By Steve Korman
What if I told you Spinning® could change your life? I know it sounds dramatic, but that’s exactly what it did for me. My journey began after a routine doctor’s visit in 2015 when I heard words that shocked me to the core: “You’re obese,” my doctor said. She then began explaining that according to my Body Mass Index (BMI), I was 40 pounds overweight. I was astounded and thought about the word the entire drive home. Obese, I heard myself saying aloud. I was obese.
I tried to figure out how my health slipped so much. There was the ACL tear earlier that year which prevented me from doing most cardio and lower body exercises. Around that time my wife gave birth to our second child which meant additional responsibilities and less time to work out. I also found that my career in the banking industry unintentionally led to unhealthy eating habits.
I spent long hours in an office sitting around at a desk. I would snack on processed, sugary foods to boost my energy and power me through stressful days. While commuting to work I would eat greasy, fried food options due to convenience. Back then I justified my habits in some way or another, but now that I was overweight there was no more room for excuses.
I began trying to come up with a workout strategy I could execute while still recovering from my torn ACL. That’s when a friend recommended I try a Spinning® class since it would have less impact on my legs than other types of cardio. I had tried indoor cycling in the past, but it had been several years, and the thought of it felt intimidating. I reminded myself that any journey begins with a first step…
I remember that first class vividly. Upon entering the room my nerves got the best of me. My heart raced, my palms turned sweaty, and I felt my body tense up before the ride even began. Everyone in the room looked fit, and all that came to mind was the doctor telling me that I was “obese.” As I worked up the courage to mount the bike, the instructor greeted me and put me at ease. Once the ride began my uncertainties disappeared. The energy from the upbeat dance music and the synergy in a class of more than 30 riders became an immediate draw. The instructor’s leadership propelled us through a challenging and enjoyable 45-minute workout. As the instructor walked throughout the room, she shared inspirational quotes and phrases with the riders. By the end of the class, I was sweaty, euphoric, and my insecurities had vanished. I was still overweight, but for the first time in years I was hopeful. Through Spinning® I would shed the excess pounds and become healthier.
I began attending Spinning® classes three to four times a week. Within a year I had lost more than 30 pounds and found myself in the best shape of my life both mentally and physically. This change prompted me to push my boundaries and gave me new vigor both at work and home. I felt more confident both in the office and while speaking with clients. I no longer felt the need to munch on unhealthy foods. I swapped candy bars and chips for fruits and vegetables while trading my sugary drinks for lots of water throughout the day. I had more energy at home while playing with my kids and helping my wife with daily chores. Friends and family started acknowledging the difference in both my liveliness and appearance. I felt renewed but I still wanted to go farther to reach my once insurmountable goal…
One day I was taking a challenging Spinning® class with one of my favorite instructors. Afterwards, I walked up to her dripping in sweat. “Is that all you got?” I asked sarcastically. Her response changed the course of my health journey and confirmed my underlying passion. “If you think it’s so easy, why don’t you try teaching the class,” she said. Though kidding, a wild motivation surfaced: I wanted to become a certified Spinning® instructor to give others the same accomplished feeling I gained from the workout. I felt that my background as an ordinary person with challenges most people face would resonate with gym goers. My results were proof that anyone has the ability to achieve their fitness goals if they give it their all regardless of lifestyle or background.
Of course, becoming a Spinning® Instructor seemed laughable to anyone who knew me at the beginning of my fitness voyage. They may have seen a once out-of-shape banker who was called obese by his doctor. How could a person who lacked the background in fitness now lead people on their exercise journeys?
I began learning useful tips from other instructors that acted as mentors to me. Some of these tips included learning how to use the bike power meters, setting up the bikes properly, preparing the music deliberately, and interacting with class members to keep them motivated and engaged. Within three months, I signed up to take my first in person Spinning® certification. Immediately after the class, I went home and began studying everything I learned. I took the online exam, and passed on my first attempt. After acing my Spinning® exam, I was hired as an indoor cycling instructor at several gyms -- X-Sport Fitness, NYSC, Crunch Fitness, and Life Time Athletic. Being a Certified Spinning® Instructor has not only compelled me to remain in optimal health but to provide inspiration to those I teach and pass down lessons I learned. My role as an instructor has allowed me to create life-long friendships with gym members and other instructors. Not only are these people fellow riders, but they have become a community of like-minded people who never want to hear what the doctor told me that day seven years ago.
Getting discouraged on my fitness journey would have been easy. But thanks to the knowledge I gained from my Spinning® certification, I now have the confidence to never give up. If you can relate to any of the challenges I faced, you may want to attend a Spinning® class. Or even get certified! It may just change your life. And just remember, the journey begins with a single step.
Steve Korman is a Vice President – Private Banker, ISSA Master Instructor and a Certified Spinning® Instructor. Since 2017, he has led classes at four gyms in New York. (Instagram: fitness_with_steve)
Photo Credit: Daniel Ro (Instagram: danielrophotos)