My relationship with exercise has always been fueled by ulterior motives.
A competitive soccer player at heart, I started running to get in shape for what I thought would be the hardest team tryout in the history of soccer—my high school’s freshman girls’ team.
While it turned out I wasn’t required to run a sub-21-minute 3-miler, that became my goal the summer before high school, and somehow, even as soccer seasons came and went, running stuck.
I love the feeling I get after a great run—they aren’t kidding when they talk about a “runner’s high”—and I love that I can so easily track my progress in mileage and speed.
So I just never really gave much thought to expanding my workout routine, until, inevitably, a pesky knee problem made high-impact workouts no longer a good 5-days-a-week plan.
At the time, I had just graduated college (and consequently “retired” from my semi-competitive college sport), and it was the perfect time to shift my fitness focus. But yoga just seemed to relaxing and the all-the-rage cardio dance classes like Zumba called for far too much coordination and grace.
Until yesterday, I assumed spin class would pose the same problems. It’s for people who don’t know how to get a good workout on their own and who don’t like to sweat, right?
Well. Spin class turned out to be one of the hardest workouts of my life.
I let my competitive nature get the best of me—I had the resistance up too high and I pedaled way too fast to start, tiring myself out before even reaching the half-way point of the class. I neglected my water bottle, thinking I wouldn’t need to hydrate during a simple 45-minute bike ride. I left so completely drenched in sweat I was more than a little light-headed, and my legs are still feeling wobbly on stairs.
It was a whole-body workout: Many of the songs had us standing up, pushing our glutes, quads, and calves to the max. During others we were sitting down, doing mock-push-ups on our handlebars, crunching our abs side to side, and performing a series of bicep, triceps, and shoulder exercises with light weights.
I hadn’t expected to leave with any real sense of accomplishment. I was surprised to find how totally depleted I felt and that I had really enjoyed it.
I could have done without the instructor yelling into her headset about how spinning would give us tight, sexy, little bodies, but next time I’ll just focus more on the music.
Yes, I said next time. Now that I know what to expect, I’m looking forward to trying it again. With padded shorts.