Spinning in Circles

Can today’s Green Spinning Classes recall the productivity of the original Spinning wheel or will this latest exercise craze remain a hemorrhoid on society’s ass?

There’s only one thing better than being on a real bike, under the sun, in the open air: it’s spinning on a stationary bike, sitting in a dark room smelling something like a cross between Limburger cheese and your uncle’s taint. At least that’s what Attorney Barry Trilling – a partner at New Haven’s Wiggin and Dana – will try to tell you. He recently became a Spinning Instructor at GoGreen Fitness in Orange and he bought a headset microphone to let everyone know he’s serious. (Read the full article here).

If they mated: Willie Nelson + Shamwow guy

Trilling is one of thousands of middle-aged, velo-phobic men Spinning their love handles away to the sounds of Foreigner at fitness centers all across the country. It’s the latest in a long line of trendy exercise novelties that captures the average American’s thirst for adventure coupled with his fear of getting dirty.

What is Spinning? you ask. I’ll let google handle this:

As you can see if you click on the image, once you find out “what spinning class is” and/or “what spinning exercise is” the next most popular search query happens to be “what is spinning good for.” I think that pretty much sums it up, but I’ll expound. Spinning gets rid of all the great things about cycling – the fresh air, the open road, the ability to dictate your own pace – and accentuates the single most unpleasant aspect: sweating. Sounds fun, right?

Remember the Nordic Track Skier? We all know the Nordic Track Skier replaced the treadmill, just like Tae Bo replaced Tai Chi, and Pilates supplanted Yoga. So it should be fairly obvious that Spinning has replaced the Stairmaster as a viable form of exercise, and if this pattern continues it will be succeeded by an equally asinine fad that attempts to simulate a real-world experience. My guess is that virtual wood chopping will become very popular next year.

Seriously. Spinning?

Trilling will lean on his Southern California roots for his classes. Part of the spinning process is visualizing the simulated ride, and Trilling describes hill climbing along the Pacific Coast Highway and high-speed sprints through the Palm Springs desert.

“I try to take people on a road ride,” he said. “Teaching is a lot of fun because you’re talking people through the process.”

That quote must have gotten cut off. Let me try to finish: Teaching is a lot of fun because you’re taking people through the process [of abandoning a legitimate form of transportation and recreation for a much lamer experience… Did I mention that our bikes don’t move?]

Only in suburban America would someone conceive this illegitimate, hideous and deformed child of cycling and then nurture it to adulthood. And to make matters worse, Spinners are now trying to mask their bastard child by hawking it as some form of eco-friendly technology.

As it turns out, Trilling, in addition to being a spokesman for Huggies Ultra Dry, also represents several green clients including Green Revolution of Ridgefield. And, it so happens that Green Revolution is all about converting human power into energy. I’m assuming that means they’ve discovered some way of converting old guy sweat into oil. Trilling even admits they’ve been collecting it,

“After you hit that first hump of exertion, you don’t think about it,” Trilling said of the intensity. “But by the time you’re 20 or 25 minutes into it, there will be a bucket of sweat on the floor.”

And with the help of Green Revolution that bucket of sweat may just fuel a car or fry a hamburger.

So what’s the fuss?

Spinning Class: sweat shop or legitimate exercise?

To me, the fact that they’re generating electricity only makes their behaviour slightly less annoying. Let’s face it, Orange, Connecticut being the suburb that it is, doesn’t give you many energy-saving options, so this power-generating scheme is really just a band-aid trying to cover a deep gash. The serious energy problems that suburban towns face are not going to be resolved by going to the gym.

I’m assuming the Spinners are all driving sedans or worse to get to GoGreen fitness. So that requires a shit-load of energy, not only to build the car, but of course to drive it. They might stop at Starbucks to sit in the drive-thru and order a Latte with skim milk on their way. That’s like rubbing salt in an open wound if you’ve ever considered the real price of gasoline. More than likely, the home they return to is a single dwelling on at least 1 acre of land. It may even have some green technology inside, but the fact remains that it’s sucking up a lot more energy than a moderately efficient, multi-family house in a neighborhood with a good walk score.

If these guys really wanted to “go green” they would ditch their cars and SUVs, and ride a bike to and from work. If you’re in good shape and you can’t do that, then you live too far from work. I’ll even give these guys the benefit of the doubt: maybe they’re sweating indoors now so that they can become healthy enough to bike to work in the Spring. That’s wishful thinking.

In conclusion…

Is GoGreen’s Spinning class going to save the world? No.

Is spinning even fractionally as enjoyable as riding a bike? Nope.

Is it better than sitting on your ass? It pains me to say this but, yes, Spinning is better than sitting on your ass. I will surrender that.

13 thoughts on “Spinning in Circles

  1. Okay, I have to admit this was a very well thought out post. As the owner of gogreenfitness.com in Orange, CT, I couldn’t agree with you more. Your same indignation prompted me to at the very least make an attempt to make a difference. To simply try a better, smarter way – that’s all, nothing more and nothing less. Please remember one thing; I never promised to change the world with this venture, I just wanted to heighten awareness.
    I know for a fact that this has been successful.

