Wednesday, February 06, 2013

I wanted to do cycle spin classes for a long time, but I was afraid they would be too difficult for me. I finally got up my nerve and started last summer. Now I just love it. Cycle spin is a terrific workout, I really sweat like crazy, and my heart rate goes up nicely. At the same time, it’s easy on the joints. My butt hurt for the first four sessions, even with the padded bike shorts, but after that it quit bothering me. There are all ages, sizes and shapes of people doing cycle spin. Don’t think you have to be a super athlete to spin. If you want a good, fun workout, give it a try.

Of course, like any fitness class, the instructor makes a big difference.

My Tuesday night cycle spin instructor is Zack. He's a well-muscled, not too tall, blond guy. He's pretty easy on the eyes, in an innocent kind of way.

Zack is a little bit OCD as far as spinning goes. He times everything exactly, as in: We'll do a seated moderate climb for 20 seconds, followed by a seated difficult climb for 20 seconds, then a standing difficult climb for 20 seconds. We’ll recover for 30 seconds, and then repeat. He lays it all out for us, which is nice because I can really pace myself. He is also particular about having every joint and muscle placed exactly so - lift your hips one inch off the seat, lean forward, not too much weight on your hands, with tight abs and heels dropped.

He plays music, of course, as do all spin instructors, but it's just kind of background. If the planned routine is 3 minutes long, and the song is 3 minutes, 20 seconds, he turns the volume down for the last 20 seconds while he talks over it to get us ready for the next routine. It's a little disconcerting to never really finish a song.

But I sweat more for Zack than for anybody else, and all that structure makes the time go by fast, so he's one of my favorites.

My Saturday morning Cycle spin instructor is Jeff. He is a tall, muscular black guy with an earring and a Mohawk. When he is not a fitness instructor he sings karaoke. He was music major in college and he has an amazing play list. Sometimes at the beginning of class he sings along while we spin. (No one has breath to sing by the end of class.) Last week he was playing "Name the artist" for each tune he played. I am hopeless at that game, having absolutely no musical memory at all. I needed to have my son there. (He has an amazing memory for music.)

You would love Jeff! The thing about spinning is you set the tension on the bike wherever you want it, so you can work as hard (or not) as you like. Jeff is all about pedaling to the beat of the music. (Something I am also hopeless at - no rhythm - so I pedal to the beat of my own drummer.) His classes really are fun, so he’s one of my favorites, too.

I do Mike’s class sometimes. He is a little disorganized, but he plays great music from the 70’s, which I love.

Brian is absolutely gorgeous, plays great music, and is totally structured, but he’s gone back to school so he’s not teaching any more. (Sob)

Steve is completely random, and more than a little boring, so I probably won’t do his class again.

Julie spins like an anorexic maniac. I won’t do her classes, either.

Debbie is calm and focused, gentle almost. I can do Debbie.

If you start to spin, be sure to bring a towel (for the sweat) and a big bottle of water. The padded bike shorts are nice, and so are the special bike shoes that clip to the pedals. The shoes make it easier to pedal in a full circle rather than only applying pressure on the down stroke.

So – conquer your fears and look for a spin class. If you don’t like one instructor, find another. Keep going back until you toughen your buns. Pedal hard enough and fast enough to sweat. And enjoy!

Here’s a poem that really speaks to me now that I am retired and can do just about whatever I want:

Who Wants Those?

I am at a juncture now where I never have to
be serious again.

If I act that way—sober and concerned about
something . . . it is just a charade.

For people who are serious, well, let’s face it . . .
they seem to have lots of problems.

And who wants those?

From “A Year With Hafiz” by Daniel Ladinsky

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Spinning sounds like fun. I look forward to trying it one day, but for now it is a narrow stretch of lounge room between the toys and an exercise video, or the great outdoors for me!
    3022 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5912262
    I enjoyed reading your blog and your poem. I'm so glad you posted them. I love your thoughts on retirement. I'm reaching a juncture now where I can soon retire or stay with the serious a little longer. Decisions to make, so I soak in perspectives and mull them over.
    3090 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8522718
    That sounds really fun!! I am going to have to check around my area to see who might have these classes. Thanks for opening my eyes to a new exercise!
    3093 days ago
  • BRIAN36
    I am a spin instructor and reading your descriptions, I would describe myself as a cross between Jeff and Zack. I tailor the ride to the songs and prefer to have my class know what I'm doing with each song so they can judge their resistance and effort. I also do a name that tune and do my fair share of singing (not very well I'm sure). There are really only so many things you can do on a spin cycle so the music and the instructor can make or break the class. I figure I must be doing OK, because of the 4 different classes offered where I teach, mine is the only one with a waiting list.

    I tell my new students it's their ride, I only provide the guidance and I welcome new students at all levels. You gotta start somewhere.

    3093 days ago
    Thank you for explaining just what happens at a spin class and what makes for great (or not so great) instructors!
    3093 days ago
    6 am, several times a week, 5 or 6 of us tops, would spin with Joe. I was up early and the combination of Joe's warmth and humor, a small group of regulars, and the workout itself made spinning a joy. Some years ago, I had a brain injury and cycling became only a dream. Now, I can cycle again (Hurray!) but spinning is not part of my life and Joe is no longer at my gym. Reading your enthusiastic blog post has rekindled my spinning memories. I am glad to hear you are having fun and sweating and never having to be serious again.

    3093 days ago
    Glad you're hooked on spinning: and those easy-on-the-eyes instructors can't hurt at all!!

    I've taken quite a few spinning classes myself and even have the special gel seat which helps a lot . . .

    Gotta say, however, it's a bit tough on my very arthritic hands . . . sob sob. So not something I do regularly.

    Thanks for the spinning goodie!!
    3093 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5575543
    It sounds like you are having fun. And that's one of the best reasons. emoticon
    3093 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    3093 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    Thanks for sharing about your spin class and the coaches. I will try this some day! Your write up is the best I have seen, so now I have a clue what to expect.
    3094 days ago
    I emoticon spinning too!

    All of the instructors are different, and it's fun to give them my all, no matter what sort of class they structure.
    3094 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12981526
    Thanks for the goodie - no I've never span/spun! But thanks for the blog - I now know it's something I'd like to try! At the mo I'm walking and have been doing Callanetics once a week at home for four weeks. I'm gradually easing into the exercise thing, which I think is why I'm losing the weight consistently now! And I'm actually enjoying it! :-)
    3094 days ago
    I love spin classes! So nice to read that you do as well :-)
    3094 days ago
    Thanks for the spin bike. I had to come read your blog to learn how to use it. You have inspired me!!! Thank you, I am joining a new gym in March and will give it a try.

    3094 days ago
  • MSKIZ69
    It DOES sound like fun!! Maybe I will give it a try-thanks for the great review!!
    3094 days ago
    Is n't great getting older you don't have to take yourself seriously and onone else does either. I remember that poem from years ago.

    3094 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    Sounds like you have found an exercise you love to do. That's what we all need. My gym does not offer spinning classes.
    3094 days ago
    Good on you, I'm a big spin class fan when I need a good hard cardio workout. As a matter of fact, if there isn't a class when I want one, I've just recently developed my own play list that gives me a great workout on a spin cycle.

    Keep at it and spread the word!
    3094 days ago
    The teacher can really make a difference. I've wanted to try spinning but I workout in the exercise room of my building. There is a bike there, and I use it on my "weights" days as my cardio. I make up my own routine, which I know is not as hard as spinning, but it's better than nothing.
    3094 days ago
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