Who raised the bar in April?

Alia Mohsen and Sara Brody!

Alia and Sara are a faithful HB duo that motivate one another to #RaiseTheBar each and every day. Good friends and coworkers, the two frequent the HB at least 3-4 times every week and hold each other  accountable with a unique calendar system to log their hours at the HB. Each month, they set goals and rewards through which they both endure, persist, and enjoy the ride. If that isn’t raising the bar, we’re not sure what is. Congrats, ladies! 

Alia, left and Sara, right.

Alia (L) and Sara (R)

Everyone has their own unique fitness journey. What has your experience/journey been like with spinning?

Sara: Prior to discovering The Handle Bar (through Alia’s persistence/nagging/both), I had only been to a few spin classes at gyms. My first time, the instructor chose an NPR folk radio podcast as our soundtrack. I was not amused. Luckily, The Handle Bar’s beat-driven philosophy flipped my first impression of spinning on its head. Now I’m completely hooked to the dance-party-on-a-bike.

Alia: I grew up in the middle of Nowhere, Nebraska – and am embarrassed to admit that I used to drive the three blocks between my apartment and my job when I was in college. Needless to say, I naturally became more active when I moved to Boston and had to rely on walking everywhere. On my walks, I noticed how active the city was – and I wanted to be active, too (translation: wanted to be able to do any type of physical activity without wanting to pass out). I happened upon spinning because I love the heck out of finding a rhythm and my curvy frame has a built-in bike seat cushion.

Tell us a little about the calendar system you have going to keep yourselves accountable 


The duo’s high-tech goal tracking system

Sara: The calendar system came about very early in our spin-addiction. After months of casual invitations to join a class, I turned 25 and realized that I’d really never committed to a single fitness-related goal in my life. A week or so later, I gave in to Alia’s insistence that spin was “so fun” and joined her for a Monday evening class. The next day, I think shocked everyone, mostly myself, and purchased a month unlimited package. The unlimited package urged me to map out a schedule and get into a routine, so Alia (the spin-addiction enabler) developed a calendar system. Each month, we set a goal and a reward. We track our progress on customized calendars that we keep at our desks, as constant reminders that we’ve got work to do. It’s a very high-tech system.

Alia: When we hit our first goal in “Jan-YOU-ary,” we treated ourselves to massages (our hammies were tight after 30 days of non-stop spin). In March, we treated ourselves to an 8-course tapas dinner in the South End and currently, we’re working towards a beach getaway (during the work week) sometime in June.

Sara: Setting achievable goals and raising the bar just a little bit each month has been a great incentive for us. Plus, seeing it written out not only holds us accountable to ourselves, but fuels our competitive spirit because we like to keep up with each other! And the little rewards give us something to strive towards.

Alia: And we both really need tans.

How do you fit fitness into your everyday life?

S&A: The 6am rooster rides make it easy. Once we got over the hump of learning to wake up at 5:20am, we both felt great about getting a workout in before our phones start lighting up with work emails. On Saturdays, early classes give us plenty of time to run errands afterwards and enjoy a full weekend. They also allow for mid-day naps, when necessary.

Why do you ride at The Handle Bar?

Sara: At first, I came because Alia insisted. After I’d taken a class, I came back because of the community. In just a few visits, I’d made friends in “the holding pen,” gotten to know my neighbors on the bike, and learned to admire not only the badass instructors, but the riders who more than hold their own. It’s awesome to be surrounded by so many people who are there to have a good time.

Alia: In the spring of 2012, I began spinning consistently with Elise at another studio in Boston. By the time The Handle Bar opened the following summer, I was hooked on Elise and left my former studio to follow her to THB. But as Sara mentioned, it really is about community. I obviously love rocking out to awesome music for 45 minutes (or 60 or 90 minutes), but I also look forward to catching up with my other THB regulars before class. Even when we are all in a tired stupor at 5:45 am, we all manage to look at each other, giggle and then pump up each other before heading into class. Some of the people I’ve meet through spinning have become my friends outside of the studio – and I definitely didn’t expect that when I started.

