Spin Class

Before I begin, I must admit that spin and I are not exactly on good terms.

On our first ever encounter, I was hungover. I had ambitiously arranged a 7am date, believing I could power through on four hours of sleep. I soon discovered I was wrong.

The instructor was not sympathetic. She relentlessly told us to turn it up, which is exactly what I pretended to do. With our legs flying around at a frankly ridiculous speed, she ordered us to take off from our seats. I had not anticipated how my body would react. One leg stopped pedalling whilst the other snapped out of the cleat and orbited off to the right.

After that, I was told to sit down. Another fifteen gruelling minutes of pretending to turn up the dial, I was encouraged to get off my bike altogether. It was finally over. I began thinking that it wasn’t so bad. However, as the instructor approached, I realised I was the only one who was unclipped. She stood beside me, then pointed to the floor. “You’ve gone green. Sit on the floor with your legs above your head. Come on!”

It was a humiliating end to my first session. Even worse, a full two years afterwards, I had graduated and was serving students in the local Co-Op. It was a busy shift and I was clearing the queue single-handedly. I was vaguely aware of someone staring at me, but reasoned it was probably just the crowd willing me to work faster. When a young guy reached the front, he exclaimed, “I knew it! You’re the girl from the spin class who nearly fainted!”

I returned to a spin class today after an eight year hiatus. During the interim, I had two more knee surgeries but I had also done some extensive road cycling, so overall I was feeling more prepared. In a wave of madness, my friend and I had signed up for the 7am class before seeing sense and switching to a 12:30pm slot. My friend, who was a regular, had booked a bike on the front row. I had reserved the neighbouring bike. This was my first mistake.

The instructor was welcoming and helped me set up my bike, moving my seat all the way down. She showed me how to adjust the resistance and the various holds on the handlebars. There were two 1kg weights in the pocket which I swapped for 2kg. After all, I lift 10kg per arm in the gym. This was my second mistake.

As soon as we started, she turned off the lights. I inwardly cursed. How could I see what I was doing now? Despite this, it started well enough. There were some moves to learn such as the head banger, the elbows out, the quick twerk, the bum bop, the hiphop shoulder drops and the fun box slides. Of course, these are not the real names, but I was concentrating so hard on keeping up with everyone I have completely forgotten them.

The instructor was motivating, calling on the themes of the wolf pack. She told us to run together (even though we were technically cycling), push on as a pack and to make ourselves proud. I am ashamed to say I gave up a fair bit. I was the old scraggly wolf they abandon in the woods. It was particularly painful given that I was dead centre and at the front, directly opposite the instructor’s bike. Every time I sat down (90% of the class was done off the saddle), I knew everyone else could see.

The second song was faster. We were told to pedal double speed. My legs were a blur and my hips were struggling to stay attached. Then up. I must have instinctively slowed as the momentum of my spin threw my leg out. My feet took it in turns to unclip each time I tried to recover. I was frantically shoving my shoes back in whilst also being secretly glad of the rest.

In the dark, I tried to read my watch to no avail. Then, during a punishing up/down blitz where the lights flashed on, I realised two things. One, it was only thirty minutes in. We still had twenty to go. Two, my face was magenta and my shorts were dangerously high. I prayed the lights would go out again.

Then came the break. This was perhaps the most disappointing section for me, since there was no resting at all. With our arms out before us holding our weights, we pedalled slowly as we pumped and raised our arms up, down and out. With all the push ups we had done my arms were jellified. The instructor swiftly replaced my 2kg with 1kg and laughed at my former bravado.

Next, we locked in our feet and did crunches, twists and full sit ups. I will admit I spent most of this time trying to keep down a flat white I had enjoyed earlier. My facial grimaces were not enough of an excuse. The instructor cheerily reminded us that we were doing it for ourselves and not her.

The final fifteen minutes went by quickly, perhaps because I was deliriously tired at this point. My heart was skipping, I struggled to keep breathing and my legs were shaking. The pace had increased and we were expected to throw in all the moves, including one where we bounced through all the handhelds. Given my coordination, I got it right one set out of twelve.

The end came at last, and we locked one leg to stretch the other across our handlebars. Straight at first, then awkwardly (for me at least) bent across to the opposite side. As the lights came up, I felt a little embarrassed at my performance, especially as my friend had owned it. However, the instructor was very sweet and said that the first time is always difficult. In return, I replied, “Thank you for the class, I nearly puked!”

I booked a special introductory deal where I get a second lesson included. Wish me luck!

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