Spinning: why pedal furiously on a bike that’s going nowhere?

“Take it up to 100 rpm, flat road.” I’m pedaling like crazy, grateful my feet are clipped into the pedals and can’t fly off. Knowing the next command from our spinning instructor is going to be “add a touch” [of resistance, that is], while simultaneously taking the “cadence” up to 110 revolutions per minute.

I, too, used to believe everything non-spinners said about spinning: it’s too hard, it’s ridiculous even in concept – why don’t you just go for a bike ride outdoors? Not to mention: it’s boring, there’s nothing but you and the bike (which, in case you forgot, isn’t going anywhere). Oh, and did I mention, it’s really hard?

 tri-ing to be athletic_spinning

Spinning out of my mind

I had even tried spinning once or twice, thought it was terrible. Did not relate to the super-young, overly enthusiastic instructor. Plus I couldn’t imagine myself joining a class of people who were either grubby t-shirt + multiple sweat towel types, or else petite women wearing only teeny spandex and sports bras.

But since I couldn’t play tennis this fall, and I was desperate to find a way to improve my cardiovascular condition — having found that even vigorous walking wasn’t going to achieve it, I thought I’d try spinning again. After all, I’d been told that biking would strengthen my quads and reduce the knee pain that bugs me when I run too much on the tennis court.

So I checked out a few classes. I wound up at Uforia, the same place where I had done the Jane Fonda-style aerobics class. The first few classes were hard, really hard. Just as I was getting used to the regular instructor, he went on vacation and got a sub. She seemed crazy. Kept on telling us to increase the resistance, climb the hill. There was no recovery time at all — I couldn’t even get a sip of water from my bottle clipped to the handlebar.

I realized at some point that my heart rate had been over 155 beats per minute for the better part of half an hour. My legs were rubber from all the pedaling, and sweat was sliding down my back, neck and arms. But at exactly 36 minutes, 37 seconds into the workout, I no longer cared. I have no idea why I noted the time. But I knew I could finish the hour.

Spinning gives you endorphins

As a practical matter, I could barely walk for the next couple of days, but in that moment, I exhilarated in the endorphins coursing through my bloodstream. It brought to mind the words of Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) in Legally Blonde:



An endorphin high is merely one reason to do spinning. I’ll detail more of them in a future post. In the meantime, however, it’s fair to say I’ve “sold out,” at least enough to buy cycling shoes. Pretty snazzy, don’t you think?


Spinning shoes

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