Q&A: How a retired stockbroker became the ‘Spinning Rabbi’ J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on July 30, 2021

Fred Fox thought he wanted to grow up to be a rabbi, comedian, therapist or entertainer. Instead, he became a stockbroker in his native New York City.

Now retired and living in Tiburon, Fox, 73, has pretty much achieved his childhood goals as the Spinning Rabbi. He earned the moniker years ago in the Bay Area gym where he led spinning classes intense workouts on stationary bikes, led by an instructor and was often told, You sound like a rabbi.

In 2011, Fox started the blog spinningrabbi.com motto: You cannot lower your mountain, but you can elevate yourself.

Though the pandemic brought his spinning classes to a halt, his blog is rolling along.

J.: How did you get into spinning?

Fred Fox: I was working out at the Bay Club and I met someone who wanted to open a gym and offer spinning classes. I said spinning? I hadnt heard of it; it had just become popular. We co-founded Gorilla Sports in San Francisco, I fell in love with spinning, and the next thing I knew I was teaching it.

What earned you the moniker Spinning Rabbi?

While people were warming up, I began giving them messages. They became a metaphor for life: I would tell stories that would inspire the class and that people could take with them as life lessons. Some were rabbinical stories with universal messages that would apply to anybody. It became very popular. There were people who would walk by my class just to listen.

Have you always been into physical fitness?

Yes. Im very active. I give myself a pretty hard workout six days a week. I played in the Maccabiah Games on the masters basketball team for the U.S. in 1989.

What is your religious background?

I attended an Orthodox shul until the sixth grade, then my family joined a Conservative congregation. We kept a kosher home. I went to Hebrew school every day.

Your parents were Holocaust survivors. Did they talk about it when you were young?

My mother spoke about it a lot, and cried a lot. My father didnt speak about it much, but he didnt hide it or deny it. My parents met after the war in a displaced persons camp in Italy.

My father was very active in the Jewish community in shul, Chabad, the UJA, JNF, philanthropic activities. When he was older, in his 70s, he started speaking at a Yom HaShoah event, broke down and started crying.

Most of the people we knew, particularly when I was young, were Holocaust survivors.

Did your parents experience inform your life?

Consciously, I didnt necessarily know the lessons that I learned. But as I look back, a lot of what I learned from them is infused in what I write. The resilience of Holocaust survivors My father was always my role model.

I was on the Yom HaShoah committee for Marin County and I have spoken as a child of survivors. The fact that my parents survived there had to be a reason why, and if I was born to them, there had to be a reason for that It had to do with doing good and keeping Yiddishkeit alive.

In your blog, you use the metaphor of climbing a mountain and encourage people to elevate themselves when faced with obstacles. What mountains have you climbed?

Being a child of survivors and seeing and hearing these stories its a lot to digest as a kid. Also, seeing those near and dear to me struggling and passing. And I was with [the investment firm] Bear Stearns when it collapsed as I was going through a divorce.

I was a serious cyclist until about five years ago when I was cut off by a car and broke my clavicle and two ribs. Then, about three years ago, another cyclist crashed into me and I fractured my hip, which required surgery. In both cases I stayed positive with my goal to heal. In both cases, I healed well and very quickly and was back to leading my spinning classes.

What do you get out of your blog?

Its like this: People would go to the rebbe and talk about their trials and tribulations. His advice: Once you have found what you are needed for, you will have all that you need. Maybe this is what Im supposed to be doing. Even if I have just one reader, the reward without being told is knowing that it helped.

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Q&A: How a retired stockbroker became the 'Spinning Rabbi' J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

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