A self-proclaimed global nomad, Cori Parks is originally from San Diego, California, where she first developed her cycling legs and a curiosity for distance riding along the Pacific coast. Her deep appreciation of cross-cultural communication led her to study American Sign Language Interpreting at Brock University in Ontario, Canada. There, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and Sociology. After graduating, she explored the Green Mountains of Vermont while working in a residential school for the deaf. She then moved on to the Peace Corps, working as an English Teacher in Namibia for three years. She re-discovered her love of exercise while living abroad via her husband’s work with UNICEF. She has since become a certified personal trainer, group fitness and Spinning® instructor, mentor to personal trainer candidates and first aid/CPR instructor. Cori and her husband have lived and worked the United States, Canada, Namibia, Kenya, Madagascar, Egypt, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines, where she currently resides in the capital city of Manila. Cori is a professional writer and editor and aspires to better her Iron Man 70.3 with a full Iron Man one day.
Why did you start taking Spinning® classes?
I took my first Spinning class with Master Instructor Gina Grant on the top of a Gold’s Gym overlooking the Nile in Egypt. I had considered myself fit at that time since I had been teaching step aerobics and toning classes. But the Spinning class made me realize that I could really increase my fitness without significant wear and tear on my body. I was a little embarrassed by my apparent lack of fitness during the class, but when we got off and Gina led us through the stretches along with a reflection of the class and our intentions and efforts, I was hooked.
What inspired you to become a Certified Spinning® Instructor and then a Master Instructor?
I knew that Spinning was not the typical top-down instructor-client relationship. I knew that my success was not about her, the instructor, at all. It was all about me, the rider. It was a novel concept in the instructor-centered fitness industry at the time. Spinning really elevated the industry, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
What do you love about teaching Spinning® classes?
Teaching Spinning, unlike other kinds of teaching that I do, does not drain me – it fuels me. I know the experience can be daunting for new riders, but I never forget how quickly a couple of classes can turn them into enthusiasts. I take my role in determining their trajectory very seriously – above any other role I have as an instructor and Master Instructor. Seeing a first timer or novice evolve into a regular enthusiasts feels like a victory; not for me, but for them, their families and their communities. When we all live better, we are all better. For me, teaching Spinning is never about distance covered and calories burned. It is all about self-efficacy and the positive health effects that ripple through each riders’ circle of friends and family.
What are your top three favorite songs to play during your Spinning® classes and why?
I have an amazing version of YoYo Ma playing Bach’s Prelude that so deeply resonates with me and my inner muse. When I start a class with it, my coaching is inspired.
“Take California” by Propellerheads is a great song that often finds its way into my playlist because it is a nearly lyric-free and very textured song that lends itself to surges and other variety.
Right now, I’m really digging all of the work of Peter Gonzalez because he masterfully takes my old favorites from the 70s and beyond into current sounding music. It satisfies my older clients because they recognize the tunes while hitting with the younger crowd because it's current with their taste. Check out "Creep", one of my favorites.
What makes Spinning® such a great workout?
What makes Spinning so great is that it has a yoga-esque "practice" element to it. Instructors who nurture their riders within the context of their Spinning being a practice reap the reward twice. Riders and instructors see their practice evolve in both depth and breadth, as well as recognize that the lessons learned in the saddle carry over immensely into the other 23 hours of the day. Yoga has been saying these things for decades – even centuries. The best Spinning instructors help their riders realize this too.
What’s one of your favorite motivational quotes?
“If you’re going to have a big butt – you might as well have a GREAT big butt.” I am not and never will be runway beautiful. This quote gives me and my clients the permission to “manage the genetics” we’re given. I am no longer intimidated by being the biggest person in the room. Too many clients have told me that they gravitated toward me because I do not look like a skinny supermodel. I hear that!
Do you have a hero in the Spinning® community, someone who deserves recognition for their leadership?
Natasia Iacovelli. She came in on the ground floor with Spinning, and it runs deep and thick in her veins. She is professional and knowledgeable and goes the extra mile to make sure she pulls others up with her. I deeply appreciate her selflessness in linking elbows with me on my long drawn out path toward being an MI.
Is there anything about you that would surprise people to hear?
One day, I want to learn to surf.