Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spin Class is for Pussies

At least that is what a lot of the guys at the bike shop where I do my trainer rides say.  To test this null hypothesis I decided to participate in a spin class over the lunch hour today.  Based on my experience, there are two possible outcomes:
  1. The guys at the bike shop are completely wrong, or
  2. They are right, and I am a pussy.
Based on how the other students in the class looked when we were done, I am leaning towards number 1.

First, I should explain how spin class works.  They are held in studios with spinning bikes that look something like this:

They have a small knob on the front that allows you to change the resistance, and the more expensive models can even come equipped with power meters so you can see how much wattage you are producing in addition to cadence (rpm), an estimate of calories burned, time, etc.

So you show up for class a few minutes early and pick a bike.  My strategy is to pick a bike close, but not too close to an attractive female.  I enjoy scenery, but don't want to hit anyone with my projectile sweat once we get a few minutes into the workout. Again, I sweat. A lot.

The first 5 minutes or so is usually a warm-up of easy spinning (i.e. ~90 rpm with low resistance) just to get your legs to wake up.  Then you move into different types of climbing and sprinting intervals with recovery periods in between. 

I noticed a number of differences between cyclists and spin class people today (including the instructor). 

First, most people have no idea how to adjust a bike to fit themselves.  Everyone (besides me of course) either had their seat too low so that they were being extremely inefficient, or they had the seat too high so they were literally bouncing back and forth on the saddle and most likely creating sores on their inner thighs that they will be able to enjoy later. 

Second, nobody wears cycling gear to spin classes.  Nobody wore lycra shorts with a chamois. Nobody wore cycling shoes so that they could clip in.  Well except of course for me.

Third, in spin class you move to different "positions". Our instructor today called them positions 1, 2, and 3. Cyclists would call them normal, out of the saddle, and sprinting.  I was the only person that seemed to be confused by the instructor's numerical system.

Finally, I think spin class may be designed for the following types of people:
  • Young people who enjoy pop music played at annoyingly high levels
  • People who are motivated by being yelled at (literally) by a young woman who may only weigh 75 lbs.
  • Old people who have lost their hearing and are thus either unaffected or oblivious to the first two points
It was something like this:

Despite the loud music and our pint-sized drill instructor, I could make out a number of audible groan and grunts by the end of the class from the people around me.  A few of them just completely gave up (which only seemed to fuel the instructor to continue yelling).  I finished, and my legs are beat.  More so actually than the training rides at the bike shop. And of course I won the award for largest puddle of sweat under my bike when we were done.  I guess that just means I was working harder than everyone else. 

No, spin class is definitely not for pussies.

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