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Inspire Fitness, spin, Gabe Rios, Birmingham

I reached out to my buddy Gabe, an all-around great guy with boundless amounts of energy, a few weeks ago to help me get started on my cross training journey. Gabe is one of the owners of Inspire Fitness, a new spin/yoga/strength training studio in Birmingham that has a nice, laid-back feel to it (read: no gym rats).

Inspire Fitness, spin, Gabe Rios, Birmingham

The concept of Inspire is great—the classes are small and extremely personalized and all of the instructors truly want to help you improve, so it feels more like personal training. I also loved the layout and decor of the studio—very industrial, a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city, and two flat screen TVs that either play music videos or different cycling routes.

Inspire Fitness, spin, Gabe Rios, Birmingham

No training wheels?

I had taken a spin class with Gabe once before at the YMCA, so I kind of knew what to expect. Spin is a great workout for anyone because you can control the level of difficulty. Gabe would explain the upcoming sequence and then add “if you’re comfortable,” reminding everyone in the class to go at their own pace. It’s also a killer workout on your quads and hamstrings, which is just what I need!

Inspire Fitness, spin, Gabe Rios, Birmingham

Best spin instructor ever

I watched in amusement as Gabe grooved and sang to the music without looking winded or losing his place in the sequence. It was all I could do to keep from falling off and I had the handlebars in a deathgrip at times—a big no-no. I’m still wobbly when starting out and when doing “jumps” (can you be wobbly on a stationary bike?) but after the first few minutes I got the hang of it again. Kind of.

Inspire Fitness, spin, Gabe Rios, Birmingham

I loved my experience! I was tired, but not overwhelmingly so, which means that I can increase my resistance next time. I’m going back tomorrow for another class with Gabe as well as a Functional Fitness class, which coupled with my 8-mile run in the morning should make me sleep well!

Saigon Noodle House, pho

Tell me your mouth isn’t watering right now

The next day I caught up with Gabe for some mouthwatering Vietnamese at Saigon Noodle House, a restaurant that I had been eyeing since we moved to Birmingham. I’m not sure why I don’t eat Vietnamese more often, because my lunch consisted of some of my favorite things—noodles, tofu, lettuce, veggies, and curry sauce. I digress.

Over lunch we chatted about his love of fitness and how he found spin. When Gabe lived in Texas he was heavier, had a stressful job, and a family history of diabetes that he wanted to avoid. A friend introduced him to step classes and then spin, and he got hooked.

When Gabe moved to Birmingham he continued with spin classes at the YMCA but wasn’t a fan of the music. He instead got a Les Mills certification (quite a time-intensive process) and began teaching kickboxing.

When Gabe realized that he could teach spin and play his own music, he got a Spin certification. And let me tell you, his music kicks ass! He used to be a DJ in college and loves mixing old and new music. Sometimes he finds an “anchor song” and builds an entire class around it. Here’s a perfect example of his good sense of taste—the first song of the class included Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” Jackpot!

Gabe and his friends developed Inspire as an accessible place to take both group exercise classes and personalized training. They want to help people live a healthy lifestyle, and it shows in their enthusiasm and the fun nature of the classes. I highly recommend that you check out Inspire!