Spinning: The Mind & Body Experience with Johnny G

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Fitness expert Johnny G will discuss how to combine cycling with inspirational music, visualization and breathing techniques to create a unique non-impact, non-competitive exercise.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome to WebMD Live's Sports and Fitness Auditorium. Today we are discussing Spinning: The Mind and Body Experience with Johnny G.

Johnny G is the inventor of Spinning?, the innovative bicycling athletic training program that has revolutionized the fitness industry. Today hundreds of thousands of Spinning participants join Johnny G in this pursuit of health and happiness. Spinning training sessions combine a foundation of basic cycling movements with inspirational music, visualization and breathing techniques to create a unique, non-impact, non-competitive exercise experience.

Johnny, thank you for joining us today. What exactly is Spinning? How is it more than simply bicycling?

Johnny G: Many years ago, when I was training for a cross-country bicycle race called "The Race Across America," I started to experience a whole life beyond the bicycle -- mental philosophy, struggles and tribulations that had inhibited my life as a human being as well as an athlete through my entire career. The race was a 3,100 mile bicycle race from Los Angeles to New York City; I spent an average of 22 hours a day on the bike across America in 9-1/2 days. And I spent 200,000 kilometers on the road in four years. This gave me a tremendous amount of time for reflection and to think about life and the pursuit of happiness, as well as bicycling up some boring hill. The outcome was incredible. It happened in 1987 for me, where I nearly got killed on the road one night, and I decided not to do my night time training on the bicycle, and bring it indoors into the house. My wife was pregnant, and it was safer and also allowed an opportunity for me to be around her, so she wouldn't have to worry. It was at this point that I realized I could simulate everything I needed to do as an athlete outdoors. I could train heart rate, time, distance by monitoring intensity, and I could also work the most important part of the endeavor, and that was myself. This was when I started to think of constructing a commercial training program that anybody could do at any age. Yet that needed a very special bicycle, because the bicycles in the marketplace at the time were limited, and they would need a program, not a workout, that would take them on the path to self-discovery. So I formulated some principles, and named the program Spinning?, and I began to put it all together, and those were the early days.

Moderator: How did you come up with the Spinning bicycle?

Johnny G: I designed the bicycle around my road bike. The frame was the same geometry, yet I had two different ones, one for flats and one for mountains. At first I developed a seat post that would slide forward and back, as well as up or down, and it could change the angle of the bicycle, and would also work different muscle groups -- the quads to the mids to the back, and take the pressure off the knee, just by shifting it forward and back. You could slide it back five or six inches, so it would completely change the whole movement of the pedal stroke. And then what I did was I took a computer off the bicycle, because computers on the bicycle had been sort of part of mainstream for years and years. People had been involved with riding a bicycle that would let you know how many calories you had burnt, how much resistance you were using, what type of profile... and this, to me, was something that had to go. It was limiting. It meant nothing, and I felt that this would be the first breakthrough I'd make on the stationary bike design. I'd get rid of the computer, and what I would do is design the handlebars that would allow the participant to sit and stand up. This was a big deal, because all stationary bikes like Lifecycle or your average stationary bike would have a computer, and you'd throw a towel on the screen, or sit upright and pedal. That bicycle would give you the feel of a real racing bicycle; the next thing was take the fly wheel and create a solid cast fly wheel with a fixed gear, so it'd be connected to the pedal or drive train. There would be no free-wheeling, so it'd be very easy to roll your legs around to get inertia or momentum, and this would give you a chain-driven feel that you could only get on the road, and it'd be very direct and excellent to change timing, rhythm, tempo. You could accelerate, feel connected, and you could stand. By adding manual resistance, you could close your eyes and because of the shape of the handlebars, like sort of bull-horn handlebars, you could drop your head and move from side to side like you were on a real road bike going up a hill. The other big dramatic changes were that stationary bikes came with rubber pedals, but I changed the crankshaft of the stationary bike, so it'd allow the pedal change where people could use pedals for racing, or clipless shoes. This meant it would become a whole sport. People could train like athletes, and the only piece of equipment necessary would be time, a heart rate monitor, and the motivation from a Johnny G certified Spinning instructor, music driven as you'd go through a 40 minute training session.