If it’s up to me, I’d rather ride. But when the weather turns sour, an alternative is called for.
Two weekends ago, Saturday morning dawned with a downpour. I wasn’t going to be able to get out on the bike at all. But my wife recently joined a high-end fitness club, and she invited me to use one of her guest passes to come to a spinning class.
I wanted to see the inside of the club, so I agreed. Quite the place. I got a locker in a very posh locker room, and changed into cycling shorts and a jersey. Most spinners wear padded cycling shorts – something I didn’t know. The “spinning studio” is on an upstairs level, with dark wood floors and subdued lighting. The instructor recognized that I was not a regular, and came over to make sure I fitted the “bike” correctly.
A spinning bike is not like the exercycles you might find in the same workout room as the stairclimbers. These put you in a riding position closer to what you would find on a road bike. You can increase and decrease resistance by turning a knob, if you want to create the sense that you’re climbing hills.
The room filled quickly. Of the 40 bikes, about 35 were taken. An older gentleman in full team kit took the bike next to mine, and started spinning slowly. The instructor encouraged everyone to spin easily, to warm up before class.
My wife made it a point to get me two earplugs. She said I’d need them when class began. As usual, she was right. The instructor plugged her iPod into the sound system next to her bike, and cranked it up. Throbbing techno music blasted from speakers throughout the room. The sound was so clear, I had to check several times to make sure my earplugs were actually holding.
The instructor said she was going to tax our anaerobic thresholds, and leave us gasping. We started pedaling faster. I was sweating in no time. She told us to back off, spin easily for a minute, then she hammered down. We cranked up the resistance, we stood up on the pedals. The gentleman who had started slowly next to me was pumping like crazy – going faster than the pace the instructor set. I plopped back into my saddle. “Don’t you dare back off!” she yelled, pointing at me.
That’s pretty much how the rest of the session went. A series of mad dashes and gasping easy periods. When it was over, I was soaked through. We sprayed disinfectant on the bikes and toweled them off. It wasn’t biking, but I thought it would be a useful substitute if the weather failed to cooperate in the future.
Downstairs, I spent ten minutes in the steam room, followed by a cold shower – then a Mediterranean breakfast in the club’s cafe. I suppose fitness clubs do have something to offer. I’ll have to have my wife get more guest passes.