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Group Fitness Instructor Spotlight: Sophia Crossan

It’s 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday or 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, and you are about to walk into the liveliest, most entertaining group exercise class that Villanova has to offer: student instructor Sophia Crossan’s rhythmic spin class. She is there early, engaging in light-hearted conversation with a few riders and asking if anyone needs help with bike set-up. When class is ready to begin, Crossan shuts off the lights and turns on the colored disco lights that are a staple in any spin class at Villanova. She announces, “This is your ride, your time. You do whatever is best for you and your body today.”

Rhythmic spin is unique from an ordinary spin class because these classes focus on riding to the beat of the music in a normal spin class, the focus is on what each rider is doing on the bike, rather than also incorporating the beat of the song. Crossan’s classes contain a mix of slow, quick and steady songs, and each song has different choreography, in addition to different levels of added resistance on the bike. However, the added choreography and resistance is optional.

“Throughout class, I offer modifications and frequently say ‘If you hate this, just leave it,’” Crossan said. “I try hard to create an environment that is welcoming to everyone, whether they are stepping into their first or 100th class.

“I always try to have a positive, encouraging attitude throughout the entirety of class. I also frequently tell my riders ‘You can, you will,’ and ‘Get out of your head and onto your bike.’”

Sophomore Ella Rieg, a frequent rider in Villanova’s rhythmic spin classes, explained what she enjoys most about class.

“I enjoy spin class because it’s a fun way to get a workout in while listening to good music,” Rieg said. “I like that you only have to do what you are comfortable with and it is a competition with yourself.”

Riders enjoy pushes and crunch-flys, but a signature piece of choreography from Crossan is “All Around the World.” It is Crossan’s “favorite combo” and consists of “a crunch in third, push in second, crunch in first and push in second.”

Natalie Mulvaney, a dedicated member of the rhythmic spin classes, discussed why “All Around the World” is her favorite choreography combo.

“I love it because it is so difficult and allows me to feel that I am getting a good upper body workout in, but also makes class go by faster,” Mulvaney said.

Sophomore Marina Saad, a frequent rider in the rhythmic spin classes, explained what makes Crossan’s spin classes different from other spin classes she has taken.

“I love [Crossan’s] spin classes especially because the vibes are always so positive, and I am able to push myself by getting in a really good workout, all while having fun and listening to good music,” Saad said.

Crossan shared that is is a “hard question” to determine what her favorite spin songs are, but she thinks the most enjoyable are The Hum by Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, 2010s Drake and Lil Wayne (“I’m Goin In,”“A Milli,” “Right Above It,”  “Headlines”), and also said that she likes to use “a lot of Soundcloud remixes.” One of her favorites is Elephant x Black Skinhead.

Crossan’s spin classes are unique in the fact that the second-to-last song played in every class is always a slow “song for you,” and each rider is free to ride however they would like for the entirety of the song, with no instructions given.

“This is something I picked up from the studio I take classes at,” Crossan said. “At first, I didn’t get the point of having a slower song towards the end of class right when I just want to finish and get out of there… but as I took more classes I realized the power that song had. I encourage riders to be present on the bike in every other song, and focus only on the bike, but in the song for you, riders are given the opportunity to reflect on their life outside of the studio.

“Full disclosure, I have cried during this song before. This song presents an opportunity to truly listen to your body and what you need on that specific day.”

If one is intrigued by the prospect of joining a spin class but nervous about their fitness level, Crossan said that there is nothing to worry about.

“There is no standard other than the standard you set for yourself,” Crossan said. “Showing up is the hardest and most important part. My classes are judgment free and welcoming to everyone. I encourage new riders to come and try it out. You can walk in and do none of what I queue, but as long as you challenge yourself, I will be proud of you.

“In my classes it’s you vs. you, always.”

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