Category Archives: Spin

Adios, Spin Classes

This past month I canceled one of my gym memberships. It’s sort of a long story, but I had maintained two gym memberships since switching jobs in October, and a cost-benefit analysis led me to the decision to keep only one.

Wheel on pavement

I was surprisingly sad to cancel my membership, but I could not rationalize keeping it. Primarily, I was bummed because I would no longer be going to the spin classes I’d attended over the past three years.

Spin taught me some important things about cycling. It was the main reason I purchased a heart rate monitor and, through spin, I learned about how my heart rate changes with short intense efforts.

I learned that riding with the D.C. Randonneurs will make you awesome at mastering the effort of a long steady climb.

I gained greater understanding about the gradual escalation of my heart rate through a heavy flat road, and how to control my breathing through it.

I could practice sprinting all out on a stationary spin bike, and not have to worry aobut traffic or stop lights or overexertion or other cyclists looking at me strangely.

I learned about how my heart rate won’t respond to an effort if my body is overly fatigued from a ride.

Whenever I wanted, I could declare myself the winner of spin class. After all, none of us were really going anywhere, anyway.

I learned what songs are awesome for spin. Radiohead’s “Bodysnatchers” is perfect for all-out sprinting, and so is Cafe Tacuba’s “Eo.” Metric’s “Gold Guns Girls” is ideal for intervals and Uh Huh Her’s “Wait Another Day” is great background music for a long steady climb.

I loved conversing with my instructor about our various upcoming events and chatting after class about our training.

I’m not going to miss shelling out the monthly membership dues, but I am going to miss my weekly spin classes.

However, I felt ridiculous riding my bicycle to the gym to ride a bike that went nowhere inside a dimly lit room with a rockin’ soundtrack. It was an irony I could not tolerate.

I now have a heart rate monitor that allows me to study my efforts whenever I want. I have easy access to a lightly populated 3.2-mile loop that would easily allow me to replicate the spin class environment.

The point of attending spin was to gain a greater understanding of my level of effort as a cyclist and to practice short intense bursts of power. I’ve figured that out.

It was one thing to walk to the gym and hop on a spin bike. It’s a totally different feeling when a trip to a spin class requires a bike ride. As I said, it’s too ironic. I’m happy for all that I learned through the past couple of years’ spin classes, but it’s time to move on.

No sense locking up a bike outside the gym to ride a bike inside. Time to ride uninterrupted in the great outdoors, applying the principles of spin to the “real world.” After all, that was my initial intention.

I sure will miss the soundtrack, though.

We Interrupt this Commute for a Spin Class

Welcome 2012! Brrr! If you’ve been out and about in D.C. the past couple of days you know that we’re being treated to some fine winter weather. Temperatures in the teens, and highs barely eking above freezing.

There should be a winter law where all the traffic lights in the city go to flashing red, and the person whose body temperature suffers the most by waiting for the traffic light to turn gets the right of way. People in cars would have to wait while the cyclists and pedestrians kept moving toward their destinations. Who’s with me?

Cold January Day Panda (c) Felkerino

On days like this, I find myself lollygagging on both the outbound and return legs of my commute. I meticulously slip into my layers, give my glove and cap selection a serious workover, and pull my socks on oh-so-carefully. Given that my commute is generally just over four miles, the time spent putting on my clothes is probably comparable to the time it takes me to actually bike to and from the office.

Often, I try to work in a few extra cycling miles work off the energy built up from sitting at my desk and to enjoy the outdoors. Today, though, I decided to not do any more miles outside than necessary. I also succeeded in procrastinating my commute home even more than normal by walking over to participate in a spin class at the nearby gym.

Forget the outdoors. I’m going to spin today!

That’s right. Spin class! What’s there to love about spin when you could be riding in the brisk outdoor air, you ask?

  • No one yells at me to “Get on the sidewalk!”
  • I can wear shorts and a t-shirt. It’s always summertime in the gym!
  • Music! I do not believe in wearing earphones on my commute, as I like to be able to hear everything around me, but I’m all about it at the gym.
  • No runny noses from riding in the cold. Just sweat, everywhere!
  • Flat tires? Not in a spin class!
  • No stop signs. It’s a perpetual green light when you’re in spin.
  • Appreciation for bike fit. Even though I can adjust the saddle height, handlebar height, and fore and aft position of the saddle of the spin bikes, these tweaks can only adjust the fit of a spin bike so much. There’s nothing like the feel of my real bike, which over time, I’ve honed to fit me perfectly.
  • The bikes don’t go anywhere. No matter how fast or or hard anybody else pedals, in my mind, I always make the top of the podium in spin class.

Spin is also an excellent cardio workout, if I dig in and take it seriously (which of course I do, since I want to make the spin class podium!). After 45 minutes of nonstop pedaling and sweating away, I was good and ready to throw on my layers, retrieve my bicycle, and make my way home.

It was a pretty night out tonight. The quiet roads, waxing moon, and the light breeze made for a pleasant return ride. Almost made me wish I would have worked in those extra miles outside. Almost.