Spin Cycle

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This post has nothing to do with kids or parenting. It’s about something that I actually find much more tedious and difficult… exercise. 

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My experience with Spin all started a few years ago when a (now close) friend started mentioning the “Tabata” spin classes she was loving. She is a crazy workoutaholic so I always made tons of fun of her for all of her various gym programs/group classes and also because who the hell ever heard of Tabata?

I was familiar with the spin craze of course; living in NYC in the early ‘aughts (you know that means the years between 2000-2010, right? Did I sound smart for using that term?), you couldn’t avoid the spin hype. The studios were as ubiquitous as Seattle-based coffee cafes. (Just guess which type of business I frequented more often.)

SoulCycle, Flywheel, and other indoor cycling studios (who all seemed to follow the “aspirational-word + bike-related word” naming formula), were popping up all over the city… but it was not something I was ever tempted to try. Mostly because there is NO exercise that I am ever tempted to try.

After we moved to the suburbs and my kids were in preschool, I met the aforementioned workoutaholic friend and after many months of my mocking her “Tabata habit” and of her encouraging me to try spinning, I FINALLY agreed to take my first class at a local studio called JoyRide.

The very next day, my friend sent me a two-page email explaining all the lingo, positions, bike set-up info, etc. and I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.

But I went anyway.

By the end of the class, my feet were numb, my whole lady-parts region hurt like holy hell, I couldn’t breath and I had almost thrown up six separate times. I was so far out of my comfort zone that the time had changed. And I loved it.

Well, I loved that I had done it. Like most of my experience with exercise, I loved it when it was over.

So why is spinning better than other forms of torture, like say, running, or Pilates? Well, first of all, it’s dark. Dark is good. Dark means I can’t see anyone, no one can see me and most importantly, I can’t see myself in the giant mirror at the front of the room. And second, the music is loud. Loud is good because it’s distracting and because no one can hear me gasping for breath. I think. I hope.

I got addicted to spinning, started going 4-5 times a week and thought, “Check me out, I’m an exerciser!”

And despite the fact that after about a year and a half, I got burnt out and took a few (ahem, eight) months off, I’m back now with a more balanced schedule and still love/hate going.

Let me walk you through MY experience of a spin class. It actually starts long before the class itself.

Sunday: The schedule becomes available for booking. I usually ignore the email knowing that if I wait long enough, many classes will fill up.

Side note: My IDEAL situation is when I get put on a wait list for a class, but never make it in. I feel like that totally counts as taking the class because it’s not my fault I didn’t get in. It’s best case scenario. (Worst case: you get the email shortly before the class starts saying, “Great news! You’ve made it off the wait list!” I hate that… my mind has already scheduled something else for that hour, usually involving baked goods and then I have to either bail and feel guilty or actually go and feel like I’m dying. Tough choice.)

Sunday/Monday: I sign up for 2-3 classes (and I actually show up for about half of them).

48 hours before the class: I start to dread it. I think of EVERY excuse in the book to try to avoid it – what if the school nurse is trying to reach me… all of my workout clothes are dirty… I should probably spend some time deleting junk mail… the potential excuse list goes on and on. Oh and if someone should just happen to invite me to have coffee at that time, I take it as a sign from God that I was just not meant to spin that day. Can’t argue with God.

Needless to say, it takes everything I’ve got to get myself there.

But sometimes I go.

I arrive at the studio, wearing yoga pants and a loose shirt. Because that’s what I wear to do ANY kind of workout. And I don’t even do yoga. I am usually the only person in the studio not wearing tight everything but tight’s not how I roll, so I’m good. The first few times I went, I was a little nervous that my wide leg yoga pants would get stuck in the bike wheel, causing me to jam my knee, fall off the bike, hit my head and end up with a concussion. But then I realized that THAT would be the PERFECT excuse to skip exercising for a while, so now I kind of always hope that happens.

As I wait for my class to begin, I feel extremely jealous of the sweaty people walking out from the previous class because they are done with the torture for the day and I’ve yet to begin. As I watch them leave, I get the vibe that most of them are even heading to Starbucks, so then I kind of hate them, too.

I change into my spin shoes, which I purchased because someone assured me that the classes would actually be much easier if I wore the specially-designed clip shoes. EASIER THAN WHAT? Walking through fire? You know what would REALLY be easier? NOT GOING TO SPIN CLASS.

OK, sorry.

So I’ve got my special shoes on, my water bottle is full, my yoga pant bottoms are flapping and I grab a towel, which would need to be beach-size to adequately contain the amount of sweat it’s about to absorb.

Time to head into the studio and find my bike.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about bike selection. Here are my criteria for the perfect bike:

  • Be as far away from the instructor as possible.
  • Be within the direct path of the breeze from one of the big oscillating fans. If I’m NOT feeling that breeze, then I AM passing out. It’s that simple.
  • Be 100% unable to see myself in the giant wall mirror behind the instructor. On those rare moments when they turn the lights up a little bit, I do NOT want to be catching glimpses of myself sweating profusely and gasping for breath.

So I find my bike, adjust the seat for minimum pain infliction and climb on.

The instructor… wait. This is probably the right time to mention that the instructors for the classes I usually take also happen to be good friends of mine. Meaning, in real life, I love them. But in that room, I sort of hate them. This is nothing that I don’t say to their faces, so we’re cool.

