Text and photo: Geir Anders Rybakken Ørslien
“Everything I’m fond of involves communicating,” Ide Katrine Birkeland says.
“The act of giving people an experience – whether this involves insight, challenges, mastering something or just feeling a little happier. It’s the common thread connecting everything I do.”
Twenty-four hours before she says this, I observe two women waiting outside a spinning room at SATS Storo. It’s almost 11 am on a Tuesday morning in Oslo and two sweatsuit-clad women are talking softly between glass wallsw and barbells.
“Have you ever taken a lesson with her before?” one of them asks.
No, the other woman hasn’t.
“She’s excellent, very inspiring. You’ve got something to look forward to!”
A few minutes later, Ide Katrine Birkeland – nicknamed Kine – turns up the music in front of a room of ready-to-spin cyclists. She has had a contract as a spinning, yoga and dance hall instructor for 21 years.
What few participants know is that the inspiring spinning instructor also has a PhD in organisational psychology and spends the rest of her workweek as Academic Programme Director for Educational Leadership at BI, where she is also an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Culture.
Nor do the spinning cyclists – who are now standing up to cycle up an arduous uphill – know that the trainer has experience as a sports psychologist and as a DJ in the collective Oh Mama Crew. The day after the spinning lesson, Birkeland reveals how all of this follows a pattern that emerged already when she was in lower secondary school.
“I probably stood out and appreciated an interested audience. But I paid the price, because I was bullied a lot for having such a high profile. It’s something you probably never get over, because I definitely cared about what others thought and felt that adversity was hard. Still, I was drawn to situations that I could excel in and that were meaningful, whether this was discussions during lessons or dance lessons that I instructed.”
As a young woman, Kine liked challenges and going to school. In a basic college course in sports at Sogndal, she discovered sports psychology. What motivates people to do their very best? She loved the subject. She earned a master’s degree at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, specialising in elite athletes.