Thursday, July 14, 2011


The fantasy
Me: age 4

The reality



I went to spin class at the YMCA tonight. WOW. Not at all what I expected. One of my boot camp instructors teaches spin too, and she encouraged me and my workout buddy Michelle to come check it out. She assured us it was appropriate for ALL levels of fitness! Even beginners! 

This should have clued me in. 
  1. She could tell we were exercise amateurs. 
  2. Anything appropriate for "ALL fitness levels" is especially hard for newbies.
We showed up right on time to the small, full classroom. There were 12 bikes total, and since Michelle called at 6am to reserve our spot, there were still two available for us (right in the middle).

One of the men who arrived just before us was carrying a bike helmet. The instructor said, "I don't have room for you tonight Bill. Did you call to get your name on the list?"

"Yeah, I called," he said. "Seven a.m. They told me 'you're in!'" 

"Huh. Really." The instructor said without asking. "I didn't see your name on the list." She looked around the room. "Allison bailed so I guess there's space."

"If not, that's OK" Bill said, shrugging. "I guess I'll take a real ride instead." 

"Oooh," the other regular-attenders chimed in, "A real ride," they repeated, exaggerating his tone of superiority.

"And it would be an inferior workout!" he quickly added.

Nice recovery. Everyone laughed.

One woman opened the window nearest to her and turned on the free-standing fans (the building is OLD and not air conditioned). Each bike had a small sweat-towel on the handlebars. 

The teacher showed Michelle and I how to adjust the bikes for maximum pain effectiveness. Seat at hip level? Check. Pedal extended to keep foot directly below knee? Check. Handlebars a comfortable distance? Check. 

"You're ready!" She chirped.

Then she broke the news to us: "First timers usually feel like..." she hesitated, "like they want to die."


"OK, let's get started!" She shouted.

The woman next to Michelle leaned toward us and said, "Just keep in mind, she yells because she loves us."

We got on our bikes as the inspirational techno-perk soundtrack began. My seat seemed too tall. I tried to balance my weight. 

It was then I realized that the primary point of contact between my body and this equipment was my CROTCH. And the seat was shaped like a cake server. But with less cushion. There was no comfortable way to sit on such a surface. 

"Add some tension; we're biking on a flat surface."

Flat surface? Check.

I looked at the classmates ahead of me. They seemed to be in no discomfort. But the regular attenders were all serious athletes. Calf muscles rippled around us and I noticed a distinct lack of body fat on any of them. They had those hard-core biking shoes on. They wore T-shirts advertising local athletic events.

I looked at the clock: five minutes in. OUCH.

The forty-five minute class took us on a hill-infested ride. We slowly added tension, increased speed, stood up, pushed hard, sat back down (OUCH) and maintained our pace. The tiny room got HOT. I saw sweat fall from my head to the floor. My hair clung to the back of my neck. I breathed like a woman in labor. I watched my legs pump and enjoyed seeing them work (considerably slower than the rest of the class). It took a lot of concentration to keep going. 

During the "downhill" stretches, I let go of the handlebars, sat upright and drank from my water bottle. I really wanted to stand on solid ground. Standing on the pedals was a relief though, as circulation slowly returned. My (ahem) lady bits fell asleep. As did my toes and butt and a few fingers. Sharp tingling added a little distraction (OUCH).

I realized being on stationary bikes was a privilege. Under any other circumstances, I would never be able to keep up with these classmates. I watched the feet in front of me spin, blurring with speed. I was part of the pack. I was in the peloton

Finally, class was over. Michelle and I slowly dismounted our bikes, breathing hard, sweating profusely, and grinning through gritted teeth. We did it!

We stretched and guzzled water. 

Now its time to go soak in the bath. 

I may never walk normally again.


  1. Your six pack actually helps movements of your body between your chest and pelvic area. Now here are a couple of secrets to getting a six pack. Ahead of you even start the function out, you'll need to do some preparations for it.

  2. I love reading your exercise posts. I feel like I'm on the bike next to you, struggling and sweating right along with you!

  3. Hi Emily! I found a link to your site on Jamie's blog and I love reading your posts. I've been going to spinning 3 times a week for a while and I'd like to say that it DOES get easier! At first it's torture, but now I'm hooked. Even your butt gets used to the seat after a few classes! :)