Zephyr Pride: Love who you love.

While conducting interviews for a position at Zephyr recently, one of the questions we asked was “based on what you already know of our organization, how would describe our brand?” and the overwhelming response was “inclusive”. The definition of “inclusive” is “not excluding any of the parties or groups involved in something” and we at Zephyr strive to continue to adhere to this as a part of our brand through our classes, our space and the conversations that we have off of the bike. We all can relate to a time when we didn’t feel included in something, maybe it was just an event that we didn’t get invited to or an inside joke that we weren’t a part of or maybe it is something much more like being put out for being who are but we all know that feeling on the outside is something that we as humans do not like to feel. Using this knowledge and experience, we built Zephyr to be this space where you can walk in and be whoever you want to be. Often times we say in class “meet yourself where you are at today” knowing that it can change every single day but if we create that space to accept ourselves and each other, it will be this domino effect of self-love, compassion which in turn leads to a greater good. 

June is Pride month and we are celebrating at Zephyr. A part of our celebrations and conversations means that we reached out to our community members to share their Pride stories and we were blown away. Not only is every story beautiful, but they all come back to the same theme in how Zephyr has helped them feel at home in their bodies and included in this space. These are community members who are a part of the LBGTQ+ community and allies. The first two stories come from Deb and Mickey, two incredible humans who have the best smiles and open hearts to all and we can’t wait to share their stories with you. Stay tuned for more this month. 



Zeph Casias

I was fortunate enough to have been raised by a single mom and an accepting household. The flip side to that is I grew up in a small Montana town. At the time it was a very small community where everyone knew of everyone and everything they did. It’s also an ultra-conservative and religious community. Two guys came out about the time I was thinking of doing the same. I waited to see how my classmates and teachers would treat them. They were bullied and the faculty did little to nothing to try and stop it. So I chose not to come out until after I graduated. I didn’t feel a sense of community till I moved to Missoula. It’s extremely important to feel like you’re allowed to be yourself and to be completely accepted at every stage in your life. Zephyr is one of the few places where I don’t feel like I have to hide or look over my shoulder. Bozeman has come a long way in being more accepting but it still has so much further to go. This studio is helping to push Bozeman into the 21st Century and making it much safer for all who live here. For this I am extremely grateful.



Ricky Burns

I was raised in the south in a very conservative household, it wasn’t until I was in my late high school years that I was able to start to understand my sexuality. Once I moved to college, I was finally able to spread my wings and become my true self. I was a large part of the gay community in Charlotte, N.C. while in college. I worked with drag queens and in nightclubs and ended up owning one of the best gay nightclubs in the state. I was lucky to have so many great people in my life to be there to support me. It was a wonderful time in my life. Living in Bozeman it was hard to connect to the community, but I was lucky to have Jake invite me to Zephyr. Finding an accepting place to meet other great people has been a blessing in my life. I am thankful for my Zephyr family and my life is blessed every time I get in the saddle.







Marina Bradley

As a teenager in Montana, it can be hard to show your pride and find your own identity. It feels like there are a lot of people who don’t want to see you succeed, and it’s tough to find other people like you. But thankfully, I was able to push through, and find and live my own truth, and a big part of that is thanks to Zephyr! Taking control of my own fitness has really helped me feel more confident in myself and my body the last few years, and I’m proud to be a queer teen in Montana. Happy pride!
-Marina B, they/vem/vers






Jake Steding

Growing up in a town not wildly dissimilar to Bozeman I had all of the typical fears and hesitations known all too well to the entire LGBTQIA+ community. I found myself looking for validation through accolades and accomplishments – if I do enough, succeed enough, then I’ll easily overshadow the aspects of my humanity that others find “undesirable”.

As we know, those walls are not built to last. My coming out story is less of a “coming out” and more of a diving in head first, asking no questions, and hoping for the best! I didn’t sit anyone down and talk to them. I didn’t have big moments with any of my friends. I just literally started dating who I wanted to date and THANKFULLY the universe provided me with a family of friends that were there for me to achieve the best version of myself.

