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Walnut administrators turn to cycling for fitness, outlet
Robin swartz pic 1
When not being the assistant principal at Walnut Elementary School, Robin Swartz teaches cycling classes at two local fitness clubs. - photo by Photo Contributed

Running two magnet programs at Walnut Elementary School takes some talent, but cycling for a minimum of 32 miles a week in addition to running a school, takes both dedication and endurance.

And that is exactly what Walnut’s two administrators have.

Principal Mark Holmes has been an active cyclist competing since 1984. He averages about 150 miles a week and participates in about half a dozen competitions a year.

Assistant Principal Robin Swartz teaches about four cycling classes a week at In-Shape Health Club and Turlock Fitness Club. She averages about 40 miles a week and has been teaching cycling classes for the past five years.

Their passion for education runs strong, but cycling has become their outlet outside of the education field and brings a healthy balance into their lives.

“Everyone has an outlet,” Swartz said. “Cycling is my outlet.”

Most think that teachers just teach and administrators just run the school, but like everyone else, they form hobbies and outlets to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

While running Walnut Elementary, Holmes makes time to do his main cycling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays maxing out at about 80 miles on his Saturday trips. He travels to Woodward Reservoir, Sonora, Bear Valley and Del Porto Canyon.

All of his workouts are at a race-paced environment to help prepare him for the half dozen competitive races he does a year, he said. He prefers rides that have an elevation gain with rolling hills to push him to his limit.

“It is about physical and mental well being,” Holmes said. “I don’t just want to be fit. I want to be super fit.”

Balancing work, his family life and cycling is difficult, but Holmes said he tries to make his physical fitness a priority to continue doing what makes him happy.

“It provides balance to your life,” Holmes said.

Swartz cycles to stay fit as well as help others achieve the same goal of physical fitness.

She started cycling after about a year of attending cycling classes and was asked to start teaching classes. She has been teaching ever since and enjoys motivating others to stay in shape.

“I want people to know it’s a challenge, but that they can do it,” Swartz said.

Teaching classes at the local gyms gives Swartz the opportunity to show her educator side as the class teacher and holds her accountable for her own physical fitness.

After teaching cycling classes for five years, it has become a part of her daily routine and is as normal to her as it is to help run Walnut Elementary.

“It just becomes a part of your lifestyle,” she said. “It’s a part of who you are.”

Cycling provides an alternative exercise routine to help Swartz and Holmes gain physical fitness, while allowing them to express a side of their personalities away from the school setting. 

“You’re not Mrs. Swartz or Mr. Holmes,” Swartz said. “You’re someone else.”

This article is part of a series of stories about the secret lives of educators. For those interested in sharing their lives outside of the education field, please contact Maegan Martens by e-mail at or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.