I know what you're thinking -- I must be one of those people who likes to watch "The Biggest Loser" while working out because it makes me feel better about my efforts and myself. Well, I'm not. Honestly, the show has never been one of my favorites -- while I would never disrespect the amazing personal journeys the contestants make, watching other people exercise has never exactly sounded like scintillating television. But I was lucky enough to get invited by new "Biggest Loser" trainer Brett Hoebel to ride alongside him in a new NYC-area spinning class called Flywheel, and I developed a deeper appreciation for the show's mission and the contestants' journeys.
While I'm admittedly an anti-social exerciser, the opportunity to work out with a nationally recognized trainer was too cool to pass up. And Flywheel's technologically advanced spinning classes sounded awesome: riders sit in stadium-style seating deep inside a dark studio space with a tiny on-bike computer tracking your progress. I heard "dark" (as in "so dark I can't see what anyone else is doing") and I was in.
Flywheel ended up having a secret competitive element -- the top participants' scores are listed on a "Torque Board" for the rest of the class to see. I was really apprehensive about that. But once the class started, I didn't feel competitive -- because my next-door rider was Brett. Brett's enthusiasm for exercising wasn't just palpable -- it was audible. Every few minutes elicited a "whoop!" or a "yeah!" from my seatmate. He wasn't talking to me (luckily I didn't have to test my tolerance for social exercising that much), but I was still able to absorb his energy to power through. While I was far (far, far, far) from the top rider in the room on the Torque Board, I still felt pushed to keep going at my maximum effort by the excitement coming from Brett's bike.
As I finished up the workout, (which I ended up genuinely liking) I thought about the contestants on "The Biggest Loser." While I don't get quite as visibly excited about a good sweat session as Brett does, it is something I like doing, and do regularly, on my own. But for the people Brett works with every day, starting a fitness program is a life-altering, occasionally world-shattering commitment. Seeing someone so excited to keep going was a motivator for me -- I can only imagine what kind of impact that would have on someone who didn't want to start at all. I may not be setting a season pass for the show on my DVR, but I'll definitely be checking it out now, and remembering what a positive influence these trainers are on the show's cast members. Maybe I'll even flip to it at the gym.