Archive for November 2005

Spin, you bastard!

In an effort to improve my overall health and curb the expansion of my already oversize gut, I am attending spinning classes at the YMCA three times a week at 6AM. For those of you who have never heard of spinning, the short definition is: stationary bike. The more sophisticated definition is a series of aerobic exercises set to music that incorporate various positions and resistance levels on a (ahem) stationary bike.

Why spinning? Because its simple: I can already pedal a bike, so I don’t need any embarrassing learning time like I would in some aerobics class or tai-chi or organized sport. I don’t have to feel like a pathetic beginner right out of the gate. And since I have an actual bike, I figure it will help me improve my riding stamina. Another reason is that its an actual organized class.  If its my own regimen I tend not to care very much whether I do it or not; its fairly easy to veto myself on that. As for classes, I feel much more obliged to be there. I signed my name to that attendance sheet, and dagnabit I’ma gonna be there!

Why six o’clock in the friggin’ morning!?! Well, I noticed in past exercise regimens I have imposed on myself, if I committed to excercise in the afternoon, it became much easier for me to blow it off (too tired, got too much work, gotta run errands). So this time I decided that to force some discipline into the proceedings I committed to a ridiculous schedule (waking up at 5:30 to be there by 6 – hey, its ridiculous by my standards!) and promised myself to stick to it. So far I have been a good boy: going on two full months and only missed 2 or 3, and even then I attempted to make up for them by going in the afternoon or to a weekend class. To further expand on the success of the early morning regimen, my “in-between” days were going to include lifting weights after classes, but this is rapidly being missed regularly – I may have to move this to the AM as well.

So the program is proceeding apace, and I am starting to see some benefits of my diligence. But as in all exercise endeavors I try, I wage an internal battle of brain vs. body. I’m no athlete (those that know me are now saying “Well, duh!”), and I haven’t been the most active individual throughout life, so to push the body into physical exertion causes a great deal of resistance. So throughout the spinning session there is a war raging between the intentions of my brain and its reasoned arguments for exercise, and my flabby physique, screaming out to stop this insanity and hit the couch. This dialogue is further compounded by the instructor, whose job it is to set our routine and bark encouraging affirmations to keep us motivated. Naturally, my body doesn’t enjoy this kind of encouragement, and he takes it out on the ol’ brain. Here follows a transcript of a typical exchange during the heat of a spinning session:

  • Instructor: Okay, set the resistance to 9 or 10 [maximum], and get to position 3 [sort of a standing position] for a long climb!
  • Brain: Wow, another climb. That’s the third one this session.
  • Body: GGRRAHH! F**k this! I’m freaking sore as hell! I’m sitting down!
  • Brain: No! We’ll look like wusses!
  • Body:Shut up! This is YOUR fault! I would still be sleeping right now if it
    weren’t for you! Remind me who it was that wanted to stay up til 1:30AM?
  • Brain: I know, I know you’re tired. But we have a commitment.
  • Body: No, YOU made a commitment! I don’t wanna be here!
  • Brain: It’s for your own good…
  • Body: Don’t pull that s**t! Don’t guilt me with that! If you want me to do this quietly then get to sleep earlier you…
  • Instructor: Alright! Double time! Pick up the paaaaaaaace!
  • Brain: What!?
  • Body: NOOOOO! No freaking way! I ain’t speeding up! I’m gasping as it is!
  • Brain: C’mon, we can do it!
  • Body: NO!
  • Brain: Please?
  • Body: NO NO NO NO NO!
  • Brain: OK, how about we speed up, then we can slow back down before she tells us to?
  • Body: Rrrr…OK then.
  • Instructor: 3…2…1…OK back to normal speed.
  • Brain: Now was that so bad?
  • Body: Yes…
  • Brain: Come on now…
  • Body: Alright, it wasn’t that bad. But I’m still mad!
  • Brain: Oh quit griping. It’s not as bad as it was at the beginning right?
  • Body: Yeah, I suppose it’s not…Doesn’t mean I have to like it!
  • Brain: Yeesh!
  • Instructor: OK, back in the saddle, resistance to low, get a drink of water and towel off a moment.
  • Body: Finally! Get to relax a bit!

It goes on like this for pretty much the whole 40 minutes. Eventually the class ends, I get to relax a bit and body and brain make up.  Actually, as the sessions have come and gone, spinning has generated less and less consternation from the body. My brain says we need to set our resistance higher to push me. I think my body isn’t going to like this…