May 12, 2011 -- The first five minutes were fine. Then it hit me: the heavy sweating, the labored breathing, the rapid-fire heartbeats.
The stomach pain and toilet-hugging nausea? That was still about 10 minutes away. More on that in a moment.
First a little background: I was coaxed onto the stationary bike at SoulCycle in New York City's trendy TriBeCa neighborhood on this rainy spring night by my persuasive "Nightline" producer, Claire Pedersen, and by Laurie Cole, a hardcore spin class instructor whose chiseled physique alone should have been a harbinger of the discomfort to come.
Cole is a certified cycling instructor with a body fat index of roughly -20 percent and a smile that belies the hell she inflicts on her pedaling pupils.
Cole is one of the most popular instructors at SoulCycle, a growing fitness craze in New York City, the Hamptons and Miami (and soon to be Los Angeles), best described as "extreme spinning."
The owners of SoulCycle have turned that plain old spin class into an "experience." They turn down the lights, fire up the candles, fill the room with calm, and try to make the workout more spiritual than physical.
Then, somehow, while you're lost in the moment of "Zen," the instructors stealthily torture you with a blubber-busting workout that can burn as many as 700 calories in just 45 minutes.
It's become sort of a cardio cult for spinning enthusiasts. Some 2,000 people a week fight to get into one of these classes and they are not cheap -- $32 per session.
Celebrities love it. "Live with Regis and Kelly's" Kelly Ripa and her husband, Mark Consuelos, are SoulCycle customers. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have been here too. And when Chelsea Clinton wanted to lose weight for her wedding, she did it here.
Now it's my turn. Of course, if we're doing a story about SoulCycle, we need to see a little reporter involvement, right? And why not pick the reporter who's a skinny/fat guy? (I may appear skinny on the outside, but I'm wildly gooey and out of shape on the inside.)
So I velcro into my special biking shoes, snap my feet in to the pedals, and I'm ready to go.
Class begins with thumping music and Laurie Cole shouting into her Britney Spears-esque headset microphone. The crowded room begins to pedal in unison, first fast and frenetic ... then slow and rhythmic.
With each changing song, our workout changes tempo and intensity. When Eminem's "Lose Yourself" begins banging from the speakers, our hearts and our feet begin racing. We're in lock-step with our instructor, spinning away our troubles, torching away our calories, enjoying the "Zen."
Then it hit me. I told you about the heavy sweating and the labored breathing. Now for the nausea. I could feel it creeping up on me, but I ignored it. I didn't want to be the class wuss who gets up from his bike and makes a beeline for the commode. So I tried to put it out of my mind. But it kept coming back. So I coolly unsnapped by shoes, wobbled toward the door, and scurried to the men's room. What followed was 20 minutes of workout-induced vomit. I told you I'm a skinny, fat guy. Clearly more fat than skinny.
The worst part? As I was kneeling in the bathroom, hugging the toilet, I could still hear Laurie Cole shouting into her microphone. She was chanting, "Jeremy, Jeremy, come back, Jeremy." Then the rest of the class joins in the cheer. I guess they were trying to be supportive. It didn't work.
I stayed in the bathroom until the spin class was over, too ashamed to show my face. Laurie emailed me the next day, asking me if I was OK and wondering when I'd be ready to give the class another chance.
My answer? Never.