Big Apple macho men spin out of control

I will readily confess to being a New York gym rat: I like to go for a run or workout on the elliptical machines. The only times it isn’t relaxing is if I happen to enter the gym at the same time as the “spinning” class is taking place; then, you can literally smell the dripping sweat of the cyclists.

No matter how high I turn the volume on my iPod, the class’s booming music and instructor’s gravelly microphoned voice intrude into my private space. I find myself secretly hating the spinners and their ostentatious brand of energy. I stare at the men and women in their tight-fitting Lycra and lurid sneakers, as they race to sign in, and wonder: did you not get enough opportunity to strut, preen and explode during your day in the office?

So it was with some satisfaction I read last week of a lawsuit concerning a fight during a spinning class on the Upper East Side. Apparently the defendant, a thick-set, orange-headed, bearded hedge fund manager named Stuart Sugarman, 48, had grunted so obnoxiously, Monica Seles-style, furiously shouting “Yeah!” along with unprintable obscenities, that eventually a broker two bikes down, Christopher Carter, 44, could take no more. Carter asked the instructor if he could quieten the hedge fund manager down; the instructor replied: “If this is the the way this guy wants to psych himself up for class, I’m not going to stop him.”

What a typically New York response: go ahead, exercise the right to free speech with zero consideration of its effect on others. Carter snapped. He yelled “shut up” and when this didn’t work, got off his bike, grabbed Sugarman’s bike by the handlebars and pushed it back against the wall, thus injuring Sugarman.

Not to be publicly humiliated, Sugarman carried on biking for 20 minutes before calling an ambulance. He was diagnosed with a herniated disc and hospitalised for a week, requiring surgery and metal screws in his neck. When asked why he had continued biking, he replied: “I was trying to be macho – a football player plays through the pain.”

He did wrong, but it’s hard not to feel sorry for Carter, who faces a year in jail if found guilty. Sugarman sounds an idiotic man, and the instructor not much better. As for the testosterone-laden world of spinning – even in aggression-fuelled New York, such behaviour seems out of place. V

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