So I started a spinning class about a month ago. Fat and sassy from a winter recess spent eating chopped pecan cookies, and flushed with shiny New Year’s resolutions, I walked the half block to the Cycle/Yoga gym in my neighborhood and signed up for 10 classes. In all honesty, it wasn’t the first time I had started a spinning class. I had taken a free demo class three years before when the gym first opened. And that had been one of the most brutal physical wake up calls I had ever experienced. I practically crawled out of the gym after that class.
When I walked into the gym this time, I knew what I was getting into, but this time, I was determined to overcome the lassitudes of my pudgy 54-year-old legs and make them and myself proud.
The first class was predictably disastrous. I had to ask for help setting up my bike. I really abhor being the novice at anything; it always has been so uncomfortable for me. The lean and sinewy trainer with the matchstick arms and iron legs at the front of the class looked like she could be doing the routine in her sleep – it looked so easy for her – I hated her. She was hard and didn’t understand how hard it was for me. (Pouting emoticon)
This is what I now know and it only took me a month to figure this all out – mostly due to the kindness of the subsequent instructor who’s class I found and have been attending three times a week:
1) Use your core – this means you shouldn’t slump your shoulders and heave your body forward and backward by using your arms to pull you to the handlebars.
2) Zero out the resistance before you start the work out. This may seem ridiculously obvious to you if you have done spinning before, but I discovered (in week 3) that when I did that, I could actually move my legs in rhythm with the music rather than once for every two revolutions of the rest of the cyclers.
3) Bring the biggest bottle of water you can carry and drink it.
4) When the instructor says “Tap it up,” do it. Otherwise, you are cheating yourself. And keep going to the end of the song. And then to the end of the next song. And the next. Because it is only 45 minutes and anything is bearable for 45 minutes. When I’m struggling, I imagine myself walking out the door of the gym and into the sunshine, exhausted and happy that I started my day that way.
In one of my classes two weeks ago, before I had actually made it through the class without sitting down and crying, I found myself sandwiched between two identical twin blond sisters. I had gone to “my” bike, set myself up, when the Doublemint Twins came in and chose the bikes on either side of me. Incredibly slim, the the two of them would have fit into one leg of my six-year-old Addidas workout pants. That was okay. I didn’t have any problem with company – in fact, I was excited to have someone better than me cycling on either side. But half way through the workout, sometime after the hill and before the final jumps, I gasped to the twin on my right, “You girls are killing me.” She shot me a dirty look; I guess I breached some unwritten rule about not talking to someone else during the class. Suitably chastised, I returned to my own misery.
This morning, they were back, and I selected a bike behind them and to the left. What I saw during the class made me feel so much better. The sister on the left (was it the same girl who had been on the left last time?) wasn’t touching the little red knob on the bike. “Tap it up” elicited nothing more than hummingbird-speed cycling. No wonder she could move her legs so fast! She was at the base level of resistance! I can’t tell you how this cheered me on to the finish line. That and the fact that they both got off their bikes and walked out without wiping them down. No longer the novice, I celebrated their ignorance about the protocols as I cleaned off my bike.