If you haven’t taken a class with Paul Swoish yet, you are seriously missing out. Most known for his super-sassy Cycle Blackout, Paul embodies the high-energy, funny and encouraging persona that makes for an unforgettable class experience.
Paul has been the Membership Director at VIDA Metropole for the last two years, coming straight to VIDA Fitness from working at a little place called Living Social (you may have heard of it?) At the time, Paul knew he wanted to work in sales but had no idea that he’d soon be leading and creating his own group fitness classes – complete with lasers, glow sticks and all!
Though Paul had always been pretty active growing up, he claims that he hasn’t always been a huge gym-goer. Once he walked through the doors of VIDA, however, he realized it wasn’t as intimidating as he thought. He started working out and taking spin classes regularly – and before he knew it was getting his teaching certification.
“I had taken so many spin classes where I would think of things I wish the instructor would do differently, or think of ideas that would improve the class, and it finally just clicked that maybe I should start doing my own,” explains Paul.
As captain of his college swim team, Paul is pretty used to motivating people. He describes his teaching style as friendly, encouraging, and full of joking around.
“I like to use my friendly sarcastic humor to keep people motivated,” he says.
This is especially true in Cycle Blackout, a format that Paul created himself based on what he felt were the most successful components of a spin class.
“Most cycle instructors don’t turn down the lights, but I feel like most people are more comfortable with the lights off. I decided to bring in some neon to liven things up and call it Cycle Blackout,” he says.
In Cycle Blackout there are two instructors and the room is divided in half with each side assigned to one instructor. Paul and his co-instructor, Jeff, alternate leading the songs and the teams “battle” each other to see which side can rack up the highest collective distance and power output on their bikes. At the end of class, the total numbers are counted and whichever team is highest wins! But don’t worry; everyone gets to celebrate with champagne and chocolate afterwards.
“I really wanted to add a battle aspect to the typical cycle class. People are competitive and I feel like it makes them push themselves harder and really get into it!” says Paul.
His class has been insanely popular at Metropole, with spots filling up almost immediately and constantly having a wait list of 5-10 people hoping for someone to cancel. It was just brought to U Street for the first time last Saturday, and Paul says he looks forward to bringing his Blackout team to more VIDA locations in the future!
In addition to cycle, Paul also teaches RIP 30, RIP 45, VIDA HIIT and Pilates reformer. He developed a love for Pilates shortly after getting his cycle certification, and is a big advocate for getting more people (especially men) to try out the reformer.
“Pilates was created by a man for men. It somehow became feminized when ballerinas began using it for recovery purposes, but it’s a tough class for anyone! It works your small muscle groups in ways that you really can’t on your own,” explains Paul. “Plus, since it’s a small group environment you’re held accountable for every move. The instructor is literally right next to you so there’s no way to escape!”
That may be true, but Paul’s classes are so much fun you won’t even want to escape! His playlists are incredible and keep you engaged and energized the entire time. Think along the lines of Kesha, Britney, a little rap and some 90’s throwbacks, and you’ve got yourself a class with Paul Swoish.
“There is nothing better than a killer playlist. I try to find hot songs but ones that aren’t overplayed – when I get that one person who starts to rock out to a song I’ve picked that’s the best feeling,” he says.
Lucky for group fitness lovers (not so much for the membership team,) Paul has recently stepped down as Membership Director at Metropole in order to focus more on teaching. He’ll be adding more classes to his schedule in the next few months – so you’ll be able to see even more of him!
When Paul isn’t within the walls of VIDA he likes to play tennis, paint, enjoy the DC brunch scene and check out new clubs in the city! (Where he gets his playlist inspiration from, of course!)
“I want people to know even though I’m yelling in class I’m always available for questions or just to talk afterwards! I’ve also lived in DC for about 10 years so I’m happy to introduce people to fun things to do in the city. Especially if they involve bottomless mimosas or bellinis!