Forever Fit

Jimmy Lewis and Sarla Nichols ride bikes

By Christin Parsons. Photos by Sarah McAlexander


Jimmy is the founder & owner of Relevant Roasters, a coffee roasting company, and Sarla is a yoga instructor and owner of Being & Becoming whole life counseling


Jimmy Lewis and Sarla Nichols have been fixtures in the Memphis fitness community for decades. Sarla previously owned and operated Midtown Yoga, and she continues to teach a group class there, as well as teaching privately at her home. Jimmy is the former owner of Squash Blossom, a natural food store that later became Wild Oats. Today, the two are still very active, and have developed a new love for cycling over the past few years.

Years ago, Jimmy and Sarla did a lot of aerobic activities, such as aerobics classes, running, and swimming. When Sarla opened Midtown Yoga in 2001, the two focused solely on their yoga practice for a while, with their only cardio activity being walking. In 2011 Sarla was diagnosed with breast cancer and began undergoing radiation, losing 10% of her lung capacity through the process. Knowing she could benefit from aerobic activities, and with the newly opened Greenline available to them, she and Jimmy started cycling.

Sarla initially began with spin classes at Victory to condition her legs to do longer rides, and the pair started off participating in various group rides around town. Since then they have participated in several long rides, including the Bon Ton Roulet in upstate New York and the Northwoods Ride, a 350-mile, seven-day ride through Wisconsin offered by Pedal Across Wisconsin. The two say they enjoy being able to cover more ground and see more scenery while biking as opposed to running. They have also found they are less prone to injury on the bike than during their days as runners.

“ There’s a sense of freedom that comes with cycling. Traveling and seeing things from the bike is a unique experience that’s almost a throwback to childhood.” – Jimmy Lewis

Jimmy and Sarla cycle every day or every other day. They base the distance of their rides on their available time. Some mornings that means 45 minutes, and others it is an hour and a half. On the weekends they tend to go on a longer ride for two or more hours. The couple also meditates approximately 30 minutes per day. Jimmy has found that cycling supports his ability to sit and be still during meditation. Sarla still teaches and practices yoga, and her yoga practice revolves around what is going on with her physically. If she is tight or her muscles are sore from other activities, she will incorporate more yoga into her routine.

Both Jimmy and Sarla have felt physically stronger since they began cycling. Beyond the health benefits, they enjoy having another activity to do together. Finding time for all of their hobbies, including gardening, cooking, yoga, cycling, and being grandparents can be challenging, but they have found a balance that works for them and allows them to partake in their favorite activities.

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