No cheese on the gym floor
I went to my first spin class yesterday.* It was one part exhilaration mixed with 37 parts nauseating exhaustion. I started off strong, feeling fan-freaken-tastic, cycling like a pro.** Then four minutes and 38 seconds in (there was a digital clock on the wall that was impossible to ignore) I remembered I am not in fact a pro. I am the furthest thing from it. Whenever I’m in a high-energy group setting I get pumped up along with everyone else and forget that I have the cardiovascular ability of a sloth. Also, apparently it’s not wise to shove a cheese string into your mouth while on the way to the gym.
Well I hit my wall, hard and fast. There was a good 10 minutes when I actually though I might throw up. And because I wanted to be able to show my face in the gym again, I eased waaaayyyy off. I swallowed my pride and actually sat down on my bike seat while all the fit people around me sweated through their warm-up. Yes, WARM-UP.
Speaking of sweat, I wish I could. I’m like a pressure cooker when I exercise. I don’t sweat, I just turn bright red as all the heat in my body tries to escape through my head. So while I started hearing steam whistles going off in my ears, I enviously stared at the healthy beads of sweat forming on the seriously fit woman in front of me. The woman next to her had the nerve to actually wrap a towel around her lower back to catch all her buckets of sweat. Show off.
Cardiovascular exercise has never been my thing. I’m not sure if I am terrible at it because I hate it, or if I hate it because I’m terrible at it. All I know is that my heart beating madly while I pant and struggle to force all the oxygen I possibly can into my lungs always feels completely unnatural and highly unsustainable. It is a state I want to get out of as fast as possible. Muscle exertion on the other hand I find pretty enjoyable and I have legs strong enough to crush cafeteria trays to prove it (Scrubs reference…. anyone?).
I did have to admit though that I have gotten a bit out of shape, even for cardiovascularly-challenged me. For a long time I’ve been able to sustain the illusion that I’m in decent shape. A few years ago I managed to get a good gym routine going and actually did get in shape (not in small part due to the fact that the gym I went to had a TV on every cardio machine and I timed my workouts with Sex and the City re-runs). After moving further away from my gym, my visits dropped off but I replaced them with other things like swimming and then later walking the dog. Lower intensity, but I felt like I had conquered this whole “active lifestyle” thing.
Then along the way I lost my swimming buddy (she just moved, she didn’t actually go missing) and “walking” my dog turned mostly into clipping her leash off at the park and watching her play. But because I regularly left the house in running shoes and own a sizable collection of Lululemon workout clothing, I had my brain believing I was active. The illusion was further sustained by my weight staying practically the same – the muscle was just quietly turning into flab.
Well last week, I finally upgraded my gym membership so I can use the gym that is two blocks from my office. And I’ll have you know I made it through that spin class without losing any of the contents of my stomach thankyouverymuch, even if it did mean my bike’s resistance was set at barely past “moves with its own momentum.”
I might even try it again sometime. But probably not this week.
*OK, not strictly my first, I did one about 3 years ago, but I think I have since earned back my spin-class virginity.
**In fact, like one of the pros I was staring at on the projector screen, which was showing footage from Tour de France. Is this a thing in spin classes? Or just in my show-offy downtown gym?