A 72 degree afternoon seems like the
ideal condition for an outdoor activity,
such as riding a bike. But imagine riding
that bike indoors, in a stationary position,
surrounded by 40 other cyclists. It's not as
bad as it seems.
Such was the setting for the third annual
YAS-a-thon, which was held at the YAS
fitness center in Venice on March 29. It was
held in partnership with the Women's Sports
Foundation's GoGirlGo program, aimed
to raise money to promote and assist with
physical activity curriculum for girls across
The event, which consisted of a marathon
of spinning, or indoor cycling, lasted from
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. To spin, each participant
had to raise a minimum of $1,000. This
year's fundraising total came close $40,000,
surpassing last year's total by more than
In addition to the proceeds accumulated by
the cyclists, funds were also raised through a
silent auction held at the site. Items included
Dodgers game tickets, a trip to Belize and
tennis balls autographed by Billie Jean King.
The day began with a rousing speech by an
instructor of the Yoga and Spinning center,
which got the participants hyped. Then the
Spirits were held high though by the
encouragement of YAS vice-president of
sales and operations, Sherri Rosen. Rosen,
who is also an instructor, repeatedly got
participants and onlookers cheering as she
reminded them of the event's purpose.
Keeping with the day's theme, cyclists
were energized by and seemingly rode in
stride with the rhythms of an eclectic range
of female music artists. The upbeat tunes
ranged from Madonna to Debbie Harry to
Janet Jackson to Lady GaGa.
Among the cyclists were a number of
female celebrities from the sports world,
including boxing champion Laila Ali,
Olympic medal-winning softball player
Jessica Mendoza and freestyle BMX
champion Cory Coffey.
Ali said that she has been spinning for
a couple of years because "it's a great way
to work out." Ali also spoke about how
discrimination against females tends to keep
"We aim to keep girls active because a
lot of times part of the discrimination is that
there just aren't as many activities available
as there are to boys," Ali said. "So we have
to find ways to keep girls active, and that's
what the Women's Sports Foundation is all
Coffey cycled briefly, largely due to the
fact that she is still recovering from her
tenth knee surgery. She too spoke about the
discrimination against female athletes.
"There are plenty of obstacles that female athletes face everyday," Coffey said. "I'm
usually the only girl in a skate park when I
ride. Guys usually look down upon you, or
they try to bully you."
Coffey also said that after impressing
male riders with her BMX skills she
finally changed their perceptions, although
that shouldn't be the case. "They should
be respecting you in the first place," said
When the cycling finally came to end,
participants did some light stretching and
exchanged high fives while onlookers
YAS founder Kimberly Fowler
exemplifies the powerful impact that sports
can have on the lives of females. Fowler said
that she grew up poor, but always had sports
in her life. After playing a plethora of sports in
high school, Fowler was awarded an athletic
scholarship to Boston University.
"Without sports I wouldn't have gone to
college," said Fowler. "I wouldn't have to
gone to law school. I wouldn't be where I
am right now."
The importance of physical fitness
resonated with everyone in attendance.
YAS instructor Amanda Cosindas cycled
in the event, even though she is five months
pregnant."Pregnancy isn't a disability," said
Cosindas. "Staying fit and active in your
pregnancy helps you maintain your weight.
It helps the baby stay healthy."
Cosindas said that she plans to continue
instructing right up until her due date, and
that she hopes to return as soon as possible.
The third annual Yas-a-thon was considered
a success, as all of those involved had a
Yolanda Jackson, Senior Director of
Athlete Marketing and Promotions for the
Women's Sports Foundation, said that she
was honored to have YAS host the event and
that she was impressed by the turnout.
"This is a huge, huge event for us," said
Jackson. "It has helped so many girls. We
are delighted with it, and we hope that it
continues for many years."