A Week in the Life of a Full-Time Student Who Teaches Spin Classes on the Side

Reem Ellis, an instructor at Revel Ride, gives us a look at her busy week.

Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

It’s Spin Week at Be Well Philly! Each day, we’ll bring you the best and the latest on info on indoor cycling around Philadelphia. Stay tuned for more great spinning articles!

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com with details.

What I do: I am a full-time student at Community College of Philadelphia, enrolled in the two-year dental hygiene program. I’m also a part-time instructor at Revel Ride. I teach four classes a week, and I work the front desk for about six to 13 hours a week.

What role health and fitness plays in my life: My day is scheduled around health and fitness.  If I am not teaching, I usually am riding my bike or hitting the gym for some strength training or yoga. Back in college, I could not have imagined becoming a fitness instructor of any kind. The moment I changed my outlook on health and wellness was when my doctor drew blood and informed me I was five points away from being prescribed cholesterol medication. It became abundantly clear that my views on diet and exercise were dangerously misguided and significant lifestyle changes were in order. Fast forward to the present, and I cannot imagine my life not being grounded in health and fitness. My lifestyle not only promotes physical health, it has a direct and positive impact on my mental an emotional health as well.

Health memberships: I belong to City Fitness ($50/month). My favorite location is the one on 13 and Wharton.  Not only is it close to my house, but they are a 24-hour facility, and they have yoga on the roof!


Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off.  It is my last day of “break” from school, but I teach at Revel Ride at 9:30 a.m.

6:45 a.m. — I head to the kitchen and make coffee and breakfast. Coffee is made every day in the French press using La Colombe. While the water is boiling, I drink two glasses of water. Breakfast is the usual: peanut butter with sliced bananas on toast and a teeny bit of honey. I also make a smoothie.  My smoothies are all the same. (I know what I like, why change it?) They consist of kale, frozen mixed tropical fruits from Trader Joe’s, almond milk, and a scoop of vanilla protein.

7 a.m. — I grab my notebook with my spin profiles and listen to my playlist making sure my counts, RPM’s, and watts are correct.

8:30 a.m. — I quickly eat a few pieces of pineapple before hopping on my bike and heading to the studio.

8:45 a.m. — I get to Revel Ride to practice my profile before the riders start filing in.

10:30 a.m. — I am finished teaching and am in the best mood. My riders were so energetic this morning, and they really worked hard.

10:45 a.m. — I get home and immediately shower. I start thinking about what I want for lunch. This week is special because my mom dropped off a week’s worth of amazing Middle Eastern food. She is honestly the best cook I know.

11:30 a.m. — At this point my stomach is growling, so I head to the kitchen to look at my options. I decided on eggplant in a red sauce over rice. (Side note: I eat A LOT of rice —I’m Middle Eastern, what did you expect?)

2:30 p.m. — I bike over to Capital One Café to grab an iced coffee. This is my favorite cafe to study at — if you are a Capital One member, all your drinks are half off! Winning! Today was a double win as it was happy hour and my iced coffee was free.

3 p.m. — I meet my BFF, Jayel, in Rittenhouse square to catch up and to take in the amazing weather.

3:30 p.m. — Jayel mentions she’s hungry so we head over to Di Bruno’s for a little snack, but I know I have more of my mom’s great cooking at home.

4:20 p.m. — At this point I am starting to get hungry so I grab a handful of peanut butter pretzels from Trader Joe’s that I carry in my backpack. I head over to Staples and do a little damage to prepare for my next seven-week course in microbiology, which starts tomorrow.

5:30 p.m. — I hop on my bike and head back home.

Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

7:30 p.m. — Dinner with my husband. This time I chose beef curry and potatoes over rice (yes, I know, lots of starch) and a big serving of tabouli.

8 p.m. — We move to the couch and find a show we both enjoy, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

10 p.m. — We head up to bed. It takes me approximately two minutes to fall asleep.

Daily total: $0


Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

7:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. On most days, I get up at the same time as my husband, so we can have the mornings together.  We both take our time rolling out of bed as neither of us are “morning people.”  We both love to sleep in, so you will never see either of us working out before 9 a.m.

8 a.m. — We finally get out of bed and start heading downstairs for our daily routine. Breakfast, coffee, smoothie.

9 a.m. — My husband has left for work. I head to our back patio with the rest of my coffee to have some “me” time.  This is my favorite time of the day, when I think about my accomplishments of the past week and think about what I will need to accomplish in the next couple of days. I try my best to have this time to only focus on the positives.

9:30 a.m. — I water the plants in our flowerbed, clean up the kitchen, and start any laundry that needs to be done.  The combination of all my sweaty clothes and my husband’s scrubs create quite a pile in just a few days.

10:30 a.m. — I head back out to the back patio and work on my playlist for Wednesday’s class. I grab a handful of blackberries as I jam out.

Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

11:30 a.m. — I get ready for school and make sure I pack snacks.  I am only in class from 1 to 2:30 p.m. today, but learning makes me hungry. I usually pack Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Pretzels or one of their Trek Mixes. I head to the subway today; it’s too hot to ride my bike.

12:30 p.m. — I meet my friend for coffee before class.  It’s his birthday, so I buy ($4.20. Big spender, I know) and take a few pieces of his fruit salad.

