Pedal Works Café & Studios: Spinning & yoga, coffee & community

By Sofia Tosello

In 2014, while working at Lululemon’s corporate office and store in downtown Kingston, Martha Williams pondered where she saw herself in 10 years.

“My goal was to create a space that included all the things I love–Spinning, yoga, art, and a café,” Martha says.

Martha Williams

Martha made her dreams a reality and on December 7, 2023, opened Pedal Works Café & Studios (1412 Princess Street): a coffee shop with Spinning and yoga studios.

Walking through the double doors of Pedal Works, you’re met with a cozy living room, complete with a fireplace and large comfy chairs. To the left of the entrance is a bohemian coffee bar with rustic, wooden accents and warm lights. The café serves baked goods from Jobwell, a nonprofit organization supporting adults living with mental health challenges, teas from Kebaonish, a local Indigenous-led company, and of course, coffee. Pedal Works brews coffee from D’vine Connexions, a local women-led business that purchases its coffee beans from small farms in Honduras.

Pedal Works Cafe

A strong supporter of small businesses, Martha invites local sellers to a monthly event called “First Fridays,” allowing them to share their products with the Pedal Works community. Customers are encouraged to unwind, sip on a cold glass of bubbly, and listen to R&B music, all while enjoying Pedal Work’s peaceful and inviting ambiance.

“I’ve had people say things like ‘it’s so welcoming. It’s the first time I’ve actually felt like I was part of something,’” Martha says.

Artwork from a diverse range of artists adorns the space’s walls, featuring vibrant animals and stunning greenspaces. Martha’s love for art is woven into every corner of the café.

Art on a wall

Martha inherited her artistic flair from her mother; however, she describes her own journey into the world of watercolours as serendipitous. While in graduate school at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she painted an aerial photo of herself and her rowing partner traversing tranquil waters in their boat.

“She’s Black and there’s not a lot of Black people in rowing. So, I painted a picture of us rowing doubles and posted it on social media,” Martha says.

A Toronto news outlet noticed her ability to perfectly capture the water’s blue and grey hues and wrote an article about the painting, launching Martha’s art career.

Martha is as passionate about Spinning as she is about art. The Master Spin instructor–equipped with the credentials to teach aspiring instructors–designed Pedal Work’s classes to be safe and educational, eschewing loud, EDM music, and excessively fast pedal strokes.

“We focus on visualization, meditation. It’s all science-based,” Martha says.

Martha’s interest in cycling and journey to become a Master Spin instructor–one of only three in Canada–began during her childhood in Kingston.

spinning class

Needing a way to get to the waterfront by 5:30 am for rowing practice, Martha received a bike from her mother. She fell in love with cycling and refined her skills throughout her time at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

After years of working in the fitness and cycling industry, Martha attended a Spinning conference in Miami. She was struck by the impact Spinning had on so many people’s lives–it made them feel as though they were a part of a larger community.

“I was blown away by what Spinning was to so many people, and I thought, ‘Oh, I definitely want to be able to train instructors and teach each of them the way spinning was always meant to be,” Martha says.

Here’s what to expect with your first class at Pedal Works.

After ensuring your bike seat is at the correct height for your size, Martha starts your class by explaining proper pedal stroke technique and breathing exercises. As the instrumental music picks up, she encourages you to close your eyes and picture yourself cycling through a tranquil valley, a placid lake to the right, evergreen trees to the left, and birds circling the clear blue sky above.

Soon, you’ll encounter the valley’s rolling hills. As you crank up the Spin bike’s resistance, Martha offers words of affirmation. You’ll be reminded of your strength and encouraged to turn complaints of pain and exhaustion into expressions of gratitude for your body’s ability to push through a challenging workout.

After completing the sweaty Spin class, pop over to the yoga studio and stretch out your muscles. Pedal Work’s yoga classes are restorative, focusing on mobility and functional movements.

From the yoga studio to the Spinning room to the coffee bar, each aspect of Pedal Works was designed with love. Martha turned an elusive blueprint in her mind into a tangible, warm space welcoming customers from all walks of life.

“Customers walk in and say, ‘This feels like I’m home,’” Martha says. “They feel safe. And I know every single person who walks through that door.”