Saturday, February 5, 2011

#12 - Take a Spin Class.....

When I posted my 50 Things to Do list in my sidebar, #12 bothered me. Not because I was concerned about doing just didn't sound right. It took me until today to realize that what I meant to say was a "Spin Class," not a "Spinning Class." The latter makes me sound like I wanted to make my own wool. And while I do enjoy creativity, that might be taking things a bit too far.

Even though I've been cycling (off and on.....a whole lot of off) for almost 20 years, I had never taken a spin class. I had heard (correctly) that the classes would kick your butt even if you WERE a dedicated cyclist. I guess I avoided them because I was afraid. I'm not a terribly fast cyclist (except downhill, then I'm REALLY fast because heavier things go downhill faster), and I don't do the kinds of rides where you feel compelled to push yourself to keep up with other people. I am only interested in staying in front of Katydid (we ride a tandem ..... ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) and preferably within sight of Rozmo.

I was also unsure about the whole concept of cycling to music. I do listen to music on my bike every now and then, and it does help if I try to pedal to the beat. (Unless the song is something like Billy Joel's "Lullabye," and then it has a counter effect.) I had walked by the room where they were doing spin classes from time to time, and I also noticed that they are held in the dark. I was puzzled as to why. Today I did my first spin class, and I'm still puzzled about the lights off thing.

The spin class was indeed an excellent workout. I didn't do everything the perky little instructor said to do, but I did what I could. A couple of times when she told us to turn the tension to the right (harder), I actually turned it to the left. Maybe that's why they hold those classes in the dark? She couldn't see which way I was turning the knob.

I can understand why cyclists would use spin classes to stay in shape in the winter, but I'm not sure they are for me. For one thing, it isn't quantifiable. She started off the class by telling us to put the tension on "medium." What the heck does that mean? It was my first time, and I didn't know medium from well done. (Ha ha ha ha ha - aren't I a scream tonight?) When I'm on my real bike, I use miles per hour or average speed to gauge how well I'm doing. I can also see the top of a hill (usually), so I know how hard I need to work to get up it. She would tell us to turn the tension one full turn to the right, but what if I didn't start off in the right place to begin with? I wish the knobs had numbers on them. "Put it on 4" would make a lot more senses to me. And then I would know to put it on 2.

It didn't help matters that I chose today's class because the instructor is one from whom I've taken various classes at two different locations over an 18-year period of time. I felt comfortable telling her it was my first time and asking for some basic beginner information. Only she wasn't there, and the substitute was the same perky little thing who teaches both the line dancing class and the hip hop class, neither of which I enjoyed very much. She was also the person working the front desk when I went to sign up for the multi-sport club at the "Y" last night. (What on earth am I thinking?)

I think there are some things about spin classes that go against my cycling philosophy. For one thing, on our real bikes we pay thousands of dollars to buy enough gears so that we never have to get out of the saddle, no matter how steep the hill. I stand up occasionally to go up a hill, but I've been told that you aren't supposed to do it too much, because it's hard on the knees. But almost an entire spin class is spent standing on the pedals. Even if I did enjoy the spin class, my knees did not.

I won't say I won't do another spin class, but I don't think it's anything I want to do two or three times a week.

While I have you enthralled with my exercise class, I'll tell you about a couple more.

I went to zumba class last night, mainly because Hubby is out of town. I didn't put zumba on my 50 Things list because I had done it before, albeit a couple of years ago. It rained all day yesterday (and all night last night and part of this morning), and it has been cold. Just wet and miserable. I thought to myself that a 6:00 zumba class on a rainy Friday night in February, when a lot of folks have given up their New Year's resolutions already, might have about three people in it. I was off by about thirty-two. I couldn't believe how many people were there! And I loved the instructor. She knew which ones of us weren't regulars, and she made sure to make eye contact and give personal feedback. She could lead the class and at the same time nod, smile, give a thumbs up when we were doing a move correctly. I really enjoyed that class. I'm not sure I will go every Friday night, but I think she teaches one other night during the week as well. It's so much fun, because you feel like you're just dancing instead of working out.

After the spin class this morning, I went to a step aerobics class. It is usually taught by the same instructor as the regular spin class, and I have often wondered how on earth she teaches spin for an hour and then immediately does step aerobics for another hour. I figured if she could do it, so could I. But since she wasn't there this morning, another instructor had to fill in. She said she was going to do "double step," which sounds a lot scarier than it is. Instead of ONE step bench, each person has TWO. She had us put them in an "L" shape, and our routine carried us from one to the other and back.

It was fun at first. I got the first combination fairly quickly and was getting a good workout. We also used a weighted bar and hand weights for some upper body work, which I desperately need. The second combination of steps, however, proved too much for me. I got aggravated and frustrated, and I finally packed up everything and left. (It's hard to walk out in a snit when you have to disassemble not one but two step benches and put them away, along with all the other paraphernalia we were using. All while the class was still going on.)

I don't understand the trend in aerobics classes in the past few years. I realize they want to mix up the routines and keep them interesting and not boring, but why the necessity to make them as COMPLICATED as possible? I'm not stupid, and I have above-average coordination. I was on the drill team in high school, and I was in my one and only dance recital at the age of 34. When I go to an aerobics class, I want to .... maybe EXERCISE? .... I'm not trying out for a Broadway musical.

I didn't want to walk out, and I really tried to avoid it. I tried not to be frustrated. When she first started introducing the intricate combination of steps, I just did the basic up-and-down step on my bench, figuring I was still exercising, which was after all the whole point. She kept adding on more and more complicated things, though, and pretty soon I was standing at my step going up-and-down and up-and-down while people danced and hopped and stepped and spun and shuffled all around me. I looked like the queen of step aerobics, and my subjects were earning their keep by dancing for me. Or maybe not.

Two other people picked up their benches and equipment at about the same time I did, and I wonder if it's for the same reason. I was going to stop at the front desk and ask if maybe they have a "Step Aerobics for Idiots" class, but the person working the desk was ....... you guessed it, Miss Spin-Hip-Hop-Line-Dance Perkiness herself. Good grief, she's EVERYWHERE!

I also ran into the instructor for water aerobics at the "Y" today, and I showed her where I was broken out (don't worry, just my arms .... not my nipples). She said she had already complained about the level of chlorine in the pool last Monday. She said it had done a number on her brand-new swimsuit, and she could smell the chlorine on her skin three days later. Apparently it was an abnormally high level, and they are aware of it, so maybe I don't have to avoid the pool completely.

I apologize for the length of this exercise-related post. You may now return to your own chosen level of activity. Mine for the rest of the night will be quilting and reading.


midlife_swimmer said...

I shower well before getting in the pool to soak up fresh water first my hair too ... then I shower with chlorine kids cheapy shampoo at the pool after I get out in warm and then rinsing my whole body in cooler water on the way out... then when I get home I shower again with castile soap and I shampoo and condition my hair... and about once sometimes twice a week I then soak in a tub with a table spoon of coconut cooking oil melted into it and slather in cocoa butter after. But I practically marinate myself in the stuff....

ask what the levels are at the pool next time you want to go in.

DJan said...

I would love to have a step class available to me, since they seem to be going away everywhere. I love step but instead I have a class called "low impact aerobics" that only gives me a mild workout. I've never tried spin classes, they do look brutal, and from your description, they are!