Rachel Moon wants Hongkongers to get moving for Movember

XYZ cycling studio instructor is one of the Mo Sistas who are right behind men’s health month

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 6:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 6:00am

This month it’s all about the mo and the moves for Movember, a global charity committed to men living happier, healthier and longer lives. We meet three of the charity’s Mo Bros and Mo Sistas helping to raise awareness.

Since slipping on ballet shoes at the age of six, Rachel Moon knew she was born to move. First as a performer, later as a producer and manager of stage productions, and now as the business development manager and instructor at local indoor cycling studio XYZ.

So when she was approached to be a “Mo Sista” and “move for Movember” to raise awareness of men’s health issues, her answer was instantaneous: “Why not? We all need to move more.”

Moon, 37, spent her youth and most of her adult life as “part performer, part athlete” so she didn’t have to actively seek out fitness classes. But that changed when she switched to management.

“I started doing spinning and other types of new workouts, but most of all I was trying to find a way to get the same endorphins I got from a dance show.”

She finally found it at XYZ – a cycling class, weights workout and dance party all-in-one. “I was hooked straight away.”

Her dream job, combining her love of moves with management, almost didn’t happen. In 2012 she had moved to Macau from New York as entertainment manager of Sands China, but soon realised it was not the place for her creative spirit and planned to leave.

“Working in entertainment, you need to be inspired and surrounded by creativity, and I couldn’t feel that there.”

She came to Hong Kong for a weekend and randomly met XYZ founder Belinda Koo through a friend. “I was so inspired by her, and when she said that we could combine instructing with business development, it all fell into place.”

Moon’s students are treated to a stage experience in every class. “There’s a trick to producing shows and I use that in my classes. You need a strong start and a strong finish with highs and lows along the way.”

This month she’s challenging her students to move with her as often as they can in the name of Movember.

I vividly remember the moment I had to choose between performing and managing. I was OK with it and ready to step up, but after six weeks of rehearsals every day and knowing every part of the show intimately, on opening night I burst into tears. It took several weeks for me to feel OK watching people perform and not being on stage myself.

Music is the most important part of a good indoor cycling class. I don’t think people will be inspired to ride unless they have something good to move to. I spend six hours a week consciously listening to music and it can take from 10 minutes to an hour to make a playlist. Sometimes you find songs sync perfectly; sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. You can’t just have all your favourite head-banging songs; there have got to be pauses where people can refocus before revving up again.

Two things people wouldn’t know about me: I need my sleep, and I’m a big reader. I always make sure there is one day a week I don’t set my alarm. I always have a good book on hand. I have just read Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

I like to end every class with a message. Mostly the message revolves around connecting with the moment, and how we may not be able to control a situation but we are responsible for how we handle the situation. I want people to walk away mentally lighter. So many walk in, on their phones until the last minute, shoulders up to their ears. And then you see by the end of it they’re so relaxed and reconnected with themselves.

Luckily I find that I instinctively reach for healthier options, although I have a weakness for desserts. I think you become more health conscious just living in Hong Kong. It’s a fast-paced place, we all work hard and play hard, and there is the constant pollution. It just doesn’t feel right to load up on extra unhealthy options.

Some days, as an instructor, it can be difficult to feel 100 per cent motivated, and that’s when Ted Talks are essential. They are my go-to source of inspiration. I also have a bank of my favourite motivational YouTube clips. If I need a pep-up, I upload it to iTunes and just have the words. I’ll sit there with my eyes closed and listen to how I want to make my riders feel. It works every time.