In the weeks following my Webster Groves Recreation Complex Beginning Spinning course, I have been trying to find a way to say this in a professional manner, appropriate for publication, only to come to the conclusion that there's no nice way around it. The problem with Spinning, plain and simple, is the seat.
I did not bring a seat cover to Beginning Spinning because I did not know about seat covers. The instructor, Jeanne Samson, was nice enough to lend me one both times I took the class—however, the seat cover during the first week was sincerely thinner than the one I used during the second week. I credit this extra level of cushion for the fact that I did not leave Beginner Spinning class No. 2 early/in tears/otherwise broken.
If you skip the rest of this article, here's what I hope you take away: Don't try to be a hero. Drop the 20-or-so bucks and buy the jumbo-plush seat cover.
Now, on to the other aspects of the class: Like most fitness-related activities, I was dreading this course. Call me a cynic, but once I hear how great something is from a number of sources, I tune out altogether. It’s how I missed the Harry Potter craze, the Avatar obsession and the entire concept of photo app Snapchat. Spinning fell into this—wait for it—cycle.
This 55-minute class begins with an easy warm-up ride, and is followed simply by more riding. I don't know what I was expecting, but when something is referred to as a class, I envision learning a new skill. This is a skill you already know—you're simply doing it with other people. And if you're of the anti-fitness mindset like I am, this is enough to make you think the entire experience is unnecessary.
The class is broken into two types of rides: high- and low-resistance. During high-resistance rides, we would move from sitting to standing, which felt a little more like climbing than riding. It also got your behind off the devil seat, which I loved. For low-resistance rides, we were in 'races,' which literally meant going as fast as you could.
The class became much more enjoyable once I remembered the wise words my coworkers sent me off with: You don't have to go as fast as everyone else. Add that to the fact that you are the sole person in charge of your bike's resistance—no judgment from me if you only pretend to turn it up—and the main hurdle to cross is your own pride. Sure, you should do your best and push yourself; but if you're half a song away from actually passing out, you might have let your competitiveness get the best of you.
The class is advertised as having 'motivating music,' and tunes varied from classic rock to Top 40, and included well-known hits from Lady Gaga, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Gym Class Heroes, OneRepublic—even the Backstreet Boys made a brief appearance.
All in all, the tunes were bearable, even to this music snob. Excluding the seat, my only problem with cycling came from the position you're forced to sit in:You don't sit up straight—you lean forward to hold on to the handlebars.
The class wraps up with stretching; then, it's time to move the bikes. These machines are heavy; and after a class so packed with exercise, this proved to be a difficult task. Thanks to the front wheels, moving the bikes was sort of like moving a packed dolly that you didn't load—you've got no idea how heavy it's going to be, but you've got to get it on those two wheels without breaking something (you, the machine, your pride, whatever.)
Now back to unpleasantries: I left this class drenched in sweat with wobbly legs. This class is exhausting, and you will look—and probably feel—disgusting after taking it. Beauty is pain, right? The saving grace of the sweat situation was the Lorna Jane 'Karin Excel Tank' from Dimvaloo Active Living, which literally did what its tag said it would: wick moisture away from the body.
"You will sweat—it feels like you got a work out in," says Dave Reddy, Webster Groves Recreation Complex head personal trainer, noting that this cardio class is low- or no-impact when the bike is adjusted properly. And unlike a regular bicycle, you can't coast during Spinning. "When you begin pedaling you are pedaling the entire time," he says.
Sore, sweaty and nearly blind from runny mascara, I somehow finished my Spinning experience with a pleasant opinion. However, for a few days, I couldn't help but think, Why attend a class when I can do this anywhere with a bike? As the days after Spinning turned into weeks, I realized something about myself that I'd bet is true for many: Without someone making me do it, I'll never try as hard. Alone in the gym on a bike, I get bored after a few minutes and walk away. The accountability of the class was the difference—and without it, I'm back in my own cycle (and no, this time I don't mean of the biking variety). Maybe that's why people rave about the course. Touché, Spinning, touché.
LN Wishes to Thank:
Dimvaloo Active Living (dimvaloo.com)
Webster Groves Recreation Complex (webstergroves.org)