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Friday, Oct 7, 2022

Pushing Pedals With His Mettle

Spinmeister by day, spinmeister by night.

In his day job, Jason Vasquez is a corporate communications specialist for the greater L.A. region for Wells Fargo Bank. In his off-hours, Vasquez, 33, teaches studio cycling sessions, also known as spin classes.

It all started 10 years ago when a friend introduced him to a spin class.

“I had just completed my third consecutive L.A. Marathon, so I thought I could do anything,” Vasquez said. “But I couldn’t even finish the class.”

Determined, he enrolled and eventually got good enough to teach on his own.

He now conducts five classes a week; one at each of five Equinox gyms in town. There are about 30 people in each class, including finance professionals and business executives. Many use the spin sessions as their daily exercise regimen; others participate occasionally in lieu of bicycle rides.

Among the regulars: UCLA Anderson School Dean Judy Olian and Mehdi Eftekari, general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.

Eftekari said he’s been taking the early morning studio cycling class for eight years.

“A lot of businesspeople like me take the class; they are serious about exercising before having to go to work,” he said.

He noted that since Vasquez started teaching the class a year ago, attendance has risen.

“Jason is very motivational. He will get off his bike and either stand or take a bicycle right next to you, giving you pointers and encouragement,” he said.

Deep Religious Experience

Jonathan Larsen, 53, traveled to Rome earlier this year with his wife, Barbara, in what became the final days of Pope Benedict XVI.

Shortly after his trip, the pope announced his resignation.

“It was kind of a neat time to be there,” he said.

But perhaps neater still was a private tour he managed to set up for him, his wife and five friends and colleagues to visit the catacombs below St. Peter’s Basilica, where past popes – and Saint Peter himself – are buried.

The two-hour tour required detailed security: a background check, security pat-down and Swiss Guard escorts.

“They escort you down 200 feet below St. Peter’s; it’s all compacted dirt and it’s kind of musty,” he said. “It’s kind of an eerie, exhilarating feeling.”

Larsen, regional managing partner for commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley in downtown Los Angeles, was able to get the tour because he and his family are patrons of the Vatican Museum. He has visited Rome about a dozen times.

The dimly lit, temperature-controlled, brick-and-dirt passageways Larsen toured were part of a Vatican-sponsored archeological dig that began in the 1940s. Some artifacts date back hundreds of years.

Larsen said the depth of the corridors made his wife a little claustrophobic. But his reaction was typical for a Californian.

“You just hope there’s no earthquake while you’re down there,” he said.

Staff reporters Howard Fine and Bethany Firnhaber contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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