Friday, December 14, 2007

Spinning 'round the world

I came to the realization today that I have done indoor cycling in four countries, in three languages. Not to brag or anything, but yeah, I know...pretty big accomplishment. Now ask me how many museums I have been to in various countries. Ummm....

Actually, spinning varies a lot from place to place, I've found. In Brazil, it's all about the bells and whistles. And the techno. The incessant, horrible techno. (* In Argentina, it's about harsh criticism and jutting collarbones. In Chile, it's about getting your ass kicked in a bright room. In the U.S., at least at the Harvard Law gym, it's about old people yelling out stuff and stirring up pointless competition with the other people in the room who also are on bikes that aren't actually going anywhere.

I have sort of a love-hate relationship with my spinning class here. Part of it is in my own fault -- I go to 7:15 AM spinning on Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday. That time slot alone is going to guarantee a healthy percentage of psychos in any given exercise class. But the people who come to my spinning class bring things to an unexpected level of psychosis that is at once deeply pathetic and surprisingly irritating.

The class is made up of a hardcore group of "regulars," five or six of whom are in their mid-30s to late 40s, wear knee braces, give each other high-fives, and wear bandanas. They always sit in the back row of class and save each other bikes, even though that's not really necessary since they all tend to line up outside the spinning room at 6:50 before the instructor comes to unlock it.

At this point, you're probably thinking, "Okay, maybe they're just intense people and this is all they have, Stephanie. Maybe spinning is the bright spot on their otherwise empty and meaningless day and that's why they come to class half an hour early. Stop being such a judgmental b**** about it." Normally I'd probably agree with you -- and in a sense, I do believe that morning spinning is probably the highlight of each of these people's social lives. HOWEVER -- once class starts, whatever shred of empathy I had for them evaporates away, just as soon as the yelling starts.

The yelling? Oh yes -- the regulars are yellers. Sometimes they yell out actual words, like "LOVE IT," which is obviously an awful thing to yell out in any setting, but mostly they just make noises, like "WHOOooooP!" and "OOOweeee!" It's embarrassing. It makes me feel like I'm overhearing something shameful and sad. There's one middle aged lady who wears hoop earrings and chews gum the whole class who shrieks in a particularly grating way. There's another guy who ties a towel around his head and trash talks whatever row of bikes he's not in for the entire 55 minutes of class. ("That's the best you can do, front row? COME ON!")

Maybe the compassionate among you are still thinking, "That's not so bad. Those people are just expressing themselves. You know, the third rule of spinning is FUN, Stephanie. Why are you trying to begrudge them that, you hateful shrew?" My answer to you kind-hearted souls is -- because it's annoying as f***.

You see, when I'm trying to spin, which requires focusing, digging in, trying not to have a cardiac episode during particularly challenging "hills," the last thing I need to hear is "LOVE IT" or "WHOOOPPPP" or "BACK ROW KICKS ASS!" All I want to hear is the music. Oh, also, these people sing along to all the songs played in class, and one of them, the ringleader of the group, routinely requests a bizarre, hip-hop version of "Stayin' Alive" and then freaks out when it comes on.

Are you getting the picture here? At all?

Maybe some of you out there are big yellers and singers and trash talkers in spinning class, too. I know I won't get through to you, because you're insane. But for the rest of you, unless you're like me and can handle some serious, hardcore annoyance with your indoor cycling, don't drop into the 7:15 spin classes at Hemenway. Don't say I didn't warn you.

*Except for the one time my Brazilian spin instructor, Marcelo, played "Namibian Girl" every day for a week or so. That was weird.


  1. so ive read this entry like 5 times over the past month or so, and i just cant get enough! makes me laugh everytime. -john

  2. Anonymous6:27 PM

    Spin class dynamics are an amazing microcosm --- I see it every day. We have a couple of dedicated studios in Wellesley and Newton (Spynergy) --- with many spinners who have been coming for years. Something about the dark room?