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Spin

by on April 24, 2013

Although I’ve mentioned indoor cycling before, I thought I’d dedicate my ‘S’ to one of my favorite activities.

Several years ago, my workout plan consisted of jogging whenever I was required to show up to PT formations in the Air Force. I had a friend who was working out a little more frequently, and yet he was still kind of chunky like me. But he could run so much faster than me, and I couldn’t understand how he was doing it.

I asked, and he told me about Spin. “Sit on a bike for an hour going nowhere?” I laughed. “Not for me.”

Sounds boring. Too easy. Not worth my time.

Still, the results spoke for themselves, and I gave it a shot.

I walked into the mirrored room full of stationary bikes and excited riders, and I hopped on. The instructor was a rail-thin guy who seemed quiet and calm. He talked us through the initial set-up and basic instructions. Then we got started, and he transformed into the merciless fitness god of my shattered world, demanding harder work and growling out “push yourself” in between cues for each activity.

I got destroyed.

And yet I came back for more. I started learning the different quirks of the instructor cadre at the gym, and I saw the results as I attended regularly. I also got to know some of the more vocal or interesting riders, from the peppy ladies who instructed other group classes and used Spin as their personal workout, to the guy in his 60s who would use an hour-long session as the warm-up for his 100KM Saturday ride.

The camaraderie and the muscular devastation were enough to get me to sign up for the classes to become an instructor. Shortly after that, I got hired on with the gym and started running classes. I got to exercise, and I got to help others do the same. Perhaps it’s selfish, but it’s very nice to be paid for working out.

What’s so great about indoor cycling? Here’s what I loved about it:

  • You control your workout. You have the resistance knob and you determine how hard you work. It’s all on you. When the instructor says “Add a bit,” you determine what that bit is. For me, I always used a heart-rate monitor to figure out how hard I was working, so I would know how much “bit” I needed to get a good workout.
  • It’s a long ride minus all the flat road. I don’t have the money to spend on an expensive road bike, and I don’t have the time for hours of riding. (Ok, I could spend my XBox game money on a bike, and I could make time for riding. But no.) I don’t need that with Spinning. The class takes all the hard work of the rolling hills, the sprints, and the steep inclines, with a few short “flat roads” in between.
  • The people are fantastic. Like any group, I’m sure there are bad apples, but for the most part, the fellow indoor cyclists I’ve known have been wonderful, outgoing people. When a group has good energy and vocal members, it’s easy to get carried along and join the fun.
  • Did I mention muscular devastation? If you’re doing it right, you’re going to feel that spin class the next day(s).

If you’ve never tried an indoor cycling class, I’d suggest finding one and giving it a shot. But a word to the wise first: Maybe bring a gel seat or look for ones provided by the gym staff.

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