Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sassyfats Rides Again!

Remember back when I took my first spin class? That was the day that I learned the true meaning of the phrase, “Mah biscuits are burnin’!!” I vowed that despite the pain, I would do it again. Yeah, that was a while back. Turns out I was a wee bit hesitant to get back in that torture device saddle after all. Well after a good bit of peer pressure from Miracle Man and his group of gym friends, I FINALLY made it back for my second class. And, lo and behold, my third.

I am happy to report that the experience was less painful the second and third time around. The class is usually 45 minutes to an hour, and I've worked my way up to an astonishing (for me) 31 minutes. And when I get off the bike, I feel pretty good. A little shaky, but good.

Yesterday when I was setting up my bike, I met the 6:30 instructor for the first time. She looked vaguely familiar, but was not someone I’d seen a whole lot around the gym. It was obvious from the skeptical look on her face that she had not seen me there a whole lot, either. I told her that I was excited for my third ride and I was aiming to make it through at least 30 minutes. I do not want to leave the impression that she was unkind, because she was a very nice person, but she hesitated before saying, “This is your third spin class ever?” I told her that yes, I was a spinning newbie (which would totally be an awesome name for an angst-ridden Nirvana cover band), but that I thought I was starting to get the hang of it.

Another hesitation. She then said, “I have to warn you: the first day of the month is race day. It’s the most intense ride we offer.”

I started to ask if I should skip it, then thought better. I’d left work 15 minutes early just to go to spin class. I wanted an intense workout. Holloway’s schedule has been crammed full of paying customers the last several weeks, and I've missed having someone standing over me telling me to dig deeper and push harder when I want to quit. (Thank you, Sir! Can I have another?)

Suppressing the urge to leap at the chance to get out of spin class, I verified that it would be OK to go at my own pace. She looked relieved and said, “Of course!!” Then she got all friendly like your average fitness instructor. I think she just didn't want to have to say something along the lines of, “Yo, Fatty. Don’t give yourself a heart attack in my class tryin’ to keep up. Mmmkay?”
It’s OK, Fitness Instructor. I knows I’s fat.
I knows I’s got some limitashuns.
And I knows how much funzies I has bustin’ stereotypes when I gives it my alls.
As I finished preparing my bike, I started mentally preparing for the race. I knew it would be a tough ride, and I knew I’d have to pedal faster than ever before. But thanks to my inner coach, I also knew that I was up to the challenge. I knew that I could do anything I put my mind to. I knew that if I could hang with the big dogs over by the weight stacks, I could keep up with the cool kids on the spin bikes. I. Was. Ready.

Then class started. The instructor said, “OK, your RPMs should be between 85 and 100 for the warm-up,” and my inner coach was all like, “Sorry I gotchya into this, Kiddo. Best of luck to ya.”
Thanks for nuffin', Craig T. Nelson
Despite the sudden withdrawal of my pre-class confidence, I reduced the tension on the flywheel and managed to get my RPMs up to about 79. I figured that was close enough and settled into that pace. And by “settled,” I mean I spun the peddles as fast as my chubby legs could possibly manage and fervently hoped I wouldn’t knock myself off the bike.

After the warm-up, we started racing uphill. I increased the tension on my flywheel like a good student and tried like hell to keep my RPMs at least in the 70s. Reaching the prescribed 100 RPMs was simply not gonna happen. As I continued to think of this class as a race, I imagined we were on a scenic wooded trail. Come, join me in my daydream.

Picture it: My imagination, 2012. My fellow classmates were decked out in full speed-biking regalia, complete with sleek helmets, brightly-colored tops, padded bike shorts, and those funky hard-soled shoes made just for biking. They rode top-of-the-line bikes at a pace that would impress Lance Armstrong. They looked the part, and they all jockeyed for position along the path.

Then there was me. While my opponents were getting down to serious business on their serious racing bikes, I was bringing up the rear in my own style. I was wearing an old T-shirt and shorts (just like I wear to the gym) and I had pigtails (the hairstyle, not a swine’s body part) peeking out from under my hot pink helmet that was all blinged out with bedazzled skulls, crossbones, and tiaras. My bike was also hot pink and sparkly (to match the helmet, of course!), and it had streamers coming out of the handlebars. I sat proudly astride the 1970s-era banana seat (royal blue with pink sparkles), sounding my honky horn every so often as I waved like a princess to onlookers, pedaling like hell as my bright-orange safety flag blew triumphantly in the wind.

Believe it or not, amusing myself with this bit of imagery helped me hang in there. I wanted to stop at the 15-minute mark, but I decided to back off the tension a little and keep going instead. I wanted to quit at the 20-minute mark, but we were only halfway up a hill and it would be anti-awesome to wimp out then. By the time the 25-minute mark came, I was so into the music that I couldn't help but keep going. Then when the 31-minute mark came, I was done. Enough. I’d exceeded my goal by one whole minute, I'd finally crested that damn hill, and I felt good.
I freakin' DIT IT, y'all!
They say it takes at least three spin classes to decide if you like it. I think they’re right. I have three classes under my belt, and I’m looking forward to the fourth. I’ll continue increasing my time goals by five minutes per class until I no longer have to leave early. The more I think about it, the more excited I get about this new leg of my fitness journey and where it may take me.

I just wonder if anyone would mind if I mount a honky horn and streamers to my handlebars.  

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