Equinox Trainer Michael Wilbert Brings the Beat to Every Damn Class

Photo courtesy of Michael Wilbert

Photo courtesy of Michael Wilbert

Michael Wilbert may be one of the most popular cycling instructors in San Francisco now, but he wasn't always so sure about life on an indoor bike. The New Jersey native tried his first cycling class after an injury sidelined him from mixed martial arts (MMA) workouts years ago. "I met this 65-year-old cycling instructor who led the class wearing a lime green spandex suit," he says. "I was definitely judging him until we started class and I got my ass kicked. You can’t judge a book by its cover.  After that, coming back to class day in and day out made me realize it's not just about teaching a class, but the relationships you make, the impact you have on other lives and the camaraderie from being part of a group. When the gym was doing a cycling audition for new instructors, I quickly jumped to attend it. The rest is history."

Nine years, twelve gyms, and one cross-country move later, Wilbert is known as much for his high energy playlists—he researches remixes and makes new playlists every week—as he is for his calorie-torching classes. And he doesn't just spend his life on a bike: you can also drop into his bootcamp, TRX, and yoga classes at Equinox on Union Street.

When he's not teaching a zillion classes, Wilbert manages a nightclub in SoMa, which means he keeps a hella packed schedule. So how does he mix in his own workouts? Read on to find out.

Photo:  Arlene Watson

Rockyt: How do you prepare for the classes you teach?

Michael: Each class that I teach includes different preparations. For each bootcamp class, I have to prepare a detailed format of how the class will be structured including all exercises and [equipment] for members to gather before class.  The biggest preparation is being mentally focused to give all your attention to others and deliver exceptional, attentive cues that coordinate with your timing and music. 

Rockyt: How do you cross train?

Michael: Since I already teach four cycling classes a week, I try and cross train by weightlifting about three days a week and mixing in yoga for two days, as well. If I can jump into a Barry’s class or random bootcamp of my own once a week, that’s a plus, too.

Rockyt: What are your favorite studios for cross-training?

Michael: Barry’s, Orangetheory, Body Temp Yoga, and—of course—Equinox.

Rockyt: Are you training toward a particular fitness goal right now?

Michael: I would like to gain a little more muscle mass since cycling burns off so many calories. My goal is gain about ten pounds of muscle mass.  

Photo courtesy of Michael Wilbert

Photo courtesy of Michael Wilbert

Rockyt: What's your training regimen?

Michael: My training regiment is two parts: diet and exercise.  It consists of weight training three days a week, focusing on anterior chain exercises for two days a week and posterior for one, then flip-flopping anterior and posterior each week to balance out both sides. The second part is diet.  I am consuming 1,500 more calories each week to increase my muscle mass and readjust calories lost through my cycling classes.  

Rockyt: Do you take rest days? 

Michael: Since I also manage a nightclub, high energy is a part of each job and it does get stressful at times. Taking rest days helps clear the mind and reset your body so you can give it your all. Most of my rest days are quiet, including watching a movie, walking outside, reading a nice book at one of my favorite restaurants. All these things allow you to appreciate your life in different perspectives and help you not to get burned out. 

Rockyt: What's the best thing about teaching at Equinox?

Michael: Equinox Union street has, hands down, the best members. The energy I get from them every time I teach is incredible. The best thing about teaching there is being part of a community where you are loved just by being yourself.  It's something we all search for in life through work, relationships, and family. It has given me an outlet to express myself fully by allowing others to feel comfort and support while doing so.   

Ready to sweat it out to one of Wilbert's epic playlists? Check out his schedule out Equinox Union Street for the next time and class.