Why This Former MLB Star Thinks All Men Should Take Spin Class

Spin class
Spin class Jorg Badura

Marlon Byrd made his rounds in the MLB—and we don’t just mean around the bases. He was an outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, and Cleveland Indians.

(And, yes, he was suspended twice for using performance-enhancing drugs).

After 15 years in the MLB, his life post-baseball is nothing short of surprising.

Byrd’s now an indoor cycle instructor at CycleBar in Thousand Oaks, California.

We caught up with Byrd to get the low-down on his cycling obsession.

How Did You Got Into Spinning in the First Place?

I retired from professional baseball in 2016. I always had a fitness background as far as training—lifting weights, a lot of martial arts, track & field. I also played other sports as a hobby, like tennis and basketball. So when I retired, I wanted to stay active because I was only 30 years old. I actually wanted to start a business in the fitness industry.

So I looked up the big names that were corporate—SoulCycle, CycleBar—and at this time in my life, I had never been indoor cycling at all. I was excited to actually try it and see what it was like.

What Was Your First Class Like?

I ended up going to Cincinnati to visit CycleBar for two days. That intro class was actually a fun experience, and it was something I really wanted to get into.

It was tough. I was trying to understand what it was about. I didn’t understand the format, or that you’re actually going to have a terrain. I understood riding to the beat, but I was just riding. The crazy thing about indoor cycling is, the more you ride, the more you love it.

What Would You Say to Men Who’ve Never Taken a Class Before?

They make this stuff fun. You can expect an unbelievable workout. You have instructors that put together a playlist that matches the terrain. You’re looking in the mirror, and you only see yourself, but every now and then you’ll get tired and peek over and see the person next to you or the person in front of you still going hard, and you won’t slow down—it makes you want to go just as hard.

Do You Think Spinning Can Help Baseball Players?

The off-season starts at the end of September, beginning of October. If you don’t make the playoffs, you have four and a half months to get ready. What a lot of guys do, which I stopped doing at the end of my career, was run to get their legs in shape. I think you should do something low-impact. What better way than on a stationary bike? Even with resistance, speed, and coming out of the saddle, there’s no pain in the knees, hips, and ankle joints. Three things every athlete is afraid of, because once you have those pains in those joints, you can’t move the way you want to on the field.

I believe if I had done that earlier in my career, I would have had strong second halves of those seasons. The first half, everybody’s strong. But once you get to the All-Star break in the middle of July and begin to make that push all the way to the end of September, you need your legs underneath you. I think I would have had fewer aches and pains during the second half of the season if I I’d incorporated cycling.

What Does Your Training Regimen Look Like Now?

I train six, sometimes seven days a week, depending on if I teach a Saturday class, because I demonstrate a lot and I test the programs. I also write playlists for the indoor cycling class for CycleBar at Thousand Oaks.

What’s Your Favorite Kind of Music to Play in Class?

When I started, I liked rap music and hip hop. Now I play pop, electronic, and some EDM. There’s a great flow to those songs.

What Advice Do You Wish You Received When You Were Starting Out in the MLB?

I was blessed because my mentors Doug Glanville and John Kruk had great advice. They told me you have to chip away. You’re always working toward a goal. Always. A lot of kids get drafted to the minor leagues. And you might have a good season. My thought process was: It doesn’t matter how good your season was. Your next season is always your most important. Because that next season could end your career if you don’t have a good one. So always focus on that season being your best one.

What’s the Biggest Misconception About Spin?

It’s not just for women. It’s for athletes, men, women, everybody. I have a woman who takes my class—she’s 68 years old, and she absolutely loves it. I’ve even had my 12-year-old daughter take my class. That’s the word we have to get out there: It’s for everyone.