I was chatting over email today with an old rugby buddy of mine about the benefits of spin class. One of the ones he pointed out was that “mean” instructor who you love. In his case, it’s a South African who reminds him a lot of our former rugby coach from SA. This guy was a real jerk. His name was Eugene. I don’t think I ever knew his last name. None of us liked him at all–at least not as a friend.

But we loved him as a coach. He squeezed more out of us as a team and individually than we could ever have imagined. We lived out of our comfort zone for the duration of every training session, and it made us better. We never knew from day to day what kind of crazy fitness drills he’d have us do or what new and creative way he’d contrived to expose our weaknesses and punish us for them.

Two of the things I really like about spin classes are that I never know what’s coming next, and there’s a little bit of an extra push implied just because someone else is telling me how to ride and what to do. So I was thinking, if I could create the ultimate spin class, what would it be like?

A lot like Fight Club.

  1. You do not talk about this class. It’s not on “the schedule”. You have to ride your way in and be invited to attend. (This probably keeps me out of the class, thankfully)
  2. Bikes are arranged in a circle, so everybody can see everybody else. That turns the level of competition up about two notches automatically.
  3. No verbal cues. The class is too hard for that. The instructor is too gassed to tell you what to do. You just have to watch and follow.
  4. Better yet, there isn’t even an instructor. The lead moves around the circle with each person trying to kill the group more than the last person did.
  5. The lights are on. Again, everybody can see what everybody else is doing…or not doing. (Plus I like to be able to see my HRM).
  6. The door is locked. Can’t hang? Get off your bike and stand in the middle of the circle until the session is over. Oh, and the first one to quit has to clean up everyone’s bike when it’s over.
  7. Class will go on as long as it has to.

Some of these are obviously a joke, but I think there’s some actual merit to an idea like this. If a gym offered a two hour class that you had to ride your way into and was super tough, there are plenty of people who’d be happy to subject themselves to that kind of suffering. Unfortunately, the gym I go to has a high population of older folks, and there probably wouldn’t be much of a market for it, but I can honestly say I’d pay by the class for a chance at that kind of punishment.