Photo Credit: SWERVE
Just about a month ago, I checked my email while waiting in an interminably long chopped salad line, and saw that I had received an email from SWERVE. Ok, not unusual, boutique gyms send marketing emails every day, but this one included three very special letters. N. F. L. SWERVE was hosting a “Speakers Series” event at its new midtown location with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and there was absolutely no way that I could possibly be anywhere else in the world while this was going on. Spin with Roger Goodell??? Oh my gosh. The possibilities. Would I beat him? Of course I would beat him! He’d probably throw a penalty flag at me for cycling too aggressively, fine me $10,000, and ban me from SWERVE for 4 games.
All kidding aside, this event sounded incredibly cool, and I signed up immediately. SWERVE, which, in case you don’t know it, is a boutique spin studio with two locations in Manhattan (one in Flatiron and a beautiful new studio in midtown) which differentiates itself from the Flywheels and Soul Cycles of the world by dividing riders into teams which compete against one another. It’s a great product, and Caroline and I will be writing a full review shortly. SWERVE recently started hosting a “Speaker Series,” which brings well-known individuals into the studio to share a spin class with participants, and then have an informal, roundtable conversation. In the words of a SWERVE spokesperson, “a SWERVE ride first, to get people to connect to each other, in a real way and break down barriers (it’s amazing how much more fun it is to chat with people when you’re on an endorphin-high and not worrying about how your tie or dress looks), followed by an intimate conversation with a NYC leader.”
I was skeptical about how close we would actually get to Commissioner Goodell (I mean he wasn’t actually going to cycle with us, was he?), and then, while strapping on my spin shoes before class, there, in front of me, was Roger Goodell himself, in shorts and a t-shirt, ready to roll. He looked at my Jets shirt, briefly looked up at me, ascertained that there was no way I had ever played for the Jets or any other team, at any level, ever, and moved on. But OHMYGODTHATWASROGERGOODELL!!!!!! And even better, the Commissioner and the guy next to him who most definitely was a former NFL player were on my SWERVE team! We would absolutely dominate the competition, clearly.
Photo Credit: SWERVE
Spoiler alert: We did not dominate the competition. Actually, we got our butts kicked. But class was great, James was a fantastic instructor who spun some football fan favorites into his playlist (think Eminem, Kanye), and the best part was yet to come.
Photo Credit: SWERVE
Yes, the free peanut butter smoothie was delicious, but I’m talking about the roundtable discussion, of course. After a few minutes, everyone cooled down from an intense class, and Commissioner Goodell came out, red-faced, surrounded by bottles of water and enormous men. No, not bodyguards, but former NFL players Tony Richardson, Matt Birk, and Eric Coleman. Ok, now this was officially the coolest thing ever. The commish, two former Jets, including one of the best fullbacks of all time, and a Super Bowl winning center. SO COOL!!!!
The SWERVE spokesperson was completely spot-on, having sweat through a spin class with Commissioner Goodell and his entourage, barriers were broken down, and the conversation was completely informal. One of the co-founders of SWERVE served as moderator, and asked the guests about exercise, football, and life–mostly about life. Hearing how Goodell worked his way from Jets intern to NFL Commissioner, how Tony Richardson climbed the ladder from undrafted NFL rookie to Pro Bowl fullback and NFL labor leader, was incredibly inspiring, not only to a diehard football fan, but to anyone looking to better him or herself. True to SWERVE’s mission, each speaker was inspirational, motivating, and dynamic, and I don’t think I blinked once during the 45 minute event. Oh, and for the record, Matt Birk thinks Mondays are a lot easier as a fan than as an NFL center, Eric Coleman can still bench press a car, Tony Richardson still goes to Jets games every Sunday, and Commissioner Goodell roots for two things when watching games, the team that’s behind to come back, and the officials to call a clean game.
Thank you to SWERVE for putting together an amazing event, the kind of thing that turns a gym into a community. I think the Speakers Series is a fantastic idea, and will absolutely be back for future events.