In this episode of the SLN Podcast, John Baudhuin from Mad Dogg Athletics joins in with John Peters. In 1994, Baudhuin told his dad that he was quitting his day job as a CPA to co-found Mad Dogg Athletics, a fitness startup who ended up inventing an entire category – indoor cycling. 25 years later, John and his team not only defined the category, but they ended up scaling to over 35,000 facilities, presence in over 80 countries, and they’ve gone on to certify more than 300,000 instructors globally. John spoke about early struggles building the initial prototype, discussed the community behind the brand, and how Spinning sets itself apart from other fitness brands. John also spoke about the importance of brand and why Spinning, which they trademarked in the early ‘90s, is worth fighting for. 

Podcast Highlights

4:59 – The origin story of cycling. How John started the spinning category being a CPA with a hectic work schedule: “I fell in love with the whole concept of finding a better way to train indoors being an avid cyclist myself. And at the time I was working, I started out as CPA, I had finished grad school and really hadn’t been training as much as I’d like to primarily because of my work schedule. To find a way to train indoors for me was amazing and really approaching it more from a cycling perspective was something that really excited me.”

5:44 – The difference between indoor and outdoor cycling: “When you ride a bike today, an indoor cycling bike, what you’ll notice is it has a geometry to it that allows you to do both standing and sitting movements that lets you transition between seated and standing movements, much like you would, if you were, getting close to the finish line and that last sprint you see cyclists do that last a hundred meters. Those are the types of things that you could do on the bike. And by adding inertia to the flywheel, we were able to really create a feeling around the bike that made it feel like you were moving and feeling like you’re riding a bike outdoors.”

9:05 –  Things that informed the design of the original prototype and future products: “The bike really allowed us to do is really train where you could really just get into a zone. You could close your eyes. And, and so that’s really what informed the design of the bike was. We wanted a bike that was very cycling-specific. So if you look at the head and see two bangles of the original bike, and even the bikes that we produced today, They are identical to the geometry of a road bike.”

12:13 – Building the original bikes and early adopters: “We would have bike building parties on the weekends, literally where we had barbecues and friends would come over and help us assemble bikes. And so it was really, I would say a labor of love for us and something that we took great pride in, but probably weren’t as great at actually building bikes as we were passionate about building bikes.”

14:09 – The origins of the name spinning and how they coined it in early 1990s: “Spinning was a name that we just coined it wasn’t there was back then, if you think about a new exercise, there was really no name for it. And there was no brand around it. It was something that we. Coined the name spinning and said, this is going to be our brand.”

20:27 – How fitness means more to so many people and how it unites people around the experience: “People that just wrote me notes saying Spinning has been such an important part of my life and I was diagnosed with cancer. They would tell stories and say, it was my spinning class that did a fundraiser for me and pick my kids up at school and cooked for me. And they became my community.”

22:28 – How his spinning has lasted so long: “The nice thing is everybody starts and finishes at the same time. So the beauty was just that there were no limits to the difference, the diversity of the people that could go to class and feel like they were just riding in the pack and no one was being left behind.”

25:02 – Spinning digital plus, going digital with 160+ master expert/instructors around the world: “We have a team of about 165 master instructors around the world. And they are our experts. Some of them have worked with us for 20 plus years that are really amazing educators.”

30:27 – How technology can be developed in medicine to help the fitness industry: “One of the big topics today is telemedicine. And how do we get more efficient with how we deliver medical care to people at home. And when you consider the size of the medical industry relative to the fitness market I think we’re the beneficiary of a lot of technology that really is being developed on the medical side that potentially can be used in the fitness market.”

34:29 – The recent Peloton patent infringement lawsuit and Mad Dogg Athletics overall IP portfolio: “We really got to a point where we felt that there were issues around patent infringement that needed to be addressed. We initiated a lawsuit in December of 2020.”

37:30 – The credit of success of spin is thanks to the hundreds of thousands of instructors in spinning: “I can certainly say with 100% certainty that we could have never gotten to where we are today without the hundreds of thousands of instructors around the world who went out day in and day out. And they were the ones getting up at five in the morning to go teach that class.”

41:20 – Living better lives with fitness: “I just love to see people working out and getting in shape, you know, I think one of the best and most rewarding things of being around the fitness market for so many years is that you really do see how fitness can help change people’s lives.”