Meet Tara Busch, a hardcore musician and spin instructor! Her Tabata technique makes me sweat buckets. Photo by Maf Lewis

Tara Busch is that rare spin instructor who definitely marches to her own drummer. Her class, taught at Hype Silver Lake, is a thrash fest of HIIT and Tabata training. She is one of the few instructors I’ve encountered who crafts a training class for maximum cardio benefit. On top of that, she is the only spin instructor who makes her students sprint to Ministry. Catch her class Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings at 10:15, and Sunday mornings at 7:15. Bring a towel.

Sometime in the summer of 1992, when I was 18 years old, I took my first trip to Los Angeles. I was fleeing my current home base that was Charlotte, North Carolina for a more liberal, creative environment…and in my mind that was the sun-drenched, musical mecca that was LA. I was a front woman in a band that was based back in NC, and the keyboard player and I came out to see our then-manager. At this age, I was already a full on fitness freak. I immersed myself in aerobics, running, step aerobics, cycling and “boot camp” in an effort to stay slim & “confident” in my press photos & onstage. My diet was strict, of course — a very rigid choice of steamed broccoli, brown rice, bagels & bananas – a full on 90’s style fat free diet, every calorie carefully tracked.

So, back in LA – – my manager’s wife, also a fitness junkie, excitedly brought me to her gym to try this “incredible” new class. There were about 15 stationary bikes cramped into a tiny room with an ear-shattering sound system and a spectacularly lean, chiseled woman on the bike at the front of the room shouting into a mic on a boomstand. James Brown’s “Sex Machine” blasted forth, enveloping the class in a euphoric glaze of old school fun .The instructor, an intimidating hybrid of a prima ballerina and terrifying badass demon, pushed those wheels at warp speed, floating effortlessly out of the saddle in what I later would learn was a standing sprint. The students furiously pedaled along with incredible drive, joyous screams and hollers abounding.

Sounds like a fucking nightmare to some, but I was immediately hooked.

Spinning blew me away and I fell in love instantly. I loved the utter ridiculousness of it, the crucial role that music played in class, the next-level challenge & stress relief. It felt to me like a “musician’s workout”!  It would be a year or so until spinning made it to Charlotte, and I began teaching it as soon as I could.

My fitness obsession was going strong — I was constantly planning workouts around band practice, intent on getting “shoulders like Linda Hamilton in T2”….but struggling to bring to life the impossible body standards that I imposed upon myself. Sadly, my fitness obsession developed a tremendous dark side in the form of addiction and eating disorders. In the years to come, I would slowly learn to value myself and develop the courage to “slay the demons” – using exercise for health and not punishment. Spinning was something that I have stuck with all along, and it went from being my “drug” to the tool I used to make sense of my mental health & healing process.

All the while, music was my biggest love, teaching being a close second. I loved the cross pollination of teaching and performing, and leading a class that was so dependent on crafting just the right music and connecting with people on such a personal, vulnerable level. But as the years stretched on, my music career took over. I met my husband and moved to the UK, leaving teaching behind in 2001.

Fast forward to 2012, after the long stint in the UK, we were freshly back in Los Angeles, and planted our roots in Silver Lake. I noticed a spin studio on Hyperion Avenue as we were looking for apartments and it dawned on me how much I missed clipping in and “riding like a lunatic” every day, and the simple, sheer joy of teaching! I loved taking class, but teaching was a passion – and I figured it was silly to let said passions remain dormant. I renewed my certification and got “back in the saddle” so to speak.

And here I am teaching at Hype Silver Lake a few times a week (hopefully more soon) in addition to my music life – both still feed into each other more than ever. As I’ve gotten older, the body obsession gave way to the main motive behind my fitness habits, being mental & physical health, and gratitude for having a body that can (usually) do what I ask of it. The self-destructive young woman who struggled with eating disorders, addiction, body dysmorphia, anxiety, and depression is a ghost that I live with. I still struggle to this day with all these things; just not as vividly.

Teaching & exercise helps me cope, de-stress and connect with people that I otherwise would be too awkward and shy to meet. It’s amazing to see everyone dig into a tough class and leave stronger & refreshed….”reinvented”, as I say in class. I try my best to nurture my strength and pay that forward to those that come to my class, as I know we all have demons to slay, and our physical practice is such a magical component.

It feels amazing.