RITUALS | Part Six: Shawn Ayers
Anyone who has ever been fortunate enough to partake in one of Shawn Ayers' spin classes will know that the energy he brings to the room is infectious to say the least. I've thrown my unfit self into a few, and although my coordination is that of a three-year old, I felt great (albeit very sweaty) afterwards. With his encouraging words and contagious spirit, he commands the room, while allowing the riders to escape with his supercharged, electro-house meets Beyoncé-heavy playlists.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Shawn has become a leader in the fitness community and is on a mission to inspire change. When he's not coaching as senior instructor at Spin Society, he jumps on every opportunity to soak in the West Coast's reputable outdoor lifestyle. I recently asked Shawn how he disciplines himself, what rituals he's acquired and how he manages to bring so much vigour and good vibes to each and every class.
You just finished a 21-day challenge to get up early. What inspired you to do it?
“I had been wanting to shake things up in my life after a challenging 2016. I came across the 21 Damn Early Days challenge through an awesome community in Vancouver called Chasing Sunrise. The concept behind it is to create a space for yourself to commit to your own goals for 21 days in the early morning hours. There's a wake up time of 4:30am *cringe* that comes with a check-in option to keep track of the progress, along with tools to support the journey.”
What was the most challenging part?
“I have NEVER been a natural morning person so getting up that early was hostile and 100% the most challenging part for me. In my twenties, I fostered the incredible skill set of being a habitual night owl. I used to work really well in these late night hours, but now I love the idea of getting up early and having quiet time to make breakfast and even go to the gym before work. As a spin instructor, I often remind my riders that 'on the other side of challenge is change'. So taking my own advice I decided to partner up with Chasing Sunrise to create two very early morning spin classes for the 21 DED community. I was amazed at how many people came to sweat for 50 minutes at 5:00am! The commitment was inspiring and moments like this really motivated me to keep going."
Were you able to successfully do every single day of the challenge?
“I'll admit, I did not wake up every single day at 4:30am, although the point of the challenge is to create more space to do the things that matter to you most, inspire change and make time to work towards personal goals. The process, albeit hard, was very successful and rewarding.”
Do you have any other morning rituals that help you be productive?
“I try to do 20 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning. Coming back to my daily practice in the challenge was helpful in finding focus, and it’s a great way to start my day. After I wake up, I light my Woodlot candle and saddle up on the couch before the hustle of the day is audible and just be still.”
What tools or tricks have helped you get the most out of your day?
“I’ve started prioritizing things in my life differently. I've changed simple habits like unplugging from my phone at 9:00pm and winding down for bed by 9:30pm to ensure I get the maximum amount of sleep. One '’pro-tip’ is buying an alarm clock and leaving my phone in a different room while I sleep. This has helped, and also avoids the dreaded social media black hole we often find ourselves in before falling asleep and also when waking up!”
What is something you can’t live without in the morning?
“Coffee! Growing up in Vancouver with a huge coffee culture, I’ve been a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur for years and I love it. I used to drink four to five coffees a day, however I have scaled it back recently and try to have one or two in the morning. During the challenge I started to make Bulletproof Coffee, which I find gives me cleaner and longer energy as well. I would rather enjoy coffee when I want it and not depend on it to fuel my life. Instead I look for healthy food options to find natural fuel, a green juice or a Body Energy Club smoothie. Real life does set in from time to time, and we do what we need to get by, and that's okay too.”
Are there any habits you’re trying to change or improve on?
“I’m trying to turn off Netflix earlier most nights and instead pick up a good book to help wind down - I mean this is very challenging with the supply of stellar programming (read: Stranger Things, OA, The Crown and of course Cosmos). Fitness is a huge part of my life and I spin a lot, coaching at both the downtown and North Vancouver studios - so l try to listen to my body when I need a day off from the gym, and Epsom baths are on the daily.”
“I think it's so easy to get caught up in our daily routines, we often lose track of what we truly want or don't make time for the things that are most important. So I am continuing to review my choices daily and ask myself if they support my goals and are aligned with the things I want in my life. I think it's a continual process of self-improvement and betterment that will always exist.”
What’s one of the aspects you love most about your job?
“I love the ability to connect with people and the genuine community we have created at Spin Society. I've witnessed so much growth and positive change in our regular riders. It's really about self-care and the art of living well that is inspiring me these days and I try to speak to that in my classes. It's the ultimate rush and escape to share 50 minutes of intense sweat in the dark with a group of like-minded people. I think the take away from the 21 DED challenge reminded me that when we put our minds to something that anything is truly achievable, but you need to be focused, committed and also have the courage to change.”
To learn more about Spin Society or sign up for one of Shawn's classes, visit their website or follow Spin Society (@spinsociety) and Shawn (@shawn_ayers) on Instagram.
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