As I grew into myself I slowly but surely understood what it meant to have pride in myself and in my future. When you trust yourself enough to not just see the strides that you’ve taken but also believe in the steps to come, it makes it easier to take the stress off of the present version of yourself and hold more space for the next edition of you. My pride story is less about me and more about the people that have shaped me with their ambitions, their openness, and their energy. Never forget your energy matters and your presence is important.

Having found and been lucky enough to participate in communities like Zephyr, I feel confident in the way I exist in the world and how I communicate my most authentic self. All I can hope is that I’ve been able to represent in a way that shows others how important it is to be 100% you 100% of the time. I was lucky to have people around me with my best intentions at heart. Be the one that people are glad is there when the water’s rough. It takes a village to build a heart.



Emma Wulfhorst

To me, Pride means showing up as your most authentic self, with courage and confidence—if you’ve ever taken a cycling class at Zephyr, you know that’s their motto, too.

Moving to Montana to start my career nearly two years ago, I knew no one. Finding Zephyr felt like finding a family, a wonderful community that embraced me with open, most of the time sweaty, arms.

I’ve always tried to live my life fully accepting of others, but in recent years I found while I was praising and accepting everyone else, I wasn’t extending that same courtesy to myself. Zephyr has helped me feel confident on my lowest days, motivated even when I don’t want to get up, and grateful for my body and everything it does.

Just like Zephyr, the LGBTQ+ community is inclusive—you shouldn’t need to be “queer enough” to feel like you belong. Any identity or self-expression is valid and worthy of respect.

We don’t get to choose who people are, we get to choose how we treat them—I’m learning and working every day to remember that means myself, too.



Debbie Schenk 

I’m Debbie and I’m “The Mom”.  I’ve worked on LGBTQ+ issues in Montana for the last 16 years. Being an ally has been a privilege that has taught me so much, brought me great joy and profound heartbreak.  I’m still learning. In that time, I’ve seen much change for the better and still understand that there is much to do.  Raising a son who is gay, in Montana, had its share of challenges but it has made our family’s world a bigger and better place.  Today, when there are businesses, like Zephyr, who are inclusive and welcoming to all, it makes my heart smile. I’ve seen times, more than I’d like to remember, when this was not the case. In the spinning studio, mat classes & any event, everyone is not only accepted for who they are but people are celebrated. That matters and is so important.  So as June, PRIDE MONTH, rolls around I am proud and excited to be a part of Zephyr’s Pride Month celebration.  Love is good, for all of us. Thanks to the Zephyr crew for always leading with love.  Myself and many others are forever grateful.



Mickey Smotherman

From a very early age, I sensed that I was “different” from most boys.  I didn’t play with dolls or want to wear dresses, but I also was not very athletic – although I tried so hard to be.   In those days, there was no such thing as transgender or nonbinary in the vocabulary, so I struggled with who I was.

Fast forward to my post-retirement life after moving to Montana 15 years ago, and I realized that all my best friends had been – and are – female, and that I did enjoy wearing certain clothing that was not considered “masculine.”  As I discovered other qualities I liked about myself, I realized that most were considered “feminine” by society (compassion, nurturing, and comforting others – especially outside my family).  Since I knew I was not gay, I began to figure out what I was, and a transgender female was what I discovered – and embraced.

Moving to Bozeman 5 years ago – with Bozeman’s weather limiting the season for skinny tire road biking – I decided to check out Zephyr.  I quickly fell in love with the studio.  I had participated in spin classes in Missoula for 10 years before moving to Bozeman, but the classes were at a “gym” and were boringly similar, so it was hard to make myself show up.

Zephyr was different – I feel inspired, challenged, and most of all accepted for who I am.  I love being surrounded by strong women – both instructors and fellow riders – who inspire, challenge, and make me feel special each and every class.  On some days, I don’t feel like I can complete the class when I start, but by the end I am positively glowing – with sweat and appreciation for all those around me.  Zephyr has been a Godsend for this “gal” who just wants to keep going.  Although I’m probably the oldest in my classes, I feel younger when I leave.