2:30 p.m. — Class is over! I start walking, then decide to walk the whole way home to South Philly.

2:45 p.m. — Hunger strikes as I walk towards Manhattan Bagel.  I’m going to treat myself; it was my first day back to school, and I love bagels. I order a cinnamon raisin bagel with a little bit of cream cheese. ($3.23).

3:30 p.m. — I take an amazing nap.

4:30 p.m. — I head over to City Fitness and start my weight training.  I like to do full-body workouts as I don’t get to the gym everyday and want to make sure I am hitting as many muscle groups as possible.  This is also a great time to work on my playlists. Recently, I have been working on my hip mobility as teaching spin really tightens up the hips.

5:30 p.m. — My husband texts to ask if I want to go to yoga on the roof at City Fitness. I’m already there, so I really don’t have an excuse to say no.

7:30 p.m. — We get home from yoga and we head straight to the fridge. I choose a soup with potatoes, chickpeas, and ground turkey with a keema spice in tomato sauce.

8:30 p.m. — I spend an hour and a half on my class playlists.

10:02 p.m. — Sound asleep.

Daily total: $7.43


Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

7:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. Morning routine begins.

8 a.m. — I am craving eggs, so I whip up two scrambled egg sandwiches. I sprinkle Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning on top of the eggs and put it on leftover hamburger buns.

8:30 a.m. — I head to the back patio and water the plants, self-reflect, and work on my playlist.

11:30 a.m. — I hop on my bike and ride up to school. I grab an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts ($2.43).

1:30 p.m. — Lecture followed by lab. I can’t eat or drink during lab, so I make sure to load up on snacks.  I have my trusty nuts and today I packed some blackberries and grapes. I also bring my S’well bottle full of ice water. I make sure I finish that before heading into the lab.

Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

5 p.m. — I bike to Sweetgreen and order my favorite, the Mexican Corn Elote Bowl ($11.12). I listen to my playlist as I eat.

6:30 p.m. — Time to teach at Revel Ride. As always, my riders put in that work!

7:35 p.m. — I get home and immediately shower and then head to the kitchen. I decide to make a burrito out of the rest of the fajita beef, topping it with some guacamole and pico de gallo from Trader Joe’s.

9 p.m. — I work on a new playlist for tomorrow’s class.

10:30 p.m. — Lights out.

Daily total: $13.55


Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

7 a.m. — Alarm goes off and the routine begins. For breakfast I have one slice of peanut butter and banana toast and two hard-boiled eggs, sprinkled with TJ’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning. I make my trusty green smoothie as well.

7:45 a.m. — I continue working on my playlist on our back patio. While I listen, I start to do some squats, push-ups, and hip thrusters.

1 p.m. — Microbiology! Today I make sure to move to the front row as my professor loves to call on you if he thinks you aren’t paying attention. I learned that the hard way on the first day.

3:15 p.m. — I meet my friend Mike at Miles Table before we start our shift at Revel Ride. I order the turkey guacamole club without the bacon ($14.90).

4 p.m. — I arrive at Revel Ride to start my front-desk shift and teach my 4:30 p.m. class.

6:30 p.m. — Class is over, and I’m getting hungry. To my luck, Athleta happens to be raffling off goodies at the studio today. I snag a Kind Protein bar (12 grams of protein, not bad!). That seems to get me through the rest of my shift until 9 p.m.

9:15 p.m. — Three of us from Revel decide to grab a drink from Tio Flores.  I don’t have school tomorrow so I am all in! I feel a bit guilty for wanting food because of how much food I have at home, but I can never resist some Mexican. Tracey and I decided to share the chicken, lentil, and cauliflower tacos.  All said and done, I get three tacos and two Tecates ($20).  Money well spent.

11:15 p.m. — I drink two glasses of water before lights out.

Daily total: $34.90


Photograph courtesy Reem Ellis.

7 a.m. — Alarm, peanut butter, banana, green smoothie, and today I make myself some iced coffee.

8 a.m. — I work on my last playlist for the week. Today I teach at noon so I peruse through Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist. I am not impressed. I look at 90s rock. Yes, this will do!

12 p.m. — Class is great!  My noon riders have SO much energy.

1 p.m. — Class is over and this is when I am riding the biggest high all week. It is Friday, I don’t have school, and I don’t need to look at a playlist until Sunday night. I treat myself to another iced coffee at Miles Table ($2.70).

1:30 p.m. — A friend that I met in Bio 101 invited me over to her house for some frozen Margarita pizza and a side salad.  I can’t say no to that, plus she is letting me borrow her Microbiology book for the semester.  $200 saved just like that!

5 p.m. — My husband and I are headed to Callicoon, PA to spend some time with his family. We stopped at the Allentown rest stop on the way because surprise, surprise I am hungry again. There weren’t great healthy options to choose from and since I already had pizza today, I went for Roy Rogers (don’t judge me, please!).  I opt for the quarter-pound cheeseburger, fries (duh), and a sparkling Smart Water ($11.15).

9 p.m. — We finally arrive at my in-laws amazing river house and grab a Landshark. My weekend begins.

Daily total: $13.85

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $69.73

Classes taught: 4

Workouts done: 3

Cups of coffee: 7

Smoothies: 4

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