Last week we officially began our “Fitness For Spirit” series.
Today we highlight bike enthusiast, Kandice Shelton. She once weighed over 200 lbs at just 5’3 tall. Today she is a certified fitness instructor and wellness coach dedicated to helping women reach their personal health and fitness goals. Kandice is an avid cyclist and the founder of the Atlanta chapter of Black Girls Do Bike. Learn more about Kandice here.
We spoke to Kandice about her love for biking and how it is one of the many activities that helps her get fit and clear her mind in the process.
Tell us a bit about you.
I’m originally from Louisville Kentucky, but I left the bluegrass state to become a Georgia Peach over 20 years ago. I’ve been living in and loving Atlanta ever since. Although my professional background and education is in Marketing, my passion is health and fitness, which is now my full time career. This passion was birthed after I went though a 60- pound weight loss journey.
As a certified fitness instructor and wellness coach, people have a hard time believing that, at 5’3, I was once over 200 pounds. I was well in the overweight category when the perfect storm of seemingly innocent and unrelated things occurred in my world and, that was when I made the decision to finally lose the weight permanently and live a healthy life.
When did you begin bike riding?
My journey in cycling had a slow and kind of bumpy start. I first purchased a mountain bike, from a discount super store, not knowing that there were different types of bikes that may have been better for me. I literally rode it once, then it became a permanent fixture in my garage. A couple of years later, I purchase a road bike with the intent to use it as a form of exercise during my weight loss journey. I not only purchased the bike, but the helmet, bike bag, cycling shoes, campus pedals, and every other gadget needed to be successful in cycling. But again, my bike collected dust in my garage. Fast forward 3 years, something nudged me to dust off my bike and give cycling another shot. It was then that my love relationship with cycling and Baby Girl (my bike) started to bloom and we’ve been in love ever since.
What sorts of accomplishments of your made as a cyclist?
In addition to being the local SHERO, creator and organizer of the BGDB Atlanta chapter, the last 18 months have included completing the GA 400 Century (100 miles), Calloway Gardens Duathlon, Atlanta Tour de Cure and countless miles on various roads and trails in the Southeast. I frequently ride the Silver Comet Trail, which begins in a suburb of Atlanta and extends into Aniston Alabama. These 94 miles were previously an abandoned railroad train route that was converted into a fully paved trail, perfect for cycling.
Depending on the time of year, I cycle two to three times a week. During the peak of summer and winter, I tend to transition to my indoor cycling trainer or indoor spin classes. But nothing beats rolling outside with your bike–nothing beats that! Currently, with my schedule, my goal is to cycle 60-80 miles per week.
I believe a huge misconception about cycling in the black community is that it exists. Many people don’t realize that there are organized cycling clubs within the black community.
When did you realize biking would be your activity of choice for living a healthy lifestyle?
At one point in my life, I claimed the title of “runner”, but during my last half marathon, I injured my knee and decided to invest more time and energy in a lower impact form of exercise. Cycling burns tons of calories and builds muscle, but many times can be less stressful on the body than other forms of exercise. When I realized this, I realized that cycling was in my life to stay.
Describe how you feel when you’re biking?
Three simple words to describe my feeling when I’m riding are: Power, Freedom and Strength!
What are the ways biking could put a person in tune with their deeper self?
I love music. It drives me in many elements of my life. But only on a rare occasion will I listen to music when I cycle 99% of the time, I’m “naked,” as it’s called. I chose to listen to nature, my environment and take the opportunity to pray and meditate as I am cycling. Many times, I hear people make the comment “I can’t cycle without music”, but I’ve found that I get so lost in my thoughts, prayers and daydreams and don’t even miss the music. On an average ride of 25 miles, I have fantastic “me” time to connect with my thoughts, strengthen my spiritual connection and clear my mind, all without music.
What are some of the misconceptions about biking?
I believe a huge misconception about cycling in the black community is that it exists. Many people don’t realize that there are organized cycling clubs within the black community. Atlanta tends to have a large population of cyclists, but we exist in all cities.
Another big misconception is that cycling is not a good form of exercise. Cycling is a great cardio endurance exercise that also does wonders for building core and leg muscles. Try cycling 100 miles in one day (a century ride) and then tell me it’s not a good form of exercise.
Lots of people fall off the wagon when it comes to fitness. What are your thoughts on the idea of making your fitness regimen part of one’s spiritual life in order to stay focused?
I agree, as a fitness instructor and wellness coach, I certainly see people fall of the wagon when it comes to fitness plans. In my opinion the key to keeping consistent with a plan is to find something you love to do, so that it doesn’t seem like “exercise”. While, yes, there is physical effort involved, because you enjoy the workout, it doesn’t seem like work as much. Once you find your soul mate workout, this promotes within yourself a stronger connection to your spiritual side in so many ways including: having better life balance, ability to focus and have a clear mind, physical, emotional and mental strength as well as stronger connections to nature, others and self.