Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Johnny Goldberg (also known as Johnny G) is the creator of the fitness phenomenon, Spinning®. The son of a pharmacist, fitness legend and athletic visionary, Johnny was inspired to a life dedicated to health, well being and healing from a very young age.
Inspired by his father, a marathon runner, Johnny continued to develop himself as an athlete under the guidance of neighbor and five-time Mr. Universe, Reg Park. By 1974 he was a nationally ranked competitive swimmer. Shortly thereafter, Johnny embarked on his first ultra-distance, 500-mile bicycle ride across South Africa with the goal of raising money to buy schoolbooks for the disenfranchised children of apartheid.
A Shotokan Black Belt, Johnny was able to share his passion for fitness with military recruits as a physical education instructor in the South African Army. With his tour of duty complete, Johnny traveled on holiday to the United States in 1980, but he decided to stay permanently after beginning a career working in the first full-membership club chain in California, managing a staff of over 30 people.
But it was Johnny’s love of competitive athletics that drew him to the sport of triathlon, competing at the Half Ironman and Ironman levels. It quickly became apparent that his natural abilities in triathlon flourished on the bike.
In 1984, Johnny opened the first Triathlon Nutrition and Training center, training and fueling world-class triathletes alongside famous Hollywood elite.
By 1985, Johnny returned to racing by competing in his first 500-mile professional bike race, The Spenco 500, in Texas. His love of the sport led him to the ultimate test of endurance athletics entering the Race Across America (RAAM) in both 1987 and 1989, qualifying with distinction and setting a time record in 1988 in the RAAM Open West.
It was during his preparation for RAAM1989, that Johnny began to have concerns about the hundreds of hours of training time required for the upcoming race – his wife was expecting, so he was naturally concerned about the time he’d have to spend away from home. Proving that necessity is indeed the mother of invention, Johnny tapped into his innate creativity and his potent love for innovation by hand-making a stationary bicycle that could be robust enough to simulate the rigors of riding on the road while also allowing him to be at home. This bike would become an essential tool for developing the biomechanical infrastructure and cardiovascular endurance essential for an ultra distance cyclist: allowing the rider to sit and stand for long periods of time. This bike would evolve to be the Johnny G Spinner®, the first indoor cycling bike and Spinning, the original, and still the gold standard of indoor cycling programs in the world.
Johnny hand-built several bikes, and began teaching classes out of his garage for his clients and friends. The demand quickly outgrew his small space so he opened the first Spin Centre in 1990, in Santa Monica, CA, quickly followed by the second at Voigt Fitness in Hollywood, CA. The popularity of this fun and effective fitness phenomena continued to spread to the point that Johnny was able to open the Spinning World headquarters in 1994, with a fleet of 40 Johnny G Spinner prototypes built by Schwinn.
In 1995, Johnny introduced Spinning to the world at IHRSA in San Francisco, CA. The program spread like wildfire! And Mad Dogg Athletics was born.
In 2000, the rights to produce the Johnny G Spinner were sold to Star Trac.
Over the next several years, Johnny traveled hundreds of thousands of miles across dozens of countries, bringing Spinning to new parts of the world. He lead countless specialty camps, 12-hour rides and certification workshops.
In 2003, he contracted a virus in his heart that led to a debilitating cardio myopathy. Diagnosed with heart failure, he was placed on the recipient list awaiting a heart transplant. Using innovative therapies and treatments under the supervision of his medical team Johnny was able start on the path to healing. During this challenging time, Johnny studied recovery using many special formulas.
In 2006, inspired by a 14-year-old hand cyclist during a fund raising event at the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s San Diego Triathlon Challenge, Johnny hand built a stationary hand cycle designed to train the upper body and develop the cardiovascular system. By 2008, Johnny partnered with Matrix Fitness Systems, and his second innovative contribution to the fitness world, Kranking®, was born.
Johnny currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife, Jodi, and their three children, and continues to explore the possibilities of health and well-being with new and innovative products and ideas.