This morning we had a wonderful Pilates instructor come in for her first class. While hanging out after class, talking about her experience and how she felt, she said.”This is the return of Johnny G!”
You may not know this, but an Australian guy named Johnny G. invented ‘Spinning’ in the early 1990s. Johnny was a cyclist and pretty spiritual guy who found refuge and peace in his cycling and wanted to share that wonderful feeling, and great exercise, with your average gym-goer. Johnny G built his ‘Spinning’ around proper fit to the bike, proper form on the bike, and a quasi-spiritual approach that tapped into the wonderful feeling of a group of riders pedaling to the beat of great music.
Something has happened to ‘spinning’ over the last few years. In around 2008, SoulCycle opened their first indoor cycling studio in New York City and with it they brought all sorts of new ‘moves’ into indoor cycling. Now there are dozens of copycat studios across the country, all doing the same sorts of things that SoulCycle started; riders lift weights, do TRX, do ‘pushups’ on the handlebars, pedal at crazy fast speeds, do ‘figure 8s’ with the upper body, lean the body out and away from the bike for ‘corner to corner’ and ‘around the world’, all while pedaling the bike!
Thus began an arms race to see who could incorporate more ‘moves’ into indoor cycling. Studios work to come up with even more adventurous ‘moves’ to do in classes, classes are advertised as a ‘dance party on a bike’, reviews praise the awesome ‘dance styles’ of various instructors.
Important fact #1: a celebrity publicist and real estate agent founded SoulCycle, Johnny G was a highly trained and skilled rider. Important fact #2; SoulCycle and it’s copies advertise for “Rockstar” instructors, “no previous experience necessary”.
At Revocycle we are very much in favor of everyone finding an activity they can enjoy- we are all for anything that gets people moving. But just like medical medical and health professionals, which is after all what fitness is all about, we believe the first responsibility of a fitness professional is ‘first do no harm’. At the risk of being obvious, I’ll tell you that the indoor cycle is not a jungle gym- ‘dance moves’ on a poorly-fitted bike carry a high likelihood of causing harm to the knees, lower back, even face (rapid up and down moves toward the bars with the upper body!).
Revocycle was put together from my own experience finding peace, happiness and yes, great fitness, while riding my bike. I have ridden for over 25 years now, my current bike is what I raced back in 1993! At Revocycle we love how cycling makes us feel, we love the smooth, repetitive motion of the pedal stroke, we savor the engagement of the muscles all around the full circle. For us cycling is a form of moving meditation, a way to quiet the mind and feel my body working at a high level.
When I sat down to put together our instructor training manual, I cleared my desk, opened up Word and put down everything I knew about bike fit, proper pedaling motion, key teaching phrases that will help our riders find the zone, mind-body techniques that I have found useful in my own life, how to share the love of the cycling movement with clients…. and….
Our classes look nothing like the ‘whole body’, SoulCycle style of dance-moves-on-the-bike classes. In fact, our style appears to be very much in line with the original concept of ‘Spinning’ as put together by Johnny G himself. One of our instructors was so struck by what I had written in our manual that she brought in her ‘Spinning’ manual from the ’90s and pointed out all the emphases that program shared with ours- good fit, good technique, safety, paying attention to the body and the breath, getting into the zone with the rhythm of the music.
I had never read Johnny G’s early manuals, but like him I love the motion and find cycling to be a calming and beautiful exercise form. So, apparently we have come to the same place independently…. what was once so great and was lost has come around again! The classics never go out of style.
We are proud to be compared to the original ‘Spinning’ program in our focus on good and safe technique on the bike and our mind-body focus. We are even more proud to help people everyday find health and happiness through a beautiful, meditative form of exercise that is so near to our hearts.