Fitness Should Be Fun
I started out in the fitness industry almost 15 years ago in 2003, part-time, as a Spin® instructor.
I took my first Spin® class in 1998, back when MC Hammer Pants were still in style… That Spin® class changed me. It changed my life. It opened my eyes and my mind to a career path that I had never before considered. As a 22-year-old who was one year out of college it gave me inspiration for what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
It may sound silly, an indoor cycling class, but fitness, no matter the modality, is transformative.
As the instructor started the class, turned on the music, dimmed the lights, and got us pedaling to the beat of the music, I remember how I went somewhere else other than an indoor cycling studio in the middle of a commercial gym. Visualization took over and I was transformed mentally, and physically I had one of the best workouts of my life. I was dripping with sweat, I felt cleansed both physically and mentally.
It was hard work, but it was exhilarating, and FUN.
After we finished class, as people dismounted from their bikes filled with accomplishment, and wiped the sweat from themselves and from their bikes, the room filled with upbeat chatter and wall-to-wall smiles. The room was 1,000 pounds lighter than it was before we started class.
Before class, the room was heavy with tension, stress, anticipation, and quiet conversation and exchanges as people set up their bikes. After class all you could see and feel was relief, elation, and exhilaration.
This ride that took us into the zone, cleansed us of our worries, stresses, and anxiety. It was liberating – like a moving, sweating, sprinting, hill climbing, churning meditation, AND it was FUN.
I walked out of that Spin® class thinking, “THAT is what I want to do for a living. Inspire people, and transform their lives through exercise.”
I knew that becoming a Spin® instructor would be just the gateway to my journey as fitness professional.
5 years later, in 2003, I went on to get my Spin® instructor certification and starting teaching classes part-time while I worked a full-time office job. Aside from training in kung fu, teaching indoor cycling classes were my most treasured parts of my week.
I loved searching for new music for my classes, and relished the ritual of putting the class playlists together as I mapped out the ride to the count of the music.
I love hearing from participants about how I helped to start their day off right when I taught my early morning classes, and about how I helped them to de-stress and decompress at the end of the day when I taught my evening classes.
The ritual of preparing my classes, looking forward to the times that I would teach class during the week, and impacting the lives of class participants, ignited a fire of professional passion and motivation, along with personal fulfillment that my office job did not.
I knew that I wanted to work full-time in the fitness industry as a fitness instructor and personal trainer but I was not sure how to make it a full time reality. Or rather, I was still grappling with the fear of taking the leap to make the transition.
During this time I remember that both training in kung fu and teaching indoor cycling classes were the hours I looked forward to most during the week. Even the 6 a.m. class I taught. On the days that I taught in the evening, I could not wait to leave my office job to go to my second, part-time job to teach.
5 years later, in 2008, I obtained my national personal trainer certification, my first kettlebell certification, and made sure I had some savings in the bank, left my secure office job and finally took the leap to work full-time in the fitness industry.
I never looked back and I have never once, regretted this decision, since making it a reality.
For 3 years I worked for commercial gyms as both a personal trainer and group fitness instructor and then went on to open my own training gym in 2011, Iron Body Studios.
During the 5 years that I ran Iron Body Studios with my partner Eric Gahan, not only did I stop teaching indoor cycling classes, but also I didn’t even take a class for my own enjoyment. Not because I didn’t love it anymore, but because I had to put all of my energy into owning and operating a training gym.
I lost a part of myself.
I lost the group fitness part of myself who knew how to make fitness fun.
I lost the part of myself who knew how to put class routines, whether it was cycling or body conditioning, to the count of the music.
I lost the part of myself who would reflect upon a class I just taught and think, “Did I really say that in class???” as I remembered words of motivation or jokes I busted out with involuntarily to keep people moving and motivated through the class.
I lost the part of myself who used to wear a bandana (yes, a bandana) to teach indoor cyling class, cue the beginning of a sprint interval with a big arm swoop, and yell “PUSH PUSH!” to finish the sprint interval.
The beast that I used to unleash on the bike when I taught indoor cycling class lay dormant.
I resurrected a small part of this self when I created Iron Body MetCon class, (kettlebell swings and bodyweight movements to the count of the music), for our training gym, but it wasn’t quite the same as 45 people in a dark indoor cycling room, with steam filled mirrors and sweat drenched bikes and floors, pedaling, grooving, grinding, and sprinting with endorphins flowing to the beat of the music.
I attended my first indoor cycling class in 5 years, 6 weeks ago, at my kettlebell training student, friend and colleague’s, Gabriella Walters, pilates and cycling studio here in Las Vegas, Inferno Hot Pilates.
As I set up my bike, clipped in my shoes, and started to ride, I started to remember the part of myself that I had lost.
I remembered how much I loved this part of myself. How much this part of myself fueled my passion in fitness and helped me to be a better coach whether I was teaching an indoor cycling class or coaching an individual one-on-one.
I wanted this part of myself back. I decided it was time to release the Spin® beast from dormancy. It had been too long since that beast had been unleashed on the bike.
Since that first class back 6 weeks ago, I’ve been attending indoor cycling classes, otherwise known as Cyclone, regularly at Gabi’s studio twice a week and I plan to get back in the instructor seat come the fall after I complete Gabi’s required instructor training and course hours.
With the rise of Soul Cycle, indoor cycling has evolved beyond sprint intervals to the count of the music, to incorporate a full on upper body dance routine along with these sprint intervals.
Some may make fun of indoor cycling today, mock how it’s evolved, and say it’s just a fitness fad but,
- Johnny G. developed the Spinning® program 30 years ago (THIRTY!) in 1987 and not only did it stick, and not only do many people still refer to all indoor cycling classes as “Spin®” classes whether they are really a Spinning® brand class or not, but also,
- Indoor cycling has branched off and metamorphosed into an indoor cycling craze like Soul Cycle or Gabi’s brand of indoor cycling, Cyclone.
From the music to the sprint intervals to the dance party on the bike, to even the branding, these cycling classes build camaraderie and make fitness FUN. Just as I was transformed by the very first indoor cycling class I took, people are fueled by the fire of endorphins that combining exercise to music, lights within them, along with the motivation that comes with how the group flows in unison and encourages each other to complete the challenge of the ride.
Everyone is in it together, challenged, working hard towards the same goal, AND having FUN while doing it.
Together they are riding, dancing, grooving, grinding, sweating, and sprinting to the music.
Together they are working towards the same goal of completing the challenge of the ride and of keeping up with the routine, to finish the class with the victory of sweaty accomplishment.
Together they are a TRIBE, lifting each other up and making fitness FUN.
Fitness should be FUN. If it’s not fun, if it’s not a ritual that you enjoy, then you won’t continue to do it and you won’t make it a habit.
If your fitness routine is something that you absolutely love, then it won’t feel like a chore and you won’t have to practice making it a habit because it will inherently become a daily ritual, a daily practice of doing something good for yourself.
Toss others’ judgment aside and find that fitness routine that makes fitness FUN for YOU, that fitness routine that transforms you, and I guarantee that it will naturally become a daily ritual. With that, not only will you find the intrinsic motivation that will keep you going back for more, but also you will find your tribe who will lift you up and push you harder than you could ever imagine.
#CycloneLasVegas @InfernoHotPilates I think I’ve found my tribe 😉