It’s 7:30am and I’m headed BACK into Manhattan from Brooklyn to teach my second spin class of the day and I feel great! I’m all smiles and I have a lightness to my step. Sure I probably have some post-exercise endorphins but the real reason is because I just had my first crossover with Ney. “Crossover” is the word fitness instructors use when they teach a class one right after the other and see each other in passing. The average crossover is just a “Hey, have a good class. See ya later” but sometimes you see someone you’re close with and it’s a nice surprise, like today. Ney has been teaching at Flywheel since December and if it weren’t for me, maybe he wouldn’t have ended up here at all. This story has two purposes. The first is to tell of the friendship I’ve made with Ney. The other is to tell of how I am single handedly responsible for getting Ney fired from his previous job and how if I could do it again, I totally would.
As you know, spin has become a part of who I am and how I fell into teaching it is a fun story, told in previous blog post “Let’s Get Spinmotional”. In that story, I tell of a month long competition I participated in at my old studio, well before I was an instructor, in which the rider with the most rides in the month of July received and unlimited month free. I narrowly came in second and my runner up prize was a class with all my song choices. #jessicasjams The cherry on top was that it was a 60 minute class. A whole hour of T Swift and Beyonce! Ok Ladies, now let’s get in formation! (Insert sassy finger snap and hip pop here)
The instructor announced at the beginning of class that they were all my songs and we were off, “Bad Blood” kicking off the ride. In retrospect, the irony right here is pretty fucking hilarious. I’m not going to explain why, rather just leave it an inside joke for my spin peeps.
Anyways! Class was going and I was having a blast, “woohoo-ing” (yes it’s a verb) between every beat drop but what really kept my energy up was the guy riding next to me. He was feeling my music as much as I was and cheering me on throughout class. At one point he said “is that all you’ve got!?” I didn’t know who this guy was but clearly he had no idea how competitive my spin self is. The hour flew by but somewhere in that class was the moment I knew I needed to pursue this professionally.
After class, the instructor introduced me to my friendly competitor. “This is Ney, he’s training to become an instructor here.” Amazing! Nice to meet you Ney! Over the next few months we met regularly for the 6am classes, betting that the other wouldn’t make it. We always did and we continued to hold onto that fun level of competition, sometimes adjusting each other’s resistance. I learned Ney was a well established Tango instructor and spinning was his next move. I also learned he had three young kids that lived in New Hampshire with their mother and he frequently went to visit them.
When Ney had his big debut at our old studio I was there to cheer him on. I even wrote him a spirited cheer using all the words that rhyme with “Ney” which turns out is a lot! Ney had made it to the podium! Horray Ney! (See, it rhymes) He didn’t teach too many classes at the Upper East Side location but whenever he did, I was there, front row woohoo-ing my way through his class. When I made my own way to the podium a few months later, sure enough Ney was there with a poem in return. It turns out nothing rhymes with Jessica. See his poem to me below.
Unfortunately, for each of the instructors at the studio, our day to day there became tainted by poor management and delusional owners. One by one they left, on to bigger and better studios and all that stood was Ney and I. We had each other’s backs and a solid ongoing text to keep each other thriving. I had intended to hold on to the job for as long as I could because of my love for teaching but I had reached my max. In October I had made up my mind to quit the studio on my own terms.
I was leading my own charity ride and I had planned to drop the bomb that this would be my last class right during the upper body song. They had treated us all so poorly that this was the only option I had to say goodbye to the riders I had grown to love. Of course Ney was there to support but he didn’t know what was about to happen. All he knew was that I had asked him to take a video of me towards the end of arms. Like the true team player he is, his phone was out and ready and he was able to capture my big announcement.
Following the class, several of us went out for drinks to celebrate and Ney had posted a picture of me on his Instagram story wishing me luck on future endeavors. At this point I had no plan to teach anywhere else but apparently management didn’t believe Ney, nor did they believe him when he said he had no idea I was planning to quit. They fired him the next morning and told him he had been “cancerous to the business”. Just typing this infuriates me because Ney is by far the biggest team player you could ever meet and he is in NO way cancerous to anybody. He built a family with his riders and he supported each of his fellow instructors with such sincerity and selflessness. He had always been oddly and blatantly mistreated by management and this was the straw that broke my back.
At this point, I had already began this blog and had discovered that writing could be very therapeutic. About a week before my last spin class, I had put my frustrations with the studio into written word, not to share but to help me deal with it all. What I wrote was raw, it was aggressive and it was full of anger. I had ZERO intention of sharing it with anyone. It was for me and I knew posting it would cause a big stir and that wasn’t my intent. This was however, until they fired Ney because of MY actions. They fired a man who supported a family, who put his heart and soul into building his classes and who simply wanted to teach spin and his love for it sparkled. I had to go get justice. As soon as the news of Neys unemployment hit my ears, I posted my blog, “Dear Bossman”. It caused the stir I had predicted it would. I have zero regrets and I would post it again in a heartbeat if they ever fucked with another one of my spin family members.
What followed the layoff was the push Ney needed to audition at Flywheel. He had been thinking about it but feared the bosses finding out and firing him. A vicious trap. Well, nothing stopped him now and so he went for it. He auditioned, he trained, he conquered. Hooray Ney!
I was sorry I got Ney fired. I was. Im not anymore. It turns out I did him a favor and he even later thanked me. Now he works for a company who helped make him the spin instructor he was meant to be and they treat him with a level of professionalism we are all still in awe over after the way we used to be treated.
I sat with Ilana, a mutual friend and old co-worker from our original studio. We chatted about what makes Ney so amazing and this is what she said, “Ney always sees and believes in your best self. And without trying, he pushes you to see what he sees, and believe it. He lives for your shine, which makes him the most valuable type of friend.” Bingo. Ney is always excited for you, always proud and always encouraging in the most sincere way. Ney doesn’t need cheers that rhyme, he just needs his heart and his passion and with him at your side, he makes you feel like you can conquer the world.
Ney’s Poem to me on December 10, 2016:
How appropriate that today
of all days
When Drunken Santas lay
In the streets today
Clutching their bottles of Alize
I will take the time to say:
Jess is the best
Better than the rest
Let me profess
my spin love for Jess
She is gonna do her ride
I’m in the front so I can’t hide
Let me give the mic to Jess
The crazy cat lady God-ess