Four sisters get spin class studio rolling

01/31/2013 12:00 AM

01/31/2013 12:03 AM

One by one, the spin class participants file into the room and choose a bike, clicking their cycling shoes and cleats into the pedals and focusing their attention straight ahead.

In a matter of seconds, the music comes up, the lights go down and everyone seems to know this is going to be intense.

Instructor Elise Winbrock, a former collegiate soccer player who turned to cycling to rehab an injured knee, begins to shout instructions and encouragement, her feet spinning in a constant blur.

That's the way it will be for the next 45 minutes. Lots of music, heavy breathing, plenty of sweat, a little bit of laughter, and pedals that turn at around 100 revolutions per minute.

But this class looks and feels different than the spin routines that swept through gyms in the 1990s and early 2000s. For one thing, Winbrock sometimes does mini-pushups on the handlebars without slowing her pedaling. She grabs small dumbbells and works her biceps. And on several occasions, she leads the group in what looks like a cross between cycling and dance – everyone bobbing and dipping, standing or sitting, in rhythm to the up-tempo music.

With its stylish color scheme and well- appointed storefront on H Street in east Sacramento, TEAMride is a newcomer on the local physical fitness scene with an unusual business model for the Sacramento market – a fitness center devoted entirely to spin classes on stationary bikes.

The four owners banking on its success are sisters, ranging in age from 24 to 31. Their first initials spell out T-E-A-M.

TEAMride opened Dec. 29, just in time for the flurry of New Year's resolutions. Though the all-spin, all-the-time concept is new to Sacramento, the sisters say such bike-centric fitness centers are all the rage in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major markets. They also say their method, which includes emphasis on upper-body exercises while pedaling, sets them apart from traditional spin classes.

While indoor cycling is an easier sell in the dark and frosty mornings of winter, what will happen come April and balmy spring weather?

"Gyms don't go out of business. Yoga studios don't go out of business when it's nice outside," said co-owner Teresa Katnik Santarosa, who gave birth to her third son just over three months ago. "By the time the good weather is here, we hope we will have a dedicated following and people know they are getting something here that they won't get outside."

The sisters are working hard at building that following. Each first-time participant receives a handwritten thank-you note in the mail, along with discount offers for future classes. TEAMride also seeks to be environmentally responsible, buying its electricity via wind or solar sources as part of SMUD's "Green Power Partner" program.

One of the intangibles on display for all to see is the power of sisterhood. During a recent interview at the facility, the four women, who were born and raised in Sacramento and who all earned college degrees, showed an uncanny ability to get along. They say they disagree on occasion, but they also get over their squabbles in a hurry.

Michelle and Elena Katnik, both single, are working at TEAMride full time. Teresa is a stay-at-home mom who devotes part of her day to the business. Alicia Katnik-Canney, a mother of two, lives in Boulder, Colo., for the time being while her husband completes his doctoral studies in engineering education, but she keeps close tabs on developments.

The sisters say they have wanted to go into business together for years, and settled on the spin-class concept about a year ago. Never far away is the memory of their father, Andrew Katnik, a Sacramento anesthesiologist, who died of cancer in 2005 at age 50.

When the sisters launched the business plan, Michelle left a fast-paced corporate job in New York City and a Greenwich Village apartment to join her sisters in the venture. Elena, who recently earned a psychology degree from the University of Southern California, became a certified spin instructor in anticipation of going into business with her sisters.

The sisters appear to have overlapping skill sets and complementary personalities, ranging from laid back to intense.

"Elena says I hold her accountable because I like structure and I bring a sense of urgency. I say I want to be the best," said Michelle. "But she helps calm me down. She'll say, 'Michelle, we are a family-owned business. We're not a multibillion dollar corporation. It's going to be OK.' She's totally my balance. And we happen to be best friends, so that helps."

The emphasis in the spin room is on intensity and efficiency, too – you're in and out in 45 minutes, and to do that means taking advantage of high-intensity intervals and active recovery – going really in hard in spots, then catching your breath while continuing to ride.

Though TEAMride is less than a mile from the 32-mile-long American River bike trail, the sisters say their workouts differ from standard outdoor road bike riding by emphasizing upper-body fitness as well as the various movements done in sync with the music.

The sisters drew up their workout strategy months ago, hired instructors through ads on Craigslist and honed routines at their mother's home, lining up a dozen spin bikes in her family room and working out the details in real time.

"I was the naysayer," mother Ana Katnik said with a laugh. "I tried to talk them out of it. But they had such a momentum going. It was like a snowball effect. There was nothing I could do to stop it, and I knew I was not going to be able to talk them out of it."

On a recent morning, mom was one of the class participants, marveling at the aerobic challenge at the end of class.

"It's just a different type of workout," said Elena Katnik. "It's all about the heart rate. A lot of people you see on the bike trail are not reaching the heart rate they need to target."


Get moving

The TEAMride indoor cycling center doesn't have the membership dues of a typical gym. It operates on a payment model common with yoga studios, where students pay each time they participate. TEAMride charges $18 per class, and discounts are available for multiclass packages.

Where: 5535 H St., Sacramento

Information: (916) 455-7000; team-ride.com

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