On Thursday, I went to a spin class at the gym.
I like a good work-out. I like how it extends my life fractionally and also how it helps me appreciate life by forcing me to stare my mortality full in the eyes. I don't love spinning though. Also, just between us, it's dumb to call it spinning. Spinning is something pioneers and hippies do with sheep shavings to make it into sweaters. What we do in class is bike on the spot for an hour and pretend our ways into more romantic situations, like high-speed races through city streets or mountain treks through the Alps.
The other thing I don't like about "Spin class" is how seriously everyone takes themselves. There lacks a certain joviality that you might find in a step class or latin dance class. The athletes trickle into the room, adjust the settings on their bikes (I can't figure it out so I just get on the bike the way it is and make sure I can reach the peddles), then slowly start to peddle their ways into a hypnotic warm-up. They are envisioning, no doubt, the checkered flag on the horizon and pointing their handlebars that way. They are trying to remember the language of spinning (your bike seat is now called a saddle, by the way). They are getting in the zone.
I will often want to turn to the person next to me and warn them that if I start to look faint, I might be about to keel over and let them know that I've stowed my health card in the secret pocket of my purple towel. I might want to ask them please to tell my husband and kids I love them should I not survive. Sometimes I want to tell the people around me not to be alarmed by the amount of body fluid I'll lose in the next 55 minutes. I might also feel an urge to confide that I will only increase my resistance about 50% of the times that the instructor instructs us to. I will decrease my resistance about 125% of the times that the instrutor instructs us to. I will want to add that it's my work-out and I will do whatever I deem necessary to walk out alive.
The instructor will ask if there is anyone new and then he'll add, "..never been to a class before..." and then he'll nod with satisfaction when no one raises a hand and he'll begin to treat us all as if we're veteran spinners. I resent that there are only two categories. I wish he'd ask if there is anyone who has been to a class but it was last time leg-warmers were in style. I wish he'd ask if there is anyone who has been to a spin class before but was about forty pounds lighter back then. I wish he'd acknowledge that even if you've done spin class once, doesn't mean you know how far to turn your knobby each time he says to add resistance. I wish he'd acknowledge that we aren't all wearing biking gloves and padded spandex shorts.
So we start to bike and then we stretch. I bike harder and I sweat harder. My legs turn faster and faster and I add resistance so Iwon't bounce. I try to balance between the speed and the bouncing and I try to look like I know what I'm doing. My calves burn. My quads ache. My hammies scream. I climb imaginary hills. I climb imaginary mountains. I race faster and faster trying to beat the other half of the room. Chasing an imaginary sunset. Out-racing a fictional batallion of mafia motorcyclists. My lungs squeal for air and streams of sweat blur my vision. And then, just when I feel I can't spin any more, the instructor calls out... "Okay, everybody all warmed up now?"