City councilor has passion for cycling


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Strolling down the halls and singing ballads to his colleagues is a normal practice for Ross Wilburn while at the office.

But a quirk some of his coworkers may not know is that aside from being the former mayor of Iowa City, a city councilor and mayor pro-tem, and the equity director for the Iowa City School District, he spends his free time as a spin-class instructor.

After cycling outdoors for the past 15 years, Wilburn decided it was time to take his passion indoors.
“One day I picked up a bike, started riding, and I haven’t looked back since,” he said.

When Core Fitness — located in Iowa City and North Liberty — was in need of instructors, he didn’t hesitate. He went to a two-day training program to become certified to teach.

He started teaching the RPM program with a team, but in October, he will send a video of himself teaching a class alone for further certification.

Wilburn, who participates in RAGBRAI, said cycling is a great way to stay in shape. But it’s become more than just a workout in his daily life.

“Cycling is a great stress reliever, it gets you strong, and it increases your metabolism,” he said.

Every Friday night and Sunday morning, a group of several regular cyclists take Wilburn’s spin class, and there are usually four or five newcomers as well.

Rozy Warder recently took her first spin class with Wilburn. She has known him ever since she moved to the School District.

She said Wilburn made her transition into the community and his spin class a positive experience.

“Ross came early and assisted me in selecting a bike and adjusting the seat height to fit my stature,” Warder said. “He also cued me on the particular spin verbage. There is a spin language, and he made sure I knew what was meant by terms like the ‘racing position.’”

Familiarizing new students with the language and set up of the class is very important to Wilburn.
“When someone is new I find out a little about them so I can help them maximize their workout,” Wilburn said. “You just want to make them feel comfortable during their riding experience.”

During each 45-minute class, nine different songs accompany the ride. As the music changes, Wilburn provides the students with different cues in order to stay on top of their workout.

“I tell them the amount of resistance to have, when to ride on the beat of the music, or whether it’s a power climb,” he said. “Coaching them on how much push, pedal speed, and what position they should be in is the main focus.”

Making a personal connection with his cyclists is something he strives for. Rick Spear, a fellow cycling instructor, has known Wilburn for about 20 years.

“I know how much [Wilburn] enjoys meeting new people and engaging them in conversation,” Spear said. “This is what makes him a good instructor and a valuable asset to this community. He is engaged and involved whether he is [wearing] a tie or in lycra [spandex].”

As long as Wilburn is a member of Core Fitness, he said, he plans on teaching spin classes.

“The cycling community is like a team,” he said. “Everyone is working toward the same goal and supporting each other. It makes working out fun.”

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