You Spin Me Right Round

Posted: March 25, 2011 in Bike, Training
  • Spin (click to see stats)
  • (1:31:33)
  • Avg. Heart Rate =  90 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate =  143 bpm
  • Calories = 431

It’s nearly Spring and I’m beginning to anticipate getting back to outdoor cycling…thank Christ! Sure I get outside regularly on my runs now, but I actually enjoy cycling; passing countryside, cool tail winds, rolling hills, the steady hum of a quick powerful cadence…it’s awesome.  Spin classes, however, those dark, sweaty dungeon-like indoor sessions…not so much.  I find them about as much fun as a root canal truthfully and I am quickly getting bored of endlessly spinning on stationary bikes in order to keep up my pedaling skills.  Soon I will be able to go back outside again but, for right now…it’s a total spin hell (as it was tonight).

There are two types of “Spin People” as I see it; the kind that prefers to look at peoples faces and those who prefer to look at peoples butts.  Me?  I’m a face person and, like most face people, I tend to gravitate towards the front of the class so I can watch other people’s expressions while we work out.

If it’s your first time going to a spin class you will probably prefer to position yourself near the back of the studio to avoid the scrutinizing gaze of the instructor (as well as those around you) while you figure out how to use the gearing and resistance lever on your bike.  However, this also means that you’ve committed yourself to looking at the bouncing rear ends of another dozen or so spinners for the next hour and a half and, I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily see the fun in that.  Personally, I’d rather have something else to look at besides a sea of black padded asses and a blur of calves all whizzing around at 94 rpm.

From where I like to spin in the class, I can see everybody in the reflection in the huge wall-size mirror at the front of the studio.  I have learned this way that everybody has their own unique “Spin Face”. A ‘Spin Face’ is really just a cross between a ‘guitar face’ and somebody who’s trying to pass a bowling ball – a look that exudes both pure ecstasy and agony all at the same time.  Mine, I’m sure, would rival any 80’s hair band guitarist…either that, or Gary Busey trying to saw off his own leg.  Usually, witnessing a good dramatic ‘Spin Face’ will bring an instant smile to my face during even the toughest of hill workouts.  However, this alone doesn’t offer me enough positive incentive to enjoy a grueling 60-90 minutes of indoor spinning, so I have come up with the following suggestions to maximize your spin while still managing to make it fun.

Give yourself a goal every workout – Do not go gentle into that good spin class – rage, RAGE, against the dying of the fly wheel.” Just don’t do whatever your spin instructor tells you to do. You aren’t a robot; own your workout!  Instead, take a more active roll in your workouts and give yourself a concrete goal for each and every class. For example, “Today I’m going to push as hard as I can on the hills, or the sprints,” “Today I’m going to win the biggest sweat puddle contest,” or “Today I won’t turn down the resistance until 5 seconds after the instructor tells me to.” If you set yourself small but achievable goals each session you will feel a sense of accomplishment after your workouts, and the time will fly by too.

The original 'Spin Class'?

Have your playlist or listening material cued up – Most people, including myself, like to spin while listening to music of some sort.  Who wouldn’t?  But if you have ever tried to ‘climb’ hills to fast, upbeat tempos or tried to sprint to slower, more drawn out melodies is hard.  Finding that spark in your workout, suddenly, isn’t so easy is it?  I like to queue up a playlist in my iPod well in advance so I can arrange the faster paced songs to match the fast sprinting intervals of my workouts and, likewise, have the longer, more drawn out songs for all my hill work.  So the music then compliments my workout and provides that constant adrenaline rush when I need it.  Sometimes, on easier spins, I like to use the opportunity to listen to old albums that I haven’t listened to in years and relive some past pleasant memories.  In fact, I even purchased a USB turntable last year so I could put all my old blues records on my iPod.  Sometimes, I listen to new albums that I’ve been looking forward to hearing but just haven’t gotten around to checking out yet.

Change the setting/scenery – This is really only advantageous if you are spinning with others in a group session.  Instead of facing the bikes forward so that everybody is spinning looking at one another’s asses, position the spin bikes in a circle or in a way that you can better face one another and interact more effectively.  If you spin on your own as I typically do, perhaps try positioning your trainer opposite a different window giving you a fresh vantage point of the parking lot outside (or the hotties on the elliptical machines) for the next hour or so.

Plan out a “route” beforehand – I’m confident that if you’ve bicycled even semi-regularly, that you have probably found a route that was either particularly difficult or offered a unique challenge of some sort whether it be a steep hill, fast winding roads, or rolling hills.  Why not try and recreate that course in your mind to challenge yourself to improve on whatever it was that provided you the difficulty before. Then, come next cycling season, you’ll be ready and, hopefully, able to tackle that route again with a renewed vigor and enthusiasm.  I have already climbed the local beast ‘Saylor Hill’ along Effingham Rd. about 2 dozen times since the new year and I haven’t even gotten my bike out of storage yet.

Wear costumes – Hey, and why not?  Who wouldn’t enjoy spinning while dressed like a pirate, a fairy princess, or your favorite celebrity has-been?  I haven’t necessarily tried this, of course, but how could it be a miss?  It’d be like role-playing games maybe…a ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ meets Ironman, so to speak.  I’m game if you are…

Thank fully, indoor workouts will be coming to a close in about another month or so, so this is really just a moot post I guess.  I will be very thankful to get back to outdoor cycling indeed.  I am particularly excited to see what difference my recent weight loss will make to my climbing and sprinting abilities.  Remember, one of the Fitness Goals this year is to log a sub 2 hour, 30 minute 90k ride on my way to completing a 5 hour, 30 minute Half Iron event…so I definitely have my work cut out for me.  So, in the meantime, even if spin classes ain’t fun they’d better at least be effective!

  1. Carolyn H. says:

    You know what I like to do? I like to steal the regulars’ bikes in the spin room and throw them off. You know the ones that think their name is on a name plate on front of that bike, during that class.

    • Heather J says:

      OMG – This is f-ing HILARIOUS!!! Only because I spend A LOT of time in spin classes in the winter and,yes, I totally agree with taking the “regulars” bikes. It’s just so funny to watch them fume for no reason other than their own ego-centirc selves suddenly aren’t on display at the front of the room. And, yes, I totally agree about NOT being at the back of the pack! This just absolutely made me giggle and was a nice little smirk at the end of a really shit day – thank you for posting!

  2. That’s so totally me. I wouldn’t throw a fit or anything any I don’t feel entitled to my position in the class or anything, but it would definitely throw off the routine a bit as I’m such a creature of habit. LOL!

    • Carolyn H. says:

      Oh I have my favorite bike too, but I’m not all uptight if I have to move for one day. Some people whether spin bike, or parking spot, they just are tightly spun.

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