It’s winter and that means I do little riding out of doors, and am relegated to the strange windowless back room of my suburban rec center, where I sit on a stationary bike with, oh, 54 other folks, and I pedal like a maniac, wearing old t-shirts with cut-off sleeves.
It ain’t real riding but it’ll have to do ‘til the real thing comes along. (My grandmother used to say the same thing about love—but, alas, I digress.)
I don’t totally hate spin class. In fact, during winters past, I’ve really enjoyed it. But this season it’s getting stale, and I’m solidly at a level of high dislike.
Why do I dislike spin class, you ask? It’s so freaking boring that I want to scream out loud sometimes, that’s why. It’s boring because, at my current gym, all you do is push and pull the pedals and stare at a giant screen which usually is showing nothing but a colored chart explicating the various levels of aerobic and anaerobic exertion. Because the instructors often talk too much and too loudly (criminy, turn down the microphone, for lord’s sake!)—mostly about the various levels of aerobic and anaerobic exertion. (Double sigh.) Why do they talk so much? And why so damn loud—loud enough to make me reflexively shudder and shake my head? It would be worse if they talked over really cool music, but at least the music usually, well, sucks.
Ah yes, the music. Most of the instructors at my gym play this terrible mix of unheard of house music (but it has such a strong beat to help with cadence!), or something that seems to be lifted straight from American Idol. That, mixed in with some Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé—which would be fine, you know, if they had like, ironic quotation marks around them. But no, I can tell, they are not ironic. They are serious.
When I first began attending spin classes at a gym downtown, things were different. There was one instructor, Linda, who consistently took us to new heights of pain, and she never talked about anaerobic threshold or capillaries or pira forma muscles. She just rocked us out to The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, KC and the Sunshine Band, Social Distortion, and Journey. Not only do these songs rule—they’re nostalgic touchstones that make spinning not just spinning—class was a nice little bike ride down memory lane. So you were thinking not about your aching legs or panting breaths, or lactic acid or pedal cadence—you were thinking about that time you were 18 and driving your mom’s car with the windows down on a summer night and all was gorgeous possibility and you knew that life would never get any better.
Such little mind trips made the hour roll by very fast. They made the class the opposite of painful and dead boring.
Maybe I should join that gym again.
Just for the heck of it, here’s my try at the perfect spin class mix:
Ring of Fire—Social Distortion
Over My Head—Fleetwood Mac
Wheel in the Sky—Journey
Wanted, Dead or Alive—Bon Jovi
I am a Man of Sorrow—Soggy Bottom Boys
Down in the Tube Station at Midnight–The Jam
When I Saw Her Standing There–Beatles
Age of Consent–New Order
Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing—Chris Isaac