RIDE OR DIE | James Knipe, Instructor

ride cycle club

Meet James – a Vancouver Instructor who owns themed RIDES and curates playlists that make you want to dance (and let’s be honest, sing). Always blending fun and intensity, James’ class offer 50 minutes of freedom to be your truest self – honouring whatever you’re feeling that day.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Cranbrook, BC – small town boy.

Can you remember your first RIDE class?

Yes, I remember we did a team sweat at lululemon and we did a class with Julie Chutter. I specifically remember how mesmerizing Julie’s voice was (if you’re reading this then I’m sure you know) and how powerful she was up on the bike. I had been teaching at a previous studio and I remember taking her class and leaving feeling super inspired to switch up my own teaching style. I went back the next day.

How long did it take until you realized you wanted to become an Instructor?

I had been spinning for about a year before realizing it was time to get up there myself. I had loved the workout so much so naturally I thought it’d be easy to get up there (and later learned it’s completely different). I toyed with the idea for a couple of months until there were open auditions and I decided to go for it. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Describe your teaching style.

You know when you go to a concert and there’s that half hour before the artist takes the stage and you feel the anticipation, the energy from everyone in the room and then suddenly the lights drop and the music starts? This is what I want my class to feel like. I want to provide an experience where it feels like you’re at your favourite concert or show. Every detail from the music that plays before class to carefully selecting how each song transitions from one to the next. There’s no better feeling than losing yourself in the music at a concert, and this is the type of experience I want to give my Riders. It’s 50 minutes where you get to let go of your day, to get out of your head and to have some fucking fun. That’s my ultimate goal as an Instructor.

Best part of being an Instructor is…

Without a doubt the best part about being an Instructor is seeing how you can really change someone’s life. That sounds cheesy and like bullshit right? But it’s the honest truth. To be a part of that magic, that change for them, is very rewarding. If I can have just one Rider come up to me each week and tell me that their day just got a little better from taking my class, then that makes it all worth it. I wouldn’t be anything without my Riders and fellow Instructors, they’ve taught me so much and have inspired me to become a better Instructor every time I step onto that podium.

Track you’ve had on repeat?

Tempo by Lizzo – oh man. She’s everything to me right now.

AM or PM RIDES?

AM for sure – although they are such a struggle for me to get out of bed for, I always know I’ll feel so much better for my day if I just get on that bike.

Favourite way to sweat outside of RIDE?

Running for sure – whenever I’m feeling slightly anxious, or in a bad mood, I know that a run will fix it immediately.

How has becoming a RIDE Instructor changed you?

Becoming a RIDE Instructor has changed me in the sense that it’s made me realize who I am when I’m at my best. The feeling I have when I’m on the bike, the feeling I have when I leave the studio – that’s who I want to be in every minute of my life. It’s when I love myself the most. To me that’s such an invaluable lesson and I’m grateful for it every day.

Go-to quote or words to live by?

Never a failure. Always a lesson.

Who motivates you?

This fitness community. I’ve worked as an Instructor in various studios for almost 3 years now and to see all of the different types of people that walk in week in and week out who are there to better themselves – that’s what pushes me – to be better for them.

Favourite book?

‘Never Use Futura’ – if you ever want to geek out on fonts, you know where to find me.

What’s your #1 life hack?

Paying your bills as soon as you get them.

Where can we find you on a Saturday afternoon in the city?

If it’s sunny, the beach. If it’s rainy, most likely a brewery.

Any hidden or not so hidden talents?

I can retrieve the top shelf cereal from any store.

If you could brunch with any person (past or present), who would it be and why?

I want to get day drunk with Rihanna so bad. If you know me, you know she’s my number 1 and to have her apply some Fenty Highlight to my cheek bones during brunch would be the ultimate.

Best memory since you joined RIDE?

This past May, I taught a Rihanna themed class – which if you read my previous answer then you can imagine how excited I was for this theme. The energy in the room that night was unlike any class I had ever taught or even taken. Everyone was singing during their favourite songs, and it truly felt like we could have been at a Rihanna concert. I left with a full heart, and in that moment I remember thinking “You love this. You’re great at this. Keep going”.

#1 piece of advice for someone looking to have a killer RIDE?

Go in with zero expectations. Be prepared to let go of everything you thought spin was. Be prepared to learn something new not only about your body but also your mind. Once you’re out of your head, you let the music and the energy be your guide and before you know it, it’s over and you’ll want to jump right back in that room. Oh – and scream if you want to! I know it can feel weird at first but it feels so good to let it out.

What has you stoked on life right now?

I know this whole thing has been about my experience at RIDE – but right now RIDE is what has me stoked on life! I finally feel like I’m getting to a great spot with my classes and feeling so comfortable up there. I’m stoked to have this opportunity to teach every single week and will be forever grateful for this experience, even if it ended tomorrow.

RIDE with James – find him on the Kitsilano and Hamilton Schedule.