An ingenious New York City comedy personality named Fabrizio Goldstein, but known as The Fat Jew, is the acting SoulCycle instructor for the homeless population of the city. A resident of the East Village filmed Fat Jew teaching a spirited spinning class to pumped-up pop tunes.
A resident of the East Village was walking near Tompkins Square Park this morning when she found Fat Jew teaching SoulCycle classes to homeless people. This video shows a group of about five to six older New Yorkers enjoying a street-side spinning class under the guidance of Fat Jew.
“At this point your heart rate should be elevated,” he says. “It's all about core tightness. Let the music take over!”
The New CityBikes program was installed in New York in late spring as an alternative transportation method. Looking at the CityBikes station map will let you know that the bikes are installed mostly below Central Park. When the bikes are docked, the wheels continue to be able to spin, creating an instant set of stationary bikes that can be used for exercise. Add some music, an awesome instructor, and the dock becomes an instant SoulCycle studio.
Like anything else in New York City, exercise classes are incredibly expensive. Anything class — from dance to yoga and the latest cardio and spinning classes — can be incredibly expensive. At SoulCycle, one spinning session can cost around $35. This price obviously does not include outfitting oneself with the appropriate workout gear, equipment that can be expensive to purchase.
There has been much talk about how differences in income affect the quality of food that individuals from varying income levels have access to. For example, the term food desert has been coined to refer to “geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient traveling distance.” The term obesogenic environments was also coined in reference to communities where fast food is prevalent marketed aggressively to community members, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will suffer from dietary diseases. Not coincidentally, food deserts tend to coincide with low income neighborhoods where vulnerable populations reside.
I believe there is much less attention paid to the differences in access to health, fitness and recreation activities for the working poor or those who are homeless. However, according to a study (PDF) on homeless health promotion, the homeless “can benefit greatly from opportunities to take up physical exercise, which can improve mood and physical health. It can even be the key for some people in building their self-esteem and motivation, and helping them turn their lives around.”
Could the term “exercise desert” be coined to refer to persons who are unable to have access to proper exercise and recreation regimens? Socio-economic factors result in individuals not having access to fresh and high quality food, but also being unable to utilize private services such as a local gym. The more time spent searching for the basic means of survival, the less time that those in vulnerable groups have for exercise at, for example, a local park.
In his video, Fat Jew says he wants the homeless people of New York to SoulCycle so they too can have “sick, gorgeous bodies.” While not the only instance of an exercise program being offered for the homeless, Fat Jew's ingenious hack of New York City's overpriced CityBikes is offering a social service that is much needed for a large population that is likely to suffer from healthy food, exercise and recreation deprivation, in addition to having a high health vulnerability risk.