What did you do for fitness prior to joining the studio?

Sara: I’ve done my fair share of gym memberships, workouts with trainers, and treadmill intervals, but I’ve always been pretty non-committal about working out. Cycling at The Handle Bar is really the first activity that I do because I love it and not because I feel obligated.

Alia: Fitness really wasn’t in my vocabulary prior to my first class with Elise, so let’s just say this has all been a new experience for me.

What goals has The Handle Bar helped you achieve?

Sara: I’ve committed to exercise for the first time in my life. I’ve also become so much stronger, and not just in my legs. I can feel and see the difference in my arms and my core, too.

Alia: Like Sara, this is the first time I’ve committed to exercise in my life… and it feels so good. Aside from the physical benefits, the classes help my stress melt away and always put me in a better mood.

What’s your favorite way to retox after a long week?

S&A: After a long work week, Friday night drinks are such a nice treat (especially now that it’s warming up outside). We work together in the Financial District, so there’s always a new bar to try or a seasonal drink menu to indulge. We recently tried Bostonia, a new bar/restaurant down the street from our office. They have live music, good eats and Roaring 20’s drinks that are SO good. Check it out!

Do you have a favorite class at The Handle Bar?

Sara: Friday morning Rooster Rides with Elise help me get through that last push to the weekend. It’s gotten to the point that I’ll plan weekend travel around whether or not I can make it to that class.

Alia: I also love the Friday #RoosterRide, but Saturday morning spin with Elise has been a constant of mine for over 2 years – and it feels like a core part of my life now. I love that I consistently start my weekend by doing something good for myself (and I know the shenanigans that may follow were well-deserved).

What is your favorite music to spin to?

Sara: I’m hoping Stompa by Serena Ryder will make a surprise re-appearance in Elise’s class. The ab sequence was a killer, but it was so satisfying to get through the whole song and watch the whole class get better and better each time. Boy band rides are also amazing. There’s no way to not have fun during a 45 minute blast-from-the past. I still reminisce about TRL’s glory days.

Alia: I’m such a sucker for a good climb, and anything that has an inspirational feel is my ultimate jam (such as “Free” by Rudimental feat. Emeli Sandé). If we’ve been climbing for a few songs in a row, it feels amazing to stand up during the final minutes and give it my all. Especially if a heartfelt, powerful song is playing in the background… sometimes it makes me feel like my life is a movie and this is where my character overcomes some amazing triumph. Corny, I know, but it always feels so satisfying.

What motivates you?

Sara: Feeling stronger and healthier, but really, Alia motivates me. I know I have to get out of bed because she’s expecting me to get my butt to class. She pedals fast, so I pedal faster to keep up. And she manages our calendar system, so I know when I’m slacking, because she reminds me. J

Alia: Shucks, Sara. But she’s right, we really motivate each other. Knowing she’s there to support and encourage me on days that I’m struggling to do it for myself is truly a gift. I think the ability to lean on each other in this way has actually strengthened our friendship in other ways. It’s also unbelievably satisfying to pick new goals (and cross them off) on our calendar. Not to mention, massages/beach days/restaurant outings are highly motivating, too.

What words do you live by?

Sara: “Celebrate we will, cause life is short but sweet for certain.” – Dave Matthews / My AIM profile circa 2003.

Alia: “Everything happens for a reason.” I’m not sure who said it first, but I’ve been reminding myself of this for many years.

Sara and Alia’s story exemplifies exactly how working out with friends helps you stay on track and reach your goals – and your rewards. Next time you come in for a ride, bring that one hesitant friend and let the beat work the magic! Who knows, you might end up with a rival goal setting system 🙂

One thought on “Who raised the bar in April?

  1. Pingback: We all love a challenge – Your guide to 2014 summer fitness challenges | RAISING THE BAR

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