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After Hours: Roland Walker Brings Different Spin to Being Off-Duty

A State Park police officer for 29 years, he cranks up the music and lets loose as a fitness instructor.

The high-energy, enthusiasm and excitement Roland Walker brings to the spin classes he leads through out the East End may not be what you'd expect from a 29-year veteran New York State Park police officer.

He's much less drill sergeant and more motivating coach. An aerobics turned spin instructor, Walker bring his A-game to every class, pushing riders with a constant flow of encouragement, which often includes high-pitched sounds and brief dancing, not to mention an array of untraditional music he mixes himself like Barry White's "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby" and Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" throughout the 45-minutes classes.

On the job, patrolling Montauk and Wildwood parks, he's more serious and stern, but in the spin studio, his true personality shines. "I'm a different person there. I know how to separate the two," he said.

Walker, a Riverhead resident who grew up in Bridgehampton, has ties across the East End, currently teaching at four places; in East Quogue, where he has been for 17 years, in Amagansett, in Mattituck, and High Gear in Westhampton.

His road to becoming a fitness instructor had a lot to do with having become a police officer. "When I got on the job, I blew up during the first two years," he said. By the late 1980s, he weighed as much as 240 pounds. He shed 20 pounds or so, but at 6'1", he wanted to make a real change and change his body.

He joined the Riverhead Fitness Center and tried step classes, which he continued at the East Quogue gym that later became Sportime. He took up aerobics too, and instructors soon encouraged him to teach. "I had so much energy. Anytime I took a class, I brought the class to another energy level," he said.

But, Walker said he wasn't totally convinced, but knowing he wouldn't have to pay for a membership if he did, he decided to try it. In 1995, he went for his first certification.

As he started to teach, word got out that his classes were energetic and well-attended. He ended up teaching at the American Fitness Factory (now the Sag Harbor Gym), the Omni (now the Southampton Gym) and Summer Kicks in East Hampton.

"In 1998, spinning came to Long Island. A year later, Sportime bought spin bikes," he said. A fellow instructor encouraged him to get certified to teach spin, which he did in 2001. It took some time for him to gain a following. "People knew me for aerobics and step class. They didn't know me for spinning."

He eventually formulated a type of class that he feels works best — a spin, cycle, ride program. He said its less restrictive.

"My system works. I'm motivating and we're having fun. I like making people work hard and not even realize their working hard," he said, which he said is the greatest compliment.

In 2009, his clients were so upset that he had to take 10 days off from teaching to work as an officer at the US Open, that he promised he'd make it up to them with a "spin revival" for five straight days at 6 a.m.  His clients loved it so much, he did it again the following two years with it growing each time.

This past June, he teamed up with one of his favorite clients, Michelle Papajohn, of East Quogue, to use the "spin revival" to raise money for brain cancer research, as Papajohn suffers from a benign tumor in her brain. They raised over $4,000.

Many police officers work side-jobs, but this married father of one said being a fitness class instructor while off-duty isn't about making extra money, but about his passion for it. "You've got to love it," he said. He earns between $45 and $150 per class.

Fellow officers are used to the fact that Walker is a spin instructor, though they are still surprised by his choice of music. Even his partner is surprised. "How do you play Barry White?"

"I'm the only one who could make that work," Walker said.

Know Roland Walker from his day job or from his spin classes? Tell us why you love him in the comments below.

Nancy St John September 14, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Roland Rocks!!
B September 14, 2012 at 07:32 PM
So glad to see somone finally writing an article about Roland!!! He has truely saved my life. Im a 28 year old woman who was an avid athlete in high school and really enjoy playing and watching sports. Ive always been one to be in and out of the gym never really finding my place. Earlier this year a friend of mine had told me about this energenic motivational spin instructor at Sportime in East Quogue. I work 2 jobs and was exhasuted on that Sunday morning when he was subbing a class. For whatever reason (God sent me my angel!) I decited to get up and try his class. Ive never looked back. I immediatly signed up to be a member and couldnt wait to get to his next class. He was so supportive and helpful as a new rider who had never attemped an indoor cycling class. He gave you the push without applying the pressure. The music was amazing, I actually had to look around to see if a DJ was in the room!!! I was hooked. I am hooked. I now honestly follow him all over the east end, trying to cordinate my schedule to his classes!! I just finished my first 5k last week and really owe my return to a healthy lifestyle to my CANDYMAN!!! An angel to all of us!!!
Heather September 14, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Roland's step classes were hella fun back in the day! He brings such positive energy to the room. Glad to know that he's still around and I can catch a spin class with him! I know once I go, I'll be addicted.
kathleen September 14, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Roland is an awesome person that brings joy to anyone that ever meet him. What you see is what you get and that's magic!
Joanne Kravitz September 14, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Roland was the one who turned me on to spin! His classes are motivating, energetic and full of love and "candy". Besides being an amazing instructor he's also an amazing person. I've learned so much from you and I'm proud to be an instructor with you at High Gear. Keep on bringing that candy!! xo
Heather Bester September 15, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Roland's attitude is so uplifting! I love his spin classes. He is the BEST! I enjoyed his other exercise classes way back when, but he rocks Spin! His music is so much fun - all different styles! Spin Revival is an awesome experience! Thanks Roland!
C Hook September 15, 2012 at 12:21 PM
"you know why you came!"
Sheryl-lyn Walz September 15, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I have known this family for almost 25 years since our two girls were best friends all through school. They are a beautiful family and full of love. This is a great article about a great man. Thank God we are paying attention to men like him and showing what a good example of a man looks like!
Nancy D. September 17, 2012 at 11:29 PM
My favorite is "it is your time to shine"! He is truly an inspiration to all!
pamela morrison September 20, 2012 at 01:22 PM
If you have never taken a Roland spin class, you are truly missing out. No matter how bad things are in your life, when you climb on a spin bike with Roland at the lead, everything falls away in a matter of minutes. The music, the room , the man himself gives off such an amazing vibe!! Love you Roland!! Truly the best, Pam M.
Dr. KJ Malone September 20, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Roland's spin class was my first spin class. I loved every minute of it. Roland's energy will take you through a spin class and have you yearning for more! Kudos to you, Roland, for getting the recognition that you deserve!

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