Last Saturday, I somehow found myself at a spinning class. It was one of those Fridays the day before, when I, being the party animal that I am, ended up in bed before 10pm. That, of course, meant that I was up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5am. Bless the 7 hour sleep cycle – like clock work.
I couldn’t really fathom doing weights with sun already up (I only do weights when it’s dark out – go figure), so 7.30am spinning class it was.
In the change room, I start chatting with another woman, heading to the spin studio. She is what I call a semi pro spinner – doing spinning religiously at least three times a week, always at the same days of the week and the same time slots.
She asks if I spin as well. I smile and I explain that the last time I did spinning was oh, about a year ago. In fact, once a year seems to be about the right frequency that I can handle spinning at. Kind of like Iyengar yoga.
For every woman out there who’s ever said or thought anything negative about the size of her thighs, I have an awesome tip today. [Tip of the day #1!]
Biking shorts! First of all, I am actually kind of amazed at the fact that I even own a pair of biking shorts. But this piece of clothing can do wonders for your thigh self-esteem. How, you ask?
Well, all you have to do is put a pair on. And then… take them off. Does wonders, I tell ya!
You see, biking shorts are universally unflattering. It’s’ gotta be the ugliest piece of fitness clothing that I own. They cut the leg in exactly the wrong spot, making your thighs appear twice as large. They sit high up on your waist, creating a muffin top where there isn’t one. Oh, and don’t forget the titillating feeling of wearing a maxi pad between your legs. Flashback to the 90s.
So slip those babies on. Glance in the mirror.
Then take them off. And glance in the mirror again. Presto! Slimmer thighs.
As I walk into the studio, every bike, but one is taken, so I throw my towel over. This is definitely an established group – people know each other. Someone asks someone else about their kids. Dinner stories from last night are shared.
A woman on a bike next to me is eyeing me suspiciously. Any sort of arm definition makes you stick out in this room like a sore thumb. I start feeling slightly self-conscious – similar to how I feel attending a track workout or a ballet class (if that ever happened).
You can pinpoint two groups of regulars – roadies and spinsters (yes, I’m using that word).
Roadies would clearly much rather be on the road, but have to make do for the next couple of months, as the roads are covered in ice. Yet, they are in a full get up. Biking shorts, biking shirts, biking shoes, biking bottles. In fact, I’m a little surprised they are not wearing helmets.
Spinsters are regular gym goers, who made spinning classes part of their routine. Some of them have never been on a bike. They do spinning for spinning’s sake, and, of course, cardiovascular benefits’ sake. Men are sporting old cotton t-shirts and track pants, while women are sporting Lululemon from head to toe, and bright running shoes.
So, those two groups, and me. [Check out this awesome blog post for more types of indoor cyclists.]
As I start adjusting the seat, the Suspicious Woman looks over, and starts giving instructions. “You just have to undo that bolt there”. I sigh imperceptibly.
“Yeah, like that!”
“And now, turn and pull.”
I’m fighting irritation and an overwhelming urge to point out that, while I may not look it, yes, I have done this before. Coffee, anyone?
Finally, the bike is adjusted, and I get on and start pedalling, but I am not off the hook yet. “So… have you registered for this class?”, the Suspicious Woman inquires. My insecurity gets the better of me, as I snap: “Do I really look THAT out of place here?”. “Oh, no no!”, she looks startled. I do not hear from her for the rest of the class.
“Well played, Solo”, I think to myself. “Next time, we’ll just bite her on the arm or something”.
The instructor is few minutes late. She finally runs in, throws her bag down, turns on the music, and turns off the lights. Someone has to explain the whole lights off thing. Is that a thing? We start spinning faster.
Finally, the instructor gets on her bike, and off we go. I have no idea what is happening for the next 50 minutes. Which is probably why it seems like this class is much much longer.
Turn the wheel to the right!
Half a turn!
Up for 10!
Up for 10!
Up for 7!
“7?”, I think to myself. “Why 7?”
About twenty minutes in, my Suunto turns off in protest. Even less perception of time. I think this class will never end.
Up for 2!
Ok, I’m confused.
Stay down. We are here for 30. Quarter of a turn to the right.
“For 10”, I think.
Up for 20! Am I imagining this or did the instructor just flash me an evil smile?
Stay here. Stay here.
And now forward.
I have no freaking clue what’s going on. The funny thing is that I am 100% sure that there is a pattern to the seemingly random numbers and positions that the instructor is calling out. It’s just that I cannot figure out what that pattern is for the life of me.
Although Wikipedia suggests that while most instructors will lead what is called an interval ride, where students will sprint, run, climb, and jump all in the same ride, there will not be definable pattern to the exercises.
Great. That sounds like my favourite thing ever – a workout with no structure. No rhyme or reason. Relax into the chaos.
“For 10?”, I think hopefully.
The instructor seems to enjoy this.
“Of course, why would it be for 10? That would be way too fucking predictable.”
How are you feeling? hollers the instructor.
The class whoops and yeehaws. The Semi Pro Spinner is dripping with sweat. In fact, she’s been racing Semi Pro Spinner #2, who is sitting right across from her. During the speed intervals, these two lock eyes, and try to outspin each other.
People are so interesting.
I’m bored. With no understanding of what’s coming or how much time is left, I can’t exert myself appropriately.
And now push!
“Push for how long?” I wonder, annoyed. A 10-second all out push is very different from a 60-second all out push. So…. which push is it?
A guy two bikes away from me is chewing gum.
Tip of the day #2 – Would you like to improve your results in the gym? Get rid of your fucking gum.
Tip of the day #3– if you are doing intervals and are still able to chew gum, you are not working hard enough.
Another intense interval.
Then, all of a sudden, music is off, and people start getting off the bikes.
In the change room, the Semi Pro Spinner is smiling blissfully. “So how was it?”, she asks.
“I think I’m good for another year”, I grumble.
YOUR TURN: Have you ever tried a spinning class? How did it go? Are you a semi pro spinner? A spinster? A roadie?