Spinning at the Y...MCA
I’m so proud of myself. I broke down and joined a spinning class at my local Y. I say “broke down” because I’ve been a member for a coupla years now, I’ve paid the dues, because, initially, I wanted the girls in swimming class, but I never did much of anything for myself there. Every once in a while, I’d talk myself into goin to the gym, get on a treadmill or bicycle, but it wasn’t any fun. So I didn’t keep up with it.
But then I found out about the spinning class. First time I heard of the thang was on a King of Queens episode. Or a coupla episodes. “Carrie Heffernan” takes a spinning class. She said. I had no idea what it was. (Actually, I imagined a class where folk twisted and turned on little disks, working up a sweat for thirty minutes. Laugh, but I did, I’m sorry to say.) Then I got a schedule of YMCA group exercise classes and saw this thang called “Y Spin.” Turns out it’s a stationary racing bike class (“stationary racing bike” as an oxymoron notwithstanding). It sounded fun.
It was. But lemme warn the uninitiated, it puts a hurtin on the butt at first. Those bikes have little, tiny, HARD seats, honey, and sittin on them BURNS and BITES, especially, I reckon, if you’re heavy and said heaviness presses down such that the tiny seat is forced to defend itself by shovin itself . . . upward. I should feel sorry for the tiny, defenseless seat, but, in the beginning, my butt hurt so bad, I couldn’t spare a thought for anything but the GM*.
“It gets better,” one of my classmates said, as he adjusted the extra padded seat cover he’d brought along to class. But he was right. I don’t know whether my butt toughened up, or the tiny seat decided to have mercy on me (okay, my butt toughened up), but the discomfort had lessened even by the second time I came to class.
Because I had to come back. It was great (notwithstanding my butt’s complaints): wild, percussive exercise music, a really strenuous workout, wringing out copious amounts of sweat and muscle burning, and all manner of support (notwithstanding my butt’s complaints). The people in the class were all spinning veterans, many of them quite trim and toned, but they were also kind, funny, and encouraging, especially the teacher, Carol.
Carol is a tiny, wide-hipped black woman, about my age, who resembles a younger, softer Eartha Kitt. She’s a hard taskmaster, now, don’t get me wrong. She yells at us to “Push!” and “Squeeze!” and “Pull those heels up!” and “Keep the cadence!” and “Tighten that tension two and half turns!” But she also pays attention to her students (and by “students,” I mean me). I appreciate the fact that, throughout the class, Carol looks back at me while I’m puffing and sweating, and asks, “You okay?” Often, she says, “Loosen your tension a full turn.” Or “Sit down. Have some water.” (I’m telling you, honey, when you’ve been up jogging on that bike for what? only three minutes? that tiny, hard seat becomes your friend.) She laughs at me when I puff and groan, but it’s not ridicule. It’s commiseration. After what I suppose is years of spinning classes (I learned last Wednesday that Carol heads spinning classes at one other Y in the area, too), and actual REAL bike riding with her husband, at the end of the class, Carol’s dripping with sweat, just like her students.
When I first started the class, I couldn’t figure out how to get my feet into the little pedal boxes, or how to determine if my discomfort was due to the tiny, hard seat or the adjustments I could make on the bike. The first few classes, though, Carol was right there, adjusting the seat and handlebars and putting my feet into the boxes for me. She made sure I had a towel, and for one class, when the vending machine had failed me, she brought me a bottle of cool water before the class started. And at the end of every class, she’d ask, “You comin back?”
“Yes,” I replied. “See y’all next time!” And as I passed my classmates --because, honey, at first, I was leavin early; ain no way I could “spin” for the full hour—one or two of ‘em would say, “You’re doing good.” “Keep up the good work.” I felt tore down, exhausted, barely able –after thirty minutes—to make it back through the parking lot to my car, but I was grinning.
It’s the class dynamic, the other people looking at me, smiling at me from time to time, and (I guess) hoping I’ll keep up, that will keep me coming. I even got Juice in the class with me. Her spinning’s nothing like mine, of course, she bein only fifteen and slim and beautiful. But looking at her inspires me to stay the course, to keep the cadence to Carol’s crazy jungle-rhythm exercise music –because Juice does it. Last week, my church was in our annual Holy Convocation every night, so I missed my spinning classes. (They meet Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:45.) That week, Juice and I hung out in the Y’s gym in the mornings, messing around on the stationary bikes and ellipticals. Juice complained about that (despite the wider, softer seats). “Twenty minutes? That’s too long, Mommy!” But she stuck with me, and that’s what helped me to stick on the bikes that week.
Juice seldom complains in spinning class. But on Wednesday night, when I’d passed the 45-minute mark, Juice mouthed to me, “Time to go?” I managed to shake my head. Sweat was running into my eyes, my lungs were struggling, and my butt was burning, but when I took an assessment, I believed I could make it to the end this time. “I can do this. I can do this,” I told myself. Just then, Carol turned around from her seat at the front of the class, looked at me, and said, “You stayed!” Another rider said, “I was about to say the same thing.”
“Yeah. She’s usually out the door by now! Whoo!”
Afterwards, I proudly (if awkwardly) managed my way through the after-spin stretches (“You want your muscles lean AND long,” Carol said), and then I limped off to pick up Goobs and her friend from the swimming pool down the hallway.
“Mommy did the whole hour this time,” said Juice.
“I know!” said Goobs.