As much as I love running, from time to time I attempt to switch up my workout regime and try something different. It’s hard to shake up a routine sometimes, but if you belong to a gym and fitness classes are a part of the package it’s silly not to utilize the help of a professional instructor and miss out on an opportunity to cross train. Some of the moves and exercises they guide you through are easy to take away and use solo during your next workout, plus it also gives you the chance to use fancy equipment you may otherwise be intimidated to pick up by yourself (think kettlebells, free weights, balance boards, etc).
Last spring, as I was preparing for a trip to the Middle East for five weeks, I decided to sign up for Northeastern University’s group fitness program. It was only $50 for unlimited classes throughout the semester at our state-of-the-art gym, and I was determined to find a workout I would be able to do by myself in a hotel room while abroad—I go a little stir cry when stationary for too long. Running is a bit taboo in Jordan (where I would first be staying) and I had no idea what the situation would be like in Turkey. So I figured if I took enough yoga and Pilates classes, I would be able to mimic the moves and go through the motions by myself eventually.
In addition to yoga and Pilates (which combined, made me realize my upper body strength was disappointingly weak—more on that later), I also tried out spinning. As a kid, I always loved riding my bike, but I hadn’t hopped on a bike for more than 15 minutes in years. And the last machine I ever wanted to jump on at the gym was a bike—I’d always see lazy people on the bike at my school gym, so I equated it with a low-intensity workout. Which, it can be—but so can running. It’s all about the effort you put in.
I ended up enjoying the first class. The instructor pumped the music way high, and turned the lights off so we could sweat as much and breathe as heavy as we wanted without having to get embarrassed about it. She also explained how in spinning, you are in charge of your own resistance dial—each bike has its own resistance dial which you control—making it as easy to go full-throttle or take it down a notch when needed.
So after a hiatus of over a year, I decided to try out spinning once again. I got a month pass at New York Sports Club for super cheap on GilteGroup, and had been using the treadmills but none of the classes. The only class that fit in with my work schedule was at 6am, but fortunately I was able to recruit a friend to go with me.
We showed up early to the class (we woke up at freakin’ 5:30am!) so our instructor could adjust our seat heights and handlebars for us (and so we could get bikes that weren’t in the front row) and then got to work. It was my friend’s first time in a spin class and I was a little nervous he’d balk at the amount of spandex our instructor was wearing—but he seemed to do just fine (in his oversized basketball shorts! haha). With music pumping loud and the lights dimmed low, the only thing we could hear over our instructor’s yell (“Burn that fat!” “Let’s go” Now!”) was a particularly excited woman in the left hand corner who would scream out randomly whenever we were on a climb.
Unlike Zumba or some types of aerobics, spinning only has three positions: 1, 2 and 3. So you don’t have to remember a crazy combination of moves or technical maneuvers: It’s just sit down, lean forward, stand up. Easy enough for me—and I like simple things!
So whether you’re a “Never Ever” or have taken a hiatus, take a spin class soon. Bring a friend, set yourself up in the corner and get to work.