I told my 16 year old son that I am taking spin classes every Saturday. He looked at me and shook his head. He then called me a name that I won’t repeat or write.
I texted my 23 year old daughter and told her I am taking spin classes every Saturday morning. She texted me back saying, “smh.” (For you uninformed, it means “shaking my head.”) She followed that text up with a quick “who are you?” She is not very tactful and can be mean. So, I called her.
“What do you mean, who are you? I asked. She answered, “What’s up with the spin classes? I mean, who are you? What are you doing? Since when do you spin?” I won’t get into our family history. I’ll simply say that my daughter does wonder about me.
To answer my daughter’s last question, I haven’t missed a Saturday of spin classes for the past 11 weeks, until last Saturday when I had to be out of town. Ever since my wife dragged me, yes – kicking and screaming, to her boot camp classes in January, I’ve been spinning.
I’ve been spinning since I stopped going to my regular health club, riding the bike for about 10 miles in about 30 minutes, working up a nice sweat but feeling rather unfulfilled. I’ve been spinning every Saturday since the first spin class when my feet kept popping out of the pedals, when I had to sit down on the bike seat every few minutes because I was so tired, and when I looked around I saw women (yes, I was the only guy there) standing up on the pedals pounding out the pace. I’ve been spinning every Saturday since the instructor, a woman named Kat (a crazy, deranged, drill sergeant of a woman), pedaled every mile of the way along with the class while playing music that matches the rhythm of the ride she is directing. I’ve been spinning every Saturday because it makes me feel good and, at my age, it’s time to stop worrying about how I’m perceived. (That’s true, but aren’t we all at least a little self-conscious?)
The concept is rather simple: an instructor positions a stationery bike in front of rows of other stationery bikes (in our class it’s two rows of 8) and directs the riders on how to attack several different rides over one hour. With Sgt. Kat, you stand on the pedals for about 90% of the ride, only utilizing the seat for three short water breaks or if you are about to stop breathing. The key, I have learned, is how the instructor utilizes the resistance on the bike. Climbing the hills means heavy resistance, sprinting requires low or no resistance, and medium resistance is used for just about every other type of ride.
To make things even tougher, Sgt. Kat adds core exercises to the drill while you’re riding. So you’re doing arm exercises, ab exercises, and shoulder exercises during a hill climb or a sprint. For you seasoned spinners out there, you’ve stopped reading. For us newbies, you get my drift.
After 12 weeks, I’m still usually the only guy. I’m always the only white guy. I’m trying to figure out the sociological aspects of this, but I can’t. Are white guys so uptight and insecure that they can’t let loose and do something that someone might consider non-masculine? Are men, in general, afraid to show athletic vulnerability in a room full of women? Are white guys unable to perform athletically unless there are others of the same ilk in the room or on the court with them? It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Maybe with a woman instructor, a guy doesn’t want it to seem like she is more accomplished when she is killing him on the bike. Maybe race has nothing to do with it, but when is that ever completely true?
Does it really matter who is around you when you are being challenged to push yourself a little further than you have been pushed before?
Last Saturday, when I missed the spin class, my wife asked if I was having spin class withdrawal. Yes, I told her – it was crazy how you can get used to something that for 99% of your life never crossed your mind.
I also missed the music. You know that Rihanna S&M song has a good beat and is easy to spin to.