There is nothing quite like the workout you get in a spin class. So few activities offer a ten-plus calories-per-minute burn rate, with a soundtrack and motivating instructor. So few activities offer you the opportunity to pedal for miles and miles without leaving the room. In Park City, you’re not just taught, but coached. Competitive cyclists take these classes, weekend warrior triathletes. You get tips for your mountain bike ride and your road ride—whether you engage in those sports or not, the assumption is that you do, and you’re crazy if you don’t. And, somehow, I keep going back—maybe it’s the view of the luscious lap pool, empty, beckoning to me as I crush mile after mile on my stay-put bike, in a room full of other sweaty people. Maybe it’s the fantasy that I could be one of those super duper athletes one day. Or maybe it’s the full seven stages of class—not the cycling-defined stages, mind you, but the mental stages. Herewith, my play-by-play:
1. Anticipation: I’m setting up the bike. Every time is like the first time. I usually get a bike that was last ridden by a 7-foot tall bodybuilder who has tightened the bolts to the point where I have to call upon a stronger-than-me person in the room to help me loosen them. Yeah, I’m badass. Once I’ve brought everything into alignment, I take a stab at figuring out whether the computer will work this time. I start pedaling. I wonder about the playlist, and how many climbs versus isolations we’ll be doing.
Class begins—warmup is way more RPMs than I’m mentally prepared to hack. Yet, here I am, hating myself for getting on this bike in the first place. I am gasping for air, grabbing for my water bottle at ridiculous intervals. I am convinced that I’m not keeping up with the class—then I’m mad at myself again for getting competitive in an individual sport. Oh, yeah, and indoor cycling isn’t exactly a sport, so much as it is an imitation of a sport. The instructor just announced our first sprint. I want to die.
The sprint. My legs can’t pedal fast enough. The super-triathletes in this room are going like mad. I’m sucking wind, barely. Cue water bottle distraction. We’re sprinting, we’re sprinting, and I’m thinking: “My kingdom for a hill climb.” And then, it happens. “Turn it up to your 9 or 10, and let’s climb.” Suddenly, I’m in the land of “be careful what you wish for.” My quads are burning, my breathing is too rapid. I’m pushing myself to keep some insane cadence. I check the clock, which is reflected (backwards, of course) in the mirror. I’m good at reading reflected time—but now I’m wishing I did not have this gift. It is the sixth such time I have checked the clock since class began at half-past eight. Dammit all to hell, it’s been 9:05 for the past TWENTY MINUTES. I hate myself for myriad reasons, now.
And reason number 7,364 is that I now feel like I need to puke. Which is, by and large, considered bad form in the spin room. More water. We’re still climbing, but there’s talk of something called isolations, wherein you make your upper body stay still and only “spin” your legs. I can do these fine, when we’re climbing. When we are supposed to do it at speed, I turn into a spaz. Or, should I say, revert to my spazzed out self. Oh, well…here goes nothing.
Somewhere in the last eight minutes, the endorphins kicked in. Give me a climb! I’ll turn the dial up to ELEVEN! Tell me to spin it out while isolating! I’m IN, baby! BRING IT. Oh, and I just said all of that out loud. My fellow spinners give me looks of mild amusement—or maybe that’s just the smile they have in their expressions arsenal reserved for people they think are deranged.
6. Free Love
It’s minute 46, and I love each and every one of you. Not just “you” who are spinning in this room with me, but you who are reading this post. I love the world. I love climbing. I love isolating. I love when the teacher says, “Sure, we can recover—after class!” I love the fact that the miles-ridden indicator on the computer is nearing 20. I love that I’m thisclose to having burned 600 calories in an hour. I love that I’ve just ridden almost 20 miles to NOWHERE. I am the spin-room equivalent of the drunk frat boy, and his alcohol-infused love of all in the room—nay, the world. I AM LOVE.
7. Sweet Relief
“Sit up straight and give yourselves a hand! You did it!” Oh, yes, thank you to all holy spirits—from all religions and spiritual worlds, actually. This workout has reached its best moment: It has ended. And now, I’m off to find food—and eat with impunity.