harder, which in turn makes us burn more calories. And burning calories is pretty much why we all are in the class.”

Exercisers burn 600 to 1,200 calories per spin session, Sornsin says. The heart rate-raising workout engages the core and lower body, although some instructors incorporate upper body moves into routines. Sornsin doesn’t, saying that the moves can be risky.

“Everyone has their own method,” she says. “We have guidelines and then tweak it based on the class.”

The two classes Sornsin teaches are a mix of ages and abilities, with 15 people typically showing up per class. Newcomers will likely be sore from riding the first three to four classes, but she assures that the soreness lessens after that.

Beginners to advanced cyclists find a place in the class since they go at their own levels, Sornsin says.

“I’m there to guide them, and it’s their class,” she says. “Whatever level you need to be at that day is good.”

Sornsin’s spin philosophy encouraged Nichole Snyder to come back after one class. Snyder, 28, was hesitant when she first walked into the studio earlier this year because she doesn’t consider herself to be an athletic person. But, once she learned where the settings are on the bikes, spinning became comfortable and energizing.

Class members helped her ease into the new form of exercise, she says.

“We all share a love for spinning, and this makes it a very supportive motivating environment. You become part of a group, a family in the room that at first seems a bit intimidating,” Snyder says.

All three spin enthusiasts agree that no matter how much effort it takes to get in the spin studio, they always feel rejuvenated walking out.

“After an hour workout you feel like a million bucks,” Snyder says.

Longtine Marks sometimes goes twice a day and calls it an “addicting” form of group exercise.

Sornsin’s positivity is what keeps Trautwein coming back.

“No matter how tough your day has been, it’s always great to go to Ashley’s spin class, just to see her smiling face and receive her positive feedback,” he says. “She just has one of those personalities that makes you smile when you see her and makes you glad you came.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525

Where to spin in Fargo-Moorhead

Courts Plus

3491 S. University Drive, Fargo

What: Multiple spin classes daily except Sundays. Check website for class schedule.

Cost: $7 per class without a membership; membership starts at $48.38/month for an individual.

Contact: (701) 237-4805; www.courtsplus.org

In 2 Shape Fitness Fargo

3501 8th St S., Moorhead

What: A 40-minute spin class in Edge’s Fitness’s facility. Classes are taught by personal trainer Andrew T. Richards. Check website for class schedule and to sign up.

Cost: Punch cards buy class sessions: $35 for 5 classes; $50 for 10 classes; and $60 for 15 classes.

Contact: (612) 743-8432; www.in2shapefitnessfargo.com

Xtreme Measures

1612 Tom Williams Drive, Suite B, Fargo

What: A 45-minute cycling class at the women- only fitness center.

Cost: $10 per class; punch cards are available for $85 for 10 classes. Call for membership information. Free three-day trial passes are also available.

Contact: (701) 293-0002; www.xtrememeasuresnd.com

YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties: Fercho Y

400 1st Ave. S., Fargo

What: Numerous daily spin classes.

Cost: An adult day pass (no YMCA membership) is $14. Five-day adult pass punch cards (no Y membership) are $50.

Adult membership starts at $50/month and includes access to group classes.

Spin classes are also taught at Family Wellness in Fargo.

Contact: (701) 293-9622; http://ymcacassclay.org