Learning to Love Spinning Jeanne Leitenberg

The first time I ever took a spinning class, I puked. About halfway through what seemed like the most strenuous workout of my life, I felt sick. Like, an ‘oh my God, if I don’t get out of here right this instant I’m not only going to humiliate myself (and my friends who brought me here) but I will also ruin every single one of these fellow exercisers’ Saturdays’ kind of sick. So while the instructor led the 30 or so other spinners in tapping the saddle, I politely got off my bike and went straight to the fitness studio’s bathroom, where I proceeded to vomit. I didn’t go back into the class.

My relationship with working out has always been one full of animosity. Fortunately, the feeling’s mutual. I hate exercising and I’m pretty sure exercising hates me. For a very long time, there was no activity I’d rather be doing less than working out. I can recall a handful of occasions where I’d sit on my bed, dressed in my gym clothes, thinking that a trip to the dentist would be more enjoyable than getting into my car and driving to the gym. I was also a master of persuasion. “I think I read somewhere it’s harmful to exercise when you have even the slightest headache.” Or “I should tidy up my apartment instead of frivolously wasting time working out.” Seriously, sometimes cleaning my apartment sounded better than exercising.

But every so often, I’d find myself working out. Mostly because I knew I had to do it. You know, health reasons, blah blah blah. Usually I’d go on the elliptical for 45 minutes. This activity was mundane, repetitive and loathsome. I’d relentlessly stare at the clock, praying time would magically speed by so I could get off the machine and get the hell out of my least favorite place in the world.

While I loathed the elliptical, I figured I was still getting a good workout. I mean, I was sort of sweating and it was beyond grueling to be on there. It sure felt like I was exercising my ass off. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. Frustrated that I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I thought about my options. Some kind of dance class? Eh, I’m uncoordinated. Yoga? Never in my life have I been able to touch my hands to my toes. So I turned back to spinning. I reasoned that at least in spinning, you get to sit the whole time. And really, what’s the worst that could happen by trying it again? I get off my bike, go to the bathroom and puke? Been there, done that.

Surprisingly, I survived the class. It was hard and I wanted to quit the entire time, but it wasn’t that bad. So I decided to go back the next week. Which then became going back again and again and again. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough in the beginning. It was. But I did each class at my own pace, as most instructors advise you to do if you’re a novice. I found that with the right music and the right encouragement, spinning could – gasp – actually be kind of fun. Because the truth is, one thing spinning isn’t is boring. And it’s no denying that 45 minutes of hardcore cycling on a bike to loud music is a million times better than 45 minutes on the evil elliptical (screw you, ellipticals).

These days I actually look forward to class. Or rather, I don’t dread going. Recently, I bought spin shoes. Crazy, I know. I even have favorite teachers and certain bikes I like more than others. It’s weird that I have such strong feelings about these things!

There’s one teacher in particular whose class I never want to miss. She always kills it with her playlists. A song that’s been on her mix a few times is Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Could Happen” (which the Girls season two trailer used so perfectly). As my teacher leads us in intervals, she often shouts out things like, “Push yourself! Anything can happen!” I realize that there are no words more apt than those when it comes to me and spinning. In life, anything, and everything, could happen. For example, I could learn to love spinning.

Featured image courtesy of VanityFair.com

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  1. Totally and utterly know where you’re coming from! There is nothing quite like an amazing spin class with an epic soundtrack to get than exercise buzz. I love it, but it did take a while.