This was awkward. Have you ever had a dream where you're naked in some public space? Well yesterday I wasn't dreaming, I was dressed, but inappropriately it turned out. The feeling I had was very similar.
That's because yesterday I had the privilege of taking a class at The Firm in Minneapolis. They were the very first official Johnny G Spinning® studio in the Midwest - introducing Indoor Cycling to us here in the frozen north around 1995*. As far as I know, they could be the oldest operating indoor cycling studio. Do you know of another?
I had met the one of the owners, Neil Miyamoto, at IHRSA. I sheepishly told him that I hadn't been to his studio for about 20 years. Turned out he understood us suburban folks don't stray far from home. To remedy that, Neil invited me to come downtown to see his club and meet his wife Kelly. She actually started The Firm back in 1986. Our plan was for me to take a class and schedule a time for me to interview Kelly. I'm guessing there's a lot of new studio owners who would love to know how The Firm as been so successful, for so long.
So yesterday was the day and as I'm driving into the city, I'm thinking; who comes to a 3:00 pm class, on a Saturday?
I got checked in, quickly dressed and ran up the stairs to a nearly full studio. My quick count showed about 50 riders... many of them watched me as I walked in. And a number continued to look at me. Not in an unfriendly way, no. Their expressions seemed friendly enough, some even smiled as they continued their appraisal of me. I started getting that awkward, I'm standing out like a sore thumb, feeling as I set up my bike.
What are they looking at? Could I be the only new guy here... Is that it?
Then it dawned on me. I was the only person in the room wearing a full cycling kit - my Life Time Cycle Team bicycle jersey and matching bib shorts. There were lots of t-shirts, running shirts, ripped sweatshirts, women's workout tops, gym shorts, regular shorts and yoga pants - but nothing remotely like what I typically teach in. 50+ people and I only could see three pair of bike shorts. No wonder people were looking at me funny. I couldn't help but think how silly and out of place I looked. What was I thinking?
They're not cyclists
This experience has me re-considering something I feel I've mistakenly believed; at some level all indoor cycling participants are cyclists and I should look like a proper cyclist (to set a good example) when I teach.
These folks at the Firm seemed to really enjoy riding indoors, wearing whatever they wanted, but by no stretch were they cyclists.
Kelly (the Instructor) was wearing a cute top and yoga pants. Nothing to distinguish her role as the leader. She looked like her tribe and her tribe looked like her... and they fill the place, on a Saturday afternoon, in part because she makes everyone feel comfortable. There was no pretentious; look at how cool I look in my fancy getup.
In fact the entire club is much the same. Simple concrete floors and white walls. Quite a change from the cherry walls and bamboo flooring where I normally conduct class.
So what to wear?
This picture is of Stages Indoor Cycling Master Trainer Doug Rusho, at a past ICI/PRO conference. Notice there's nothing that screams I'M A VERY SMART LOOKING CYCLIST in what Doug is wearing. He looks sharp and professional, but nothing about his shorts or shirt would communicate; I'm a hard-core cyclist. If you aren't a hard-core cyclist like me, well... you might not fit in here. Which I'm now concerned I have been communicating (and not always subtly) to the people who come to my classes.
*1995 is my best guess. Amy was originally certified and her club (The Flagship Athletic - now a Life Time) added Spinning around 1996.
- ICI Podcast 361 Life Time Fitness Takes Rhythm & Movement Classes Mainstream with AMP Cycle - September 18, 2023
- More observations from our students - September 9, 2023
- 5 Reasons Instructors (that would be you and me) Need A Professional Headshot - September 3, 2023