Atlanta cycling instructor Keith Thompson’s bike dancing classes, called KTX Fitness, may make Spinning purists faint (and SoulCycle riders take notice). And they’ve made him a star on Youtube, where videos of his on-the-bike hip hop dance routines are being emailed between cycling instructors and enthusiasts everywhere, lately, with exclamations that often look like, “What????!!!”
Like most Youtube sensations (from singers to talking cats), Thompson’s stardom is totally unlikely. When he moved to Atlanta from Cleveland 14 years ago, he weighed 300 pounds and wanted to meet women. “I came here and couldn’t get a date. I said ‘everybody’s working out!’ and I just started working out.” (He now weighs 180.)
He fell in love with cycling and says that as a student in classes, he just naturally started moving to the music in dynamic ways. “I’ve always had energy. I can’t explain where it comes from. I would always be dancing on the bike and teachers would say ‘You can’t do that here!’ but students would start following me.”
Thompson became an instructor and taught at a gym before “they told me I was too radical for their establishment,” so he launched KTX Fitness, which now holds classes in four rented spaces around Atlanta. He swears that he offers lots of modifications for new riders and that anyone can take his class, even if rhythm is not exactly their strong suit. (The less experienced are in the back rows of his videos, he says. It’ll take you a while to get to the front.)
While he has no official plans to expand beyond Atlanta, Thompson’s excited to show New Yorkers what he does and says he’s open to all possibilities. “I’ve received three or four thousand emails asking me to come to New York,” he says.
One thing he can say is that if you come ride with him, it’s not going to be a sleepy experience. “I guarantee every class will be the same energy,” Thompson promises. “When I hit that gym, I become a brand new person and I can go all day.” —Lisa Elaine Held