MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Fitness buffs as far away as Los Angeles, New York City and London are now working out to a beat that originates in Martinsville.
SoulCycle instructor Taylor Shank, a Martinsville native who was based out of New York City, has brought his headquarters to his hometown, maintaining his worldwide reach through a new website.
Shank is a 2008 graduate of Martinsville High School and a graduate of the University of Virginia. He worked in entertainment public relations in Los Angeles before becoming a fitness instructor, opening SoulCycle and workout studios in Malibu, California, Miami, New York City, The Hamptons, and Palm Beach, Florida.
When the coronavirus lockdown closed workout studios and gyms last year, Shank came to ride out the pandemic in Martinsville. He kept up classes over Zoom for people out of town and also has taught free community classes for people here.
When weather didn’t allow for outdoor classes, he used the TAD Space in uptown Martinsville (the former Rucker Plaza).
He said he had taught indoor cycling for 6 years, but eventually figured that since people “still can’t work out inside the city one year later, I may as well take it digital.”
At the start of winter, Shank got KJ Harkness of VLNZ Studio, also located in TAD Space, to build him a website.
Shank-Tank.com now allows him to reach his fitness clients who are scattered across the U.S. and beyond.
The videos on the home page are aerial shots of his workout class at Martinsville High School, him working out on an uptown Martinsville roof, and him riding his stationary bike inside TAD Space.
It proclaims his motto: “Feel Good to Be Good.”
The website describes his program “#ShankTank” as a cross-training method using High Intensity Interval Training in time to “the rhythm of a killer playlist turning hard work into a full-on dance party.”
The importance of music is stressed, including listing his role as an emcee for the Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival, which was created and named for his brother, Walker Shank, who died in 2008 at the age of 27 (their parents are Ralph Shank Jr. and Sandra Shank) and Edwin Penn, who died in 2007 at the age of 25.
The website invites people to listen to his 90-minute musical playlist on Spotify, “ShankTank 2021.”
A section of his website allows people to book daily online classes, which have fun themes such as “Britney Spears vs. Rihanna,” “Taylor Swift Tuesdays” and “New Music Rooster,” at $12 per 45-minute session. It also has exercise videos you can watch. Private live classes also are available.
His classes, offered between once and a few times a day, are attended by anywhere from three to 40 people, he said.
For each class, his bike is set up in a corner of TAD Space, in front of a scalloped screen. The venue’s regular lights are turned off, leaving a colorful lightshow to illuminate the workout.
In front of his corner is the table setup with electronics, coordinated by Harkness. They include a camera and a computer, so he can see the Zoom class and students on the screen.
Before the class begins, he greets the students by name and chats with them in a friendly banter. They come from all over. The day he had just three students, he said, they were from New York, London and Los Angeles – “pretty cool, because it was global,” he said.
During the class, he works out with his bike, encouraging them: “Changing our bodies with this wheel” – “Nothing less than our best, but that’s all it takes to change” – and, deep into it, “Yeah, ride it out here—one, two, one, two – Hit that right. Right, right, right, left, right.”
Shank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.