    Gogreenfitness in Orange, CT is much more than the bikes generating power. I was the GC on this project, in fact, I own the building. I wanted to “future proof” this building by applying energy efficient construction principles to the space. I folllowed “passive house” principles and did the best I could. I’m just one person, and I did the best I could.
    One thing I can absolutely promise is that I didn’t “green wash” this project. Please don’t attack this attempt to make a difference. We are cut from the same cloth and you’re invited to take a class at gogreenfitness.
    This is not a ponzi scheme – it’s real. Trust me, its real.
    The first class is free and you should take me upon the offer. Free is free.
    Robert Kravitz, gogreenfitness.com

  2. hee hee – your post is funny.
    I appreciate Robert’s earnest intentions – would that all new construction was done this way, but I can’t help but notice no answer to the call that his clients would be better serving the cause and their health by getting a cycle that goes and using it to come to his classes instead of automobiles…
    A happy CT cyclist (I ride all year too!)

  3. I’m sorry I missed the opening of this shop. I think it’s a cool idea, or a novel one, at least. I know it’s been done before, but to have it in my own neighborhood, close to where I might join a gym (to drive to in order to get a regimented exercise routine in), is cool.

  4. Hey Derek, you have the right to “he he” me all you want. I take no offensive.
    But, I do want you to know that sometimes the reality of the situation must come into play with regards to decision making.
    What I’ve tried to do is heighten awareness. Nothing more and nothing less.
    I do not challenge you lifestyle commitment. I applaud it and I love the biking community.
    The fact of the matter is that the majority of our society need a wake up call and if I can do that, even sublimally, then I have succeeded.
    I tried my best to embrace smart green initiatives. A different way, perhaps even a smarter way of doing things.
    If you were reasonably intelligent you would say thank you to me for at least trying to make a tangible difference.

  5. Thanks to ALL for your feedback. This post has gotten a better response than I thought it would.

    First, thank you, Robert. What you are doing is important. As you said, you are just trying to raise the level of awareness and that is admirable.

    I also am trying to raise the level of awareness and also trying to sound an alarm. My main point of this post (other than taking some fun jabs at spinning) was to raise awareness about our environmental/ transportation relationship.

    My point is that technology itself will not save when we have fundamental problems with the WAY WE LIVE. In addition to smart technology we require smarter ways of living which generally boils down to smaller homes on smaller plots of land with more shared green space (i.e. not the suburbs). The suburban dream will become nothing less than a nightmare in a future of limited resources. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow (especially in the New Year), but remember an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

    Basically, just figure out how to use your car less, however that is. We’ve gotten so used to doing it because we’ve been doing it for so long, but it isn’t the only way. Hasn’t anyone ever stopped to think how absurd it is to jump into a car and drive 60mph first thing in the morning! It’s unnatural and ugly and it’s reflected in our culture. But, humans have an unlimited capacity for transformation, so get out there and change!!!

  6. So where are the new haven bikers? Go Green Fitness is not far from New Haven. We’re on the bus route to Milford. I totally agree that gogreenfitness is attracting typical suburbanites but the “hard cores” seemed to really like it too. It’s different and honestly I could use your support.

  7. Rob,

    I’d be willing to try it, but I’m kind of scared of retaliation. You guys aren’t gonna dump one of those sweat buckets on me, are you?


  8. Robert,

    I’m still willing to try. Sorry about the sweat bucket joke.

    If I can get at least two more New Haven cyclists to join me (when it’s not 20 degrees), we’ll ride up there and do a class. It would be a great follow up.

    Who’s with me??


  9. Rob,

    Your friendliness is making this hard for me to get out of. I promise I’ll check out a class soon.

    BTW, I just saw the video from Fox61 News that was aired 1/4/10. I like your attitude and your ideas, but I’m still a little worried. I have to stand by my original claim that we need to find ways of using a lot less energy. I still offer my suggestion of cutting something big out of the equation – like driving – if possible. If more folks made that choice, we’d have a lot more energy to be put to use researching and developing sustainable practices like those being utilized at GoGreen Fitness.

    I heard some of your clients patting themselves on the back after class. They know that you’re onto something and you should tap into that awareness. If they carried their consciousness of energy use through the rest of their day they would realize that what we often call ‘normal activity’ is sometimes the most wasteful, (e.g. driving, heating/cooling, lawncare, etc).

    We need to fully realize a new lifestyle and culture, and your class seems to be pointing us in the right direction. Thank you.


  10. Dear BNH, (wish i knew your name)

    I have enjoyed this dialoge and I know exactly where you’re coming from. IE: turf care is rediculous – in Seatle property owners receive a tax abatement if turf is replace with native, draught tolerant plants. Grass is so freakin’ over rated and people don’t realize that this plant doesn’t die in the dog days of summer, it simply goes dormant.

    The only thing I’m trying to do at gogreenfitness is heighten awareness. I didn’t create the environmental problems we’re faced with, although I will admit I have contributed to the problem. I wish I could live a greener lifestyle and I’m trying to correct that personally.

    Do me a favor: don’t over think gogreenfitness. Just come and check it out. I need the support of the biking community. We don’t sell fireworks, lead filled halloween costumes, guns and ammo, or pornography. We sell awareness and HOPE.

    The funniest thing about this whole venture, which came about because I was disgusted by the world we live in – driven by greed, corruption, and the big money grab, – was that I had Fox eating out of the palm of my hand. The reported called and said he wanted to do a positive story for a change – so how could I refuse?

    You should come and I hope you embrace this effort. that would be very gratifying. Don’t make me beg. I already said I need your support.

    Drop me an email: rob@gogreenfitness.com and give me a heads up on your when your coming.

    Thanks again, I’ve enjoyed the banter.

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