Getting back on the horse, er, bike

On September 25, 2007, I took my first spin class thanks to the advice of a nutritionist who thought I’d benefit from more intense workouts than I was getting on the elliptical. The thought of a spin class scared the crap out of me, but I decided to try it. I ended up loving it, and was very sad to stop it when a herniated disk (and back surgery) required me to cease my gym routine. Now I’ve been back at the gym for 6 weeks, and this week, I’m easing back into a biking routine with a goal of spinning again in March. To commemorate this new goal, I thought I’d publish my post-spin class reflection.

Exhilaration.

That is the word of the day. I blame it on spinning.

Last night was my first full spinning class. It was the most satisfying (yet painful) workout  I’ve ever done. Despite the sweat and tears (my towel was soaked by the end of class and my body felt like a bowl of Jello), I walked out of that room with a spring in my step. My goal was simply to complete the class. Considering three of my fellow spinners left mid-class, I was pretty satisfied with my own performance.

Before actually venturing into this new athletic prospect, I didn’t understand the lure, the addiction. So what? It’s biking. With a bunch of other people. In the dark. With loud music.

Except that it’s not.

In many ways, spinning feels very solitary. The darkness allows you to forget that there’s someone huffing and puffing beside you. That limits the competition you might feel when on the elliptical or treadmill. The darkness also allows you to forget that you’re in a small studio—you’re in the Alps competing in the Tour de France. Yup… I admit it. I felt like Lance Armstrong.

The music helps keep the pace, whether you’re simply cruising on flat land or climbing a steep hill. Forty-five minutes of continuous peddling, made more interesting with varying intensities, different resistance and multiple “positions.” For example, when we were climbing the mountains to Kid Rock’s “Badwitaba,” the resistance was high, and we stood as we peddled—backs flat and body poised over the handlebars. Tchaikovsky served as a relaxing cool down as we pedaled over flat land (low resistance, seated) and rehydrated. Christina Aguilera, the Pussycat Dolls and Pearl Jam served as the soundtrack for the rest of the ride. My water bottle was dry and my towel was soaked by the end of the class.

Having a trainer and the music leading the class sets the pace. I find that when I plan my own workouts—even something with varying intensities—my body knows exactly what to expect and therefore the workout is easier. With a trainer, you really don’t know what to expect. Each class is different, and the trainers come armed with various music mixes, deciding on the spot which one will guide the day’s ride.

Within 5 minutes, my heart rate was up and I was wiping beads of sweat off my face. After 20 minutes, I started looking for a clock. (Another benefit of biking in the dark—you can’t watch the clock.) During a 5 to 10 minute segment of sprints (sitting, pedaling as fast as possible for a count of four, followed by standing, pedaling as fast as possible for another count of four), I was feeling muscles I never knew existed. My legs were aching. My breathing was steady and deep. “Two more minutes!” shouted the trainer, above the sounds of Evanescence.

“No way!” I wondered. “Is this really almost over?” Perfect timing. My legs felt like they were about to give out.

After the time wound down she said, “Great job! Twenty more minutes!”

The entire class groaned, including the lady next to me.

I asked “Are all the instructors this torturous or did I just select the toughest class for my first one?” My biking neighbor said, “This is your first class!? You’re doing great. But, yeah, they’re ALL like this.”

Somehow, my body pulled it together, and I kept up. Even as my fellow bikers were slowing down, or sitting longer, I persisted. See, the funny thing about spinning is that it’s harder to bike in the standing positions, but it hurts more (my poor butt) to sit and spin. So… I stood when I needed to stand and sat only when I needed to sit. I prefer a burn in my thighs to a throbbing rear end any day of the week.

Upon completing the class, I felt like I succeeded. I didn’t just complete a 45 minute workout. I climbed the mountain. And that, my friends, is the addiction.  

 

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2 responses to “Getting back on the horse, er, bike

  1. I rather run for an hour than spin… my butt can’t handle it..

  2. LOL… and my butt doesn’t mind. But if I ran, the rest of my body would.

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