NORTH CANTON  Focused. Motivated. And now decorated.

The Expresso Bike team at the North Canton YMCA is all that and more for its recent fitness challenge efforts. 

"We are like a family here," said Shawn Wise, wellness director at the North Canton YMCA. "But the members of the Expresso Bike team are even closer. They work together to meet goals, they encourage each other, and they look out for each other. They share their stories. They are a unique group of individuals who have come together and formed a team to compete in worldwide Expresso Bike challenges."

They also form challenges of their own, Wise said, to push each other while riding on the stationary equipment.

Expresso bikes

What sets the Expresso bike apart from other exercise bikes is it has 40 virtual tours of varying difficulty. If you like forest getaways, the bike's virtual screen has it. If you prefer coastal rides, this bike has it. It has gears to shift. Handlebars allow riders to turn corners and curves, or it will do it for you. According to those who ride daily, the Expresso bike has everything a biker could possibly want and you don't have to leave the Y to enjoy the ride.

Pam Bernhard of North Canton started riding about a little over a year ago.

In January, she helped the facility win the top spot in the calorie challenge by burning 30,021 calories. Collectively, members of the Expresso group at the North Canton YMCA burned 786,070 calories to win the worldwide challenge. In September, the branch dominated the Road Warrior Challenge and rode 14,115 miles.

Bernhard is one of the YMCA's top riders. She and Denise Nims of North Canton, a three-year rider and the captain of the Y's team who rode with a collapsed ankle bone, kept each other going. Pam Christ and Lenny Schell, both of of Plain Township, worked together, each burning 45,001 calories. Christ has been riding just over a year. Schell is the seasoned rider with more than five years of riding the trails available on the bikes.

"Lenny set the goal and we just kept each other going," said Christ, who said she and Schell have set a goal of riding 1,000 miles a month, regardless of the challenge at hand. "We are just a tight little community here."

In September, the team rode for childhood cancer to bring awareness of the disease in honor of Wise's 3-year-old son, Tegan, who has been battling a rare form of cancer for the past 2 years. When the team won in September, Expresso sent him a trophy, as well one for the YMCA. 

Challenges are developed by Interactive Fitness Holdings. Overall, there are 2,500 facilities worldwide that participate, one-third of them are YMCAs. In Stark County, participating Ys are the  North Canton, Eric Snow in downtown Canton, Lake Township, Paul and Carol Y in Jackson Township, Louisville Area and the Minerva branch.

YMCA and Expresso

The North Canton facility has six of the specialty bikes.

"Some riders ride for 15 minutes, others go for an hour or so, depending on the ride," Wise said.

The bikes are open to all members at the Y when they are available. There is a core group of 20 or so riders who are 50 and older that seriously compete, and nearly 200 riders total.

"It's amazing what happens when a community comes together," said Wise.

Reach Denise at 330-580-8321 or denise.sautters@cantonrep.com. On Twitter:@dsauttersREP