Thursday, 4 February 2016

Volcano fitness regime – death by spin class

After completely embarrassing myself on a climb up a small mountain (more hill really) in Spain a couple of weeks ago – wearing inappropriate foot attire (damn those plimsolls) and proving to be woefully unfit – I’ve taken it on myself to increase my sprightliness and lung capacity. I’ve started a spin class – after all I do have 39 volcanoes still to climb (and my Saturday morning Zumba class got pulled).

If you don’t know what a spin class is, I’ll give you a crash course here.

You sit on a stationary bike (after looking like a right twat trying to adjust the seat and then just giving up before you kick the hell out of it) and try not to fall off it while you attempt to get your feet into the peddle straps (seriously, who invented those?). Rejoicing at having got this far, you then peddle on a low level to warm up (copying everyone else) while waiting for the army-major-like gym instructor to arrive. By this point you’ve clocked the tiny speedometer thingy on the handle bars but can only understand the numbers that correspond to level and calories (RPM? No idea what that is). You twiddle with what appears to be the gear stick – wow, there are quite a lot of levels, you realise.

Finally the instructor arrives, a great hulking slab of beef cake and sweat-glazed skin. You instantly feel intimidated. He proceeds to set up the music then suddenly turns the lights off; you’re plunged into darkness. But no, he flicks a switch and you find yourself at a disco; lights flash green and red and blue, the music blares from the speakers. He yells something about 180 RMPs (what?) and level, did he say 10?

After about 30 seconds, you are thankful for the darkness as your legs begin to feel like hot pokers and your chest heaves. Sweat begins to collect on your brow. It’s then that you realise you left your towel in your bag. Bugger. You turn the gear down, hoping the instructor doesn’t notice.

Another 30 seconds later and you’re wishing you were wearing gel pads (or a giant blow-up lilo) as the bike seat becomes noticeably uncomfortable in a distinctly intimate way. And to think you already thought your backside was well-padded!

For the next hour you slave away in the disco lights, experiencing waves of increasing pain, with lungs on fire and sweat dripping on the speedometer thingy. The room gets hot and moist, despite the supposed air conditioning. It becomes hard to breathe yet you can still smell the sickly BO of the man peddling furiously in front of you.

At one point the instructor walks around to check everyone’s progress. He stares at your speedometer thingy (showing numbers drastically below what he said you should be on) and breaks into a hysterical cackle, slapping his knee and bending over double from the exertion of laughing so hard. You gasp out that it’s your first time. He just continues to laugh and moves onto the next person, who is clearly doing better than you (b****).

With dehydration imminent, you chug back some water, only to be embarrassingly informed it wasn’t water break time and now everyone has to repeat the super-intense, leg-breaking track again. They all glare at you, shaking their heads, the disco lights reflecting in the rivers of sweat running down their faces. You think you might actually die or, if you don’t, you fear you’re not going to be able to sit for a week as the pain radiating from your backside notches up to level ‘excruciating’.

By the time the class is over, you feel like a well wrung out washing-up sponge, your legs are jelly, your face a tomato, and there is a wild look in your eyes. You stumble from the room, self-consciously aware that you walk like there’s a hornet’s nest up your bum. It takes three days for that feeling to dissipate.

So people, that’s spin class – all that torture just in the name of getting fit. Surely next week’s class can’t be that bad, can it?



What hilarious or painful regimes have you put yourself through in order to get fit? Do share – if only to make me feel better!

2 comments:

  1. Scottish Country Dancing, my dear. A quote from Dr Michael J. Valenzuela from his book It’s Never Too Late to Change Your Mind:
    “… I really think dancing has a lot going for it. Let’s analyse it from the Three Keys point of view. Obviously taking dance classes and actually practicing a partner-based dance is a social experience, so that’s one big tick. Equally, dancing can be quite physical, as any one that’s spent a night dancing can confirm. Second big tick.
    But what about the cognitive key? If you’ve never been to a dance class then you may not realise that it can actually be quite mentally demanding. First, there is learning to better control and co-ordinate your body, sometimes carrying out motions that you’ve never even tried before. Next there are the moves, complex sequences that need to first be put into short term memory for reproduction during class, and then into longer term memory so that you don’t start over again at the next class. Over time, effortful and deliberate retrieval of sequences from long term memory becomes effortless actions under the control of automatic motor memory processes. And then there is the perception of beat and rhythm, anticipation of partner’s movements and intentions and so on…no wonder sometimes it’s so hard to make it look easy! Learning to dance definitely has a strong cognitive component and therefore this pass-time more than adequately fulfills the Three Keys. Besides that it is a heap of fun, often addictive for beginners and you get to dance with beautiful people (need I say more).”

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