So the friend instructor starts with a “warm-up” song which usually lasts like 18 minutes and includes ALL the spin moves like first position and loops and jumps and second and figure 8s and core and third and hills and sprints and … I want to die.

Then she says something annoying like, “OK awesome! Now we’re all warmed up and ready to start, right?!?” and the class whoops and hollers and cheers and I really WANT to yell, “WARM-UP? Are you effing kidding me?” but I can’t catch my breath enough to say anything.

Then the class “officially” starts (whatever) and well, torture and hell and yada, yada, yada. AND it gets even hellier when I realize that I’m apparently the only one that is suppressing anger and hatred towards my friend instructor.

Every one else is “WooHoo”ing as if someone just brought in a pitcher of Margaritas. (For the record, that NEVER happens. Nobody EVER brings a pitcher of Margaritas into the spin room. Would that be so hard Spin management? Rocks/salt. Just saying.)

If people could hear all the thoughts in my head during the class, I probably wouldn’t be allowed back. Hell, I might be arrested. It’s not unusual for me to think such things as, “I wish one of these bikes would spontaneously combust and catch on fire so we would have to evacuate.”

 

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Here’s some insight into what goes on in my brain during that 50 minutes:

Friend Instructor says: How you guys doing out there!
Everyone else: WOOHOO! Awesome!
Me: Like I’m going to DIE, thanks for asking. (In my head. Can’t breathe.)

Friend Instructor: You guys look AMAZING!
Everyone else: WOOHOO!
Me: That’s an enormous lie. (In my head. Dying.)

Friend Instructor: Let’s get on the beat now… 1-2, 1-2, 1-2!
Everyone else: WOOHOO!
Me: On the beat? Are you kidding? F-U, F-U, F-U! (In my hea… you get it.)

I just don’t understand why everyone is so HAPPY in there? Why are they CHEERING? How can they BREATHE??

So after what feels like four hours, friend instructor announces “You’re done! You guys did it! Amazing job!”

But guess what… it’s another LIE.

Because then she says, “So pick up your weights… we’re going to do some quick arms. Get your elbows up and lift, lift, lift…” At this point, the friend instructor gets off the bike to demonstrate the arm workout in the front of the class.

Basically, she does various shoulder, bicep and tricep arm exercises with zero pauses for about six minutes, or 6,429 reps whichever comes first. My shoulders start to vibrate and ache about five reps in so you can see how THIS is going down.

I power through as many as I can (eight) and then I do what I’m sure everyone else is doing… I wait until the friend instructor looks the other way and then I rest. I’m SURE she has no idea that I’m doing about 1/3 of the reps she’s doing! HAHA!*

*My instructor friends have assured me that they do, in fact, know that I’m doing about 1/3 of the reps that they’re doing. That’s annoying.

At some point, the torture ends.

WITHOUT A DOUBT, MY FAVORITE PART OF ANY DAY THAT I SPIN IS THAT MOMENT WHEN THE FRIEND INSTRUCTOR SAYS, “YOU DID IT! YOU’RE DONE.” It’s like I’ve been released from a prison where everyone except me is bummed to be leaving. So weird.

Approximately five minutes after I leave, I start to feel awesome and healthy and happy. So I sign up again… and start to dread it immediately. And then I love it.

The cycle continues (pun very much intended).

Ride on, people. But you don’t have to be so freaking happy about it.

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Come on now. 

 

 


*I feel compelled to add, for my local friends, that this post (obviously) exaggerates the truth except the part about how much I hate exercise and the parts where I describe how I feel like I’m dying during class and how happy I feel when it’s over and… so OK, maybe there is a lot of truth here. But in reality, JoyRide is an amazing place. The owners have created a warm, welcoming environment and the instructors are nothing short of supportive, motivating and inspiring… which I do appreciate when I’m not too busy trying not to die. 🙂

 

9 responses »

  1. You left out the fact that you even drag vacationing friends to spin class. I drink out of my JoyRide water bottle all the time–that counts as much as actually doing a class, right? (Full disclosure: I LOVED the class; its awesomeness made me consider moving to CT.)

      • Don’t be so sure about that. Our plan to live in “up up” and be your live-in health care provider and tutor is always on our “valid back-up plan” list.

  2. I love this!! As a recent spin addict. And so happy you’re doing it……and i have no effin idea why you’d take an ENTIRE TABATA class…..I can barely get through the 5 minute interval of tabata’s in the class after mountains and climbs and ups and downs. XOXO GO YOU….continue to crush it.

  3. I hear your pain Kris. Just sitting on one of those bikes is painful!! Good for you at least your trying!

  4. Yea, I’m impressed by how often you do it! One and a half tries was enough for me. (The “half” was that time in Florida when I left after the warm up). Great job Kris!

  5. So…after all these years I now know what “Spin” was! I always thought you were taking old-school DJ lessons with a turntable, vinyl, and big-ass headphones. It was always confusing to me that you were coming home sweaty, but then I always just thought that you were really into it.

    Best part of the post “As I watch them leave, I get the vibe that most of them are even heading to Starbucks, so then I kind of hate them, too.”

    Oh yeah, and if you think that your ‘lady parts’ hurt, imagine what it is to be a guy (an out of shape one taboot) trying to do it for the first time.

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