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.

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Aerobics fever: move over, Jane Fonda!

Redoubling my efforts to find a way to stay in shape while tennis elbow issues are keeping me off the court, I checked out an aerobics class at a fitness studio called Uforia that opened two years ago in a historic building formerly belonging to the AME Zion Church. It’s pretty cool to be working out and glance up to see stained glass windows.

The class was called “fever,” billed as “a fun and athletic aerobics inspired class.” Supposedly it would be “45 minutes of heart pounding, sweat pouring and smile inducing fun,” and no prior dance or fitness training was required, just a readiness to come and move. The description also added that “Jane Fonda won’t know what hit her.”

Aerobics fashion: check

Great, I was there. I showed up early, attired in black Nike capris and a racerback tank — clothes I thought would help me blend in, fashion-wise. I didn’t want to stand out as dorky, or edgy. As others arrived, I decided my clothing choice had been good, but if I continued with this class, I would definitely need to upgrade my shoes.




Aerobics moves: not so much

Our instructor connected her iPod to the speaker system and put on her cordless mic. After a bit of stretching and warm-up, we plunged into the moves. “Lunge right, feet together, lunge left, feet together. Now forward, two three four, back, two three four. Grapevine right, two three four. Left, two three four. Add a twist, two three four. Left, two three four.”

She shouted over the pulsing beat, pointing right and left to help us stay in step. By the end of the first song, I was back in the aerobics class I used to do in a converted store at the mall during evenings between my sophomore and junior years in college. For me, it was 1982. Jane Fonda had just released her first Workout video:

How ’bout those high-cut leotards? Hopefully they won’t come back, the way some fashions do. I was reminded of being on college tours with my daughter. When we visited my own school, our student tour guide was energized to hear I had lived in the residential college that enjoyed some small fame for an Austin Powers-style party. “Essentially, it mocks the ’80’s — it’s become quite the tradition, I’m sure you remember it.”

I had to remind him that actually, I was in college during the ’80’s, so it would technically be my generation that the party would be mocking. No problem.

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