I knew within the first ten minutes that I would not survive. My body simply wasn’t made for that kind of endurance, or if it was then I haven’t kept it in tip-top shape over the past few years. A few cookies here and there. Some cookies and cream ice cream on occasion. You know how it is. Then I decided to try and get back in shape after several years of neglect, and my body said, “Nuh-unh. No way. Not me.” After ten minutes on that stationary bike, my mind was in complete agreement with my body.
I went spinning tonight. If you don’t know what it is, spinning is the equivalent of old school stationary biking… kicked up a notch, as Emeril would say. It’s an hour of hearing the instructor yell at you as if you’re deaf. And she’s shouting things like “Now turn up the resistance,” and “Go at your own pace, but make sure you hit 100.” Um, yeah. My own pace is a sedate 45, and I was quite proud of it until I noticed everyone else in the class going quite a bit faster. Perhaps they were even hitting 100. I told myself they weren’t, to make me feel better.
It all started five years ago when we had a “health awareness” day at the school I taught at. These folks from the local gym came with eight spinning bikes, and my friend Rebecca talked me into trying it out with her after lunch. That was my first mistake. Needless to say they had to clean up the gym floor after my ride. My second mistake was thinking that it would be a piece of cake. It was not. I did everything the instructor said, but she screamed at us and challenged us to keep going past the point where I wanted to just fall off the bike and fade into the floor.
And I was sore for days afterward. My family went to a water park on the next day and I wanted to just sit in those water tubes and rest my bottom for the whole day. Instead I was chasing after my three-year old as she wanted to go on every single ride available to her. Oh yeah, and hurting with every single step I took. You see, spinning takes it out of your rear end, but also out of your legs. My legs literally felt like jello as I tried to run and keep up with the little munchkin. I told myself never again.
Until my wife’s cousin’s wife opened a health and wellness center down the street. Now I had no excuse that all the fitness places were miles out of my way. Right. Down. The. Street. Damn. Then my wife decided she wanted to go and take some spinning classes, despite my warning her of the dangers involved. After her first class she was just like me, but unlike me she went back three more times. Each time I had no idea how she did it, but each time was just one more challenge in my mind. If she could do it and survive, so could I.
Um, no. I went to spinning class tonight with great aspirations. I was going to conquer the bike because I knew what I was getting into this time. I knew the dead feeling I would get in my legs. I knew that I would get to a point where I would want to just drop dead, but I was going to keep going against all odds (take a look at me now, Phil Collins!) and finish the hour like the champion I knew I could be.
Yet, ten minutes in I was ready to give up. I looked at the clock, did a double-take (“There is no way it’s only been ten minutes”), put my head down, and soldiered on. I figured if my wife could do it, I could do it. Then I started hallucinating. It started with a Dominican beach and me with a margarita in my hand, then morphed to me just sitting on my couch, NOT SPINNING. Both of them were divine, but both times I was dragged back by the pounding music and the voice rising above it all, telling me to “Ramp it up.”
Finally we were in the home stretch, after what felt like days of riding that damn bike, and Eminem was telling me to just lose myself as I climbed that final hill with the sweat pouring down my face and my water bottle just about empty. The instructor told us to climb carefully from the bike, and that’s when I realized I could no longer feel my legs. At all. And my head felt light, like I could float away at any minute. Which would have been helpful if it were true, as I wouldn’t have had to use my legs in that scenario. But instead I slid unceremoniously from the bike and slid unceremoniously down to the floor while everyone else was stretching.
I stayed there for five full minutes. All the ladies gave me their pity. “That poor guy couldn’t even make it through the after-spinning stretches.” I knew they were thinking it, but I was so glad none of them actually said it. Twenty minutes later I was finally able to leave the building under my own power. When I got home and staggered inside, my wife smiled and asked me the one question I should have known was coming. “So, are you going spinning again?”
And I said yes. I have no clue why, but I said yes. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment.