Upon stepping into Lifetime Athletic in Ardmore, I was excited to partake in several group fitness offerings. I came across a cycling class called AMP. That’s when it all became surreal. The room was grand yet intimate but grander was the aura of the instructor: Arthur J Evans; he was a stage actor, master cyclist and hip hop dancer all rolled into one slim and super tall body. It was as if I were at a rock concert & club for the first time in 20 years. Frankly, I was a bit startled when I first took his class. I had to wear disposable ear plugs in order to keep my sanity. It was so LOUD in there! After a while, my ears adjusted and I started to enjoy more. Arthur’s classes are addicting. Arthur is a magician. He hypnotizes me to party like an animal then places me back to reality after 45 minutes, excessively sweaty with a crazy endorphin rush. When I feel down, I know the remedy is Arthur’s class to uplift my spirit. I photographed him in his element teaching a spellbound membership of diverse followers of every background, ethnicity, gender and age.
After class, he held court; conversation, hugs and kisses and selfies. I waited in the LifeTime Café to speak to him afterward.
Hazel: Hey Arthur, last week someone in class mentioned that you couldn’t make it because a television show that you produce was starting a new season, so you had to be in New York City. Is this true? You are a TV producer?
Arthur: I identify myself more as a writer, however, I do more producing now.
Hazel: You frequently mention about watching HGTV as your favorite pastime. Are you producing their shows?
Arthur: No, but I really enjoy their programming.
Hazel: I like HGTV shows because I like interior design. But, I hardly seem to have time for TV any more. We should circle back to your TV career in just a bit but first, I am just so curious… how did you get started in cycling instruction?
Arthur: I lost a contest. We had a biggest loser competition at work when I was working at radio station WUSL Power 99 FM, producing a morning show.
Hazel: You mean trying to see who could lose the most weight?
Arthur: I really wanted to win the $2,000 prize. In order to lose the weight, I took a spin class for the first time.
Hazel: How funny! Were you heavy then? I mean look at you now. You are so slim!
Arthur: No, I was always thin. The winner was heavy and lost 22 pounds. I could only lose 17.
Hazel: (laughing loudly) So you actually started to like spin and continued even after the bet was over?
Arthur: No! I HATED it! But the winner of the bet made me take more spin classes out of spite knowing how much I hated it because it was so grueling. I used to scream out of agony in every spin class. The head instructor at Aquatic Fitness Center in Bala Cynwyd said she nonetheless liked my energy and offered to give me an instructor gig if I ever elected to get my certification.
Hazel: You are so funny! When was this?
Arthur: In 2008, I got certified and I taught a Saturday morning class. I had to take time off teaching when my career took off in Los Angeles.
Hazel: It’s so wonderful that you have such a great second career. Is cycling an outlet for you, more like a hobby?
Arthur: I find cycling instruction instrumental in keeping my stress levels from show business regulated. Having said that, I still get nervous before teaching a class.
Hazel: Get out of here! You get stage fright??!
Arthur: I do. I’m actually a very introverted loner. I love my own company. I appear extroverted only when I’m teaching cycling classes.
Hazel: This is shocking! It’s like you are an actor putting on a performance. You transform into another person.
Arthur: Which can confuse riders in my classes who think I’m the life of the party. I get constantly invited to social outings. I’d probably be the most reserved person in the room so I always respectfully decline the offers.
Hazel: I get it. You are a writer. You express yourself through your written words. What kind of writing do you like to do or specialize in?
Arthur: I write comedy and sci-fi.
Hazel: What type of programs do you produce? Are they different from the ones you used to write for?
Arthur: I just produce a daytime talk show now. I used to write for television sitcoms and I’ve written for Ellen Degeneres.
Hazel: That’s amazing. Were there other writers also for the Ellen Show?
Arthur: There were 8 writers for the show working as a collective. Ellen does not write jokes but she is a comedian thus, she can improvise and change wording to make it her own.
Hazel: I spent most of my life in Los Angeles. Did you like it there?
Arthur: I did. My cycling prowess catapulted to another level on the West coast. It’s pretty serious over there with fitness.
Hazel: Yes, Los Angeles is a very image conscious town. So people work out to sculpt their body and to create a certain image that is expected. For your TV work, do you have to go to New York often?
Arthur: I’m there Monday through Thursday. Friday’s we have off.
Hazel: What has been the biggest obstacle in your TV career?
Arthur: It’s difficult being a minority in the business of show. Cycling instruction has the same obstacles.
Hazel: I know you have a loyal following. Isn’t Chuck one of those people?
Arthur: Chuck has been taking my classes since 2008 and joined this gym just to take my classes.
Hazel: Chuck makes the classes fun. Love him!
Arthur and I walked out to the lawn area, steps away from the gym and took a few more photos.
Talking to him was idiosyncratic and difficult to believe that this quiet, humble and fragile soul was a human tornado just minutes prior. We parted ways and in the blinking of an eye, just like that, he vanished into presumably the world he’s most comfortable…his own.
See you in class soon, Arthur! Thank you for all you do.