Jack and Corinne Wlody—aka “Team Wlody”—were omnipresent members of the Bike New York community in 2015. If you took a class, chances are they were volunteering; they were at our rides, fundraising for helmet giveaways, modeling in the Momentum Magazine fashion show at Bike Expo New York, and generally spreading a positive attitude everywhere they went. We thought it was high time to talk to these successful Howard Beach–based fitness and lifestyle consultants—who, it should be noted, started riding not too long ago—about what keeps them going (and going, and going….).
You suggested we meet here at Floyd Bennett Field. What’s the significance?
Jack: We probably rode thousands of miles here. Actually, I believe our first century came right through here.
I love how you guys have been riding seriously for, like, a few months—and you use phrases like “our first century.”
Corinne: I didn’t even think about it that way. That’s funny.
Jack: Yeah, I think we did a total of seven during the National Bike Challenge. And the last week, we did five. In between was a couple 90s.
Corinne: They weren’t all technically centuries, but we were riding a hundred miles a day.
I think it counts.
Jack: Yeah we did 706.5 for the last 7 days. We were just short of 2500 miles for the month of September.
You guys kicked total butt. First and second place in the five boroughs!
Corinne: Yeah, it was really cool. It was a grind, but still fun. I’m kind of excited about next year.
Speaking of challenges, from what I understand, you weren’t riding long before you participated in this year’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour.
Jack: If you put a challenge in front of me, I’m going to go after it no matter what. I think Corinne is pretty much the same way.
Corinne: I used to be a runner a long time ago, so cycling was fun to transition to. We decided we wanted to ride in the Tour; it sounded so cool, so we decided to buy bikes and start riding.
Your email signature says, “We introduce people to their own power!” Can you tell me a little about what you do and what it means to you?
Jack: Well, it means everything to us. I started my business 21 years ago. I had a good understanding of the human anatomy and biomechanics, so I figured I could do something with that. It started through word of mouth—getting people who wanted to transform themselves and make some dramatic changes. Then my wife came along.
Corinne: We worked together when we met—he “transformed” me. And it became a passion… it’s something I had dabbled in before, and we’re able to communicate very well with people on a lot of different levels. The two of us have such diverse interests and experiences that we can pretty much connect with almost everybody. It’s a neat thing to do together.
What’s the process like?
Jack: We make it as simple as possible. Simplicity is the key—if you overwhelm someone in the beginning, you might get that honeymoon stage where they’re excited to do it but they’ll burn out very quickly. So we do a ‘One Great Habit’ approach—
Corinne: —like ‘cut out sugar’ or something.
Jack: Yeah, or to just start walking, and just start noticing how your body feels in 15, 20 minutes. Once they establish that, then it becomes part of them, where they don’t have to think about it anymore, then they can incorporate another one. It’s like a puzzle, until it becomes complete…
Corinne: … And it becomes a lifestyle. It dramatically changes them … they can actually feel good most of the time, because you really should feel good most of the time.
How does your volunteer work with Bike New York reflect your attitude toward self-empowerment?
Corinne: When you are teaching someone a skill like riding a bike, you’re empowering them to do other things. The feedback we get from them is pretty amazing. I’ve had people say, “Oh, yeah, I saw you last week and your smile saved me”—and I’m like, “oh wow!” It’s the little things that you don’t really think about that you can give to somebody. That is the crux of everything we do. It’s those little things.
Jack: It’s about encouraging people.
Corinne: Making them believe that they can do things. And then they go from there. It’s kind of a hand, to pull you up.
Jack: We let them feel comfortable. Let them feel safe. Then you’ll find out that you’ll need to change things around. Because what usually happens when you start forcing them to do something, they get tight; they get scared, they want to back away from it.
You’ve done some fundraising for us. Can you tell me a bit about what you did and how that came about?
Corinne: We were thinking of donating bikes to kids, but decided that we can serve more with helmets. We started talking to our friends and our clients and asking them if they’d like to get involved, and they were really excited. We ended up with $2400 to buy helmets for kids.
How did your cycling transformation come about?
Corinne: It was Ken [Podziba, Bike New York’s President & CEO], really. We have a mutual friend. We met for lunch, and hit it off.
Jack: And he inspires us. I get inspired by people’s examples, their actions—not by their words. So when someone does something that’s like Wow—I want to do that too.
Corinne: Yeah, so it just became a thing. An when he talked about Bike New York, and volunteering, and teaching someone how to ride a bike… I remember him describing a grandfather who was sneaking off to learn how to ride a bike. He didn’t tell his family because he wanted to ride with his grandson. When we heard this story, it just sounded so good. We were like, “I want to feel that. I want to go and experience that.”
Jack: So Ken wanted us to volunteer with him, so we wound up going with him to Astoria.
Corinne: The Bike Bonanza.
Jack: We caught the itch, and we can’t stop.
Corinne: We love it. It’s an addiction.
So you found that feeling he described.
Corinne: Totally. People don’t realize how intoxicating it is. When you see pure joy on someone’s face—if you stop and look at it, it’s astonishing.
Jack: Any time you can teach someone and they can take that information and actually do it… there’s nothing better than that.
Who do you like teaching more: kids or adults?
Jack: It’s a toss-up.
Corinne: When we started teaching adults, some of them had wanted to do it forever…
Jack: … And for whatever reason they hadn’t. Maybe they couldn’t afford a bike, or were too afraid or too shy to do it. And they found a program that actually gives them the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike in a safe environment where there’s no judgment. How much better can you get than that?
Corinne: I think it is so awesome. I really do. It’s a blessing to be part of it. People think they need certain things to be happy. They don’t understand that happiness comes from somewhere else and they’ll get that if they give more. Like if you give, you’re going to get a lot of happiness. You cannot feel upset at whatever is happening in your life if you’re giving to someone else and making them smile.
Jack: And it puts everything into perspective. The Kim Kardashian mindset is not good.
You cannot feel upset at whatever is happening in your life if you’re giving to someone else and making them smile.
Corinne: Yeah, it’s the whole “selfie” thing. I don’t understand where that comes from.
Jack: But that’s what we’re trying to do—we’re trying to inspire and teach that there’s more than just taking and doing “duck lips,” or whatever you call it.
Corinne: And even if it’s just a few who care, you’ve got one time on this planet, so if you have a shot at helping a few people out, and making them realize that maybe we’re not alone and maybe they can do something, too, then great!
Jack: If you want things to change and improve, you’ve got to be the solution.