My nemesis, the cycle class

spin bikeIt’s one month and one week from my scheduled Tour de Cure charity bike ride and seven weeks from my scheduled half marathon. As I’d mentioned before, I need to get off my butt, not only for my fitness but for my sanity. But let’s face it: it’s hard. Daytime is a whirlwind of work and kid stuff, and now that I’m working in an office I can’t take an hour, scoot the desk chair out of the way and do Pilates with Gini. I have no energy or motivation for exercise after I’ve had dinner, and it’s really, really hard to sneak out of a hotel room in the early morning without waking the rest of the family.

But this week, I decided that I really needed to get up early, get out and do a class. Any class. Whatever worked with my schedule and would give me enough peer pressure guilt to complete a full hour without half-assing it.

Last week, I highlighted a bunch of options on the class calendar — I like Sabrina’s U-Jam class! Maybe I can do Crunch Time after school drop off! — and went to none of them. None. There were 9:00 calls that conflicted with Crunch, and I just don’t have the time to shower after a lunchtime class.


If I wanted to be back at the hotel, showered and ready to roll when The Assistant woke up, there was only one option: cycle class at 5:30.

I’d never taken a spin class before, so aside from wearing my bike shorts and bringing my bike shoes, I was as clueless and stupid as anyone who ever entered the room.

I was surrounded by perky blonde spinners who were terribly energetic and enthusiastic for 5:30 in the morning. Meanwhile, I didn’t know how to adjust the bike properly, and the bike computer wasn’t working. This combined for a very awkward and confusing morning.

But I wasn’t prepared for the start of class. Little did I know that the lights go down, the music goes up, and the instructor barks loudly over the hip-hop beats. “Climb! I want to see at least 85 RPM!” she’d yell, and I’d try to pace myself with the person next to me because I had no idea how fast 85 RPM was. And was I on the right resistance setting? I had no idea, but I also couldn’t see to adjust it in the semi-darkness.

It took me until midway through the class to realize that I was going at it much too hard. My resistance had been set high to start with (I didn’t know enough to know that) which meant that I was pushing harder than I should have been, especially as a newbie; by mid-class I had to back off and reduce my heart rate to avoid flat out bonking before the end of the hour.

I made it through, sweating buckets, with my butt as saddle sore as it’s ever been. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would go to this class of their own volition. But as I told this story, several people insisted that I couldn’t make the assessment based on one class: it takes three or four tries to really get into it.

Yesterday, I reluctantly dragged myself to the gym and discovered a whole new experience. Thursday’s class was nearly empty: just me and eight retired guys. The music was mostly remixes of classic rock, kept at a reasonable volume so the instructor didn’t have to yell. The lights were on. She began the class with a walkthrough of how to adjust the bikes, not just to explain how it worked, but also how to modify the position to eliminate various aches and pains. This was much more my style. I was already hurting from Tuesday’s session, but because I didn’t feel a hypercompetitive vibe I got a solid workout that didn’t hurt more.

So what will I do going forward? I would consider the Thursday class again. It’s much more mellow, and more my style. But of course I need more than one workout and a long run per week. I’m not sure what else I can add to the schedule that will give me a comparable push without the sensory overload.

I’m just happy to have sore muscles and feel like I’ve actually done something this week.

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One Response

  1. I’m glad you had a better experience the second time! I was always too intimidated to try spin until an experienced friend offered to go with me. I guess I was lucky to get the instructor I did to start out with. One thing I really like about it is that because we can set the resistance to different levels, the instructor appears to be working just as hard as I am. That feels better than the classes where the instructor is clearly breezing through what’s really hard for me.

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