And somehow I kept it together while he punched and bicycle-kicked alongside me.

Blake Bakkila
June 27, 2018

Is it too late now to say sorry for staring at Justin Bieber for almost an hour last Saturday? In my defense, it was difficult to avert my gaze—because the Biebs showed up in my all-time favorite workout class. You read that correctly: Of the approximately 45 people in my Rumble boxing class, the one and only Justin Bieber was positioned right in front of me.

It all happened so quickly. My roommate and I made a last-minute reservation at the popular studio’s flagship location in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, and I was sprinting to get there (I could dedicate an entire article to my thoughts on New York City’s weekend subway delays, trust me). I made it just in time, and then a man with a messy blonde ‘do was ushered in about 10 minutes into class after me.

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I started considering how this person managed to override the studio’s strict late arrival policy—and then it dawned on me.

No way, I remember thinking.

I tried gesturing toward my roommate, but he (along with the majority of the class) was doing the unthinkable: actually paying attention and participating in the workout. As I waited to get my friend to look over, I made sure that I was right. New hairdo that sort of matches the cut of rumored girlfriend Hailey Baldwin? Check. Tattoos, well, everywhere? Check. About the same height as me? Check.

At a certain point in my life, I probably would have identified myself as a “Belieber.” Now, after back-to-back nights in the nosebleed section for his Believe tour in 2012 and cramming into a packed Chicago club to get a glimpse of him in 2016, I finally had a front row seat to a live Justin Bieber performance. If only teenage Blake could see me now.

But back to my class. Here's what the workout involves: On one side of the room, participants do a series of HIIT and ab workouts, and on the other, we're supposed to punch a water-filled bag. With the Biebs in front of me during HIIT, I knew he would be close by for the punching portion of the class. As we moved to the bags side of the studio, the other twenty-somethings started to realize who the mystery blonde was.

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I should note that he did, in fact, complete the workout. He threw every punch and bicycle-kicked his way through the ab routine. He even let out an energetic scream, bopped along to Nicki Minaj’s “Chun Li,” and took off his hoodie midway through the class. When a remix of "Where Are Ü Now" came on, he didn’t even flinch.

When we were on the bags, my roommate and I felt a huge endorphin rush. (23-year-olds can still fangirl, right?) And while I tried to stay focused, I couldn’t help but check in on my fellow Rumbler.

I was more than tempted to ask for a photo. He was just inches away from me, but I couldn’t help wondering why he was there. Yes, he's been known to frequent the growing fitness powerhouse that is Rumble, but he was also pretty calculated. He showed up late, and at a time and place where no one had their phones on them and everyone was zoned in on the routine. That room provides a stress-relieving, heart-pumping 45 minutes unlike any other. And whether you’re an A-lister or Health assistant editor, everyone deserves the opportunity to punch with some privacy.