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My New Spin Class: The 10th Circle of Hell

August 18, 2010

Dante’s Inferno had 9 circles of Hell.  Each became more complex and twisted and ugly the deeper he journeyed through them.  Why Virgil agreed to be his guide, I have no idea, but I would challenge both Dante and Virgil to come with me into the 10th circle of Hell that could easily be part of their illustrious Inferno:  Spin Class.

I first started spinning in a small town at a very small gym with people that all averaged an age somewhere around 50.  I was the golden child of the class because I was the only one who hadn’t had my knees replaced yet, and I liked my comfortable little spin studio where I always got my same exact bike next to the same exact person who called me “pumpkin” when she said hello.  I knew it would be a challenge to replace my old spin class, but I was encouraged when I found out that the gym not far from our new house had cycling classes.  Fantastic, I thought, this will be great.

At my old gym, I used to call in the morning to be put on the spin list and “Haw-vey” would answer.  Haw-vey was at the gym desk every single day; a rather short man who had to have a special stool brought in so that his face would reach the counter.  Haw-vey always smiled at me, and always encouraged me to call ahead for spin class, even though there were never more than 7 or 8 of us in the room that held 15.  As I left each class he would tell me “Law-ren, keep spinnin!”  Men like Haw-vey can never be replaced.

My new gym has an electronic sign up system.  I should have known what I was getting myself into when I created myself an account to log in, only to find that every morning class was full for the next 3 days.  Seriously?  Did I need to set an alarm to sign up within the 36 hour window?  Maybe I needed my own personal Charon to carry me across the river and into a spin seat.  I finally found an afternoon class and got in.

I was ready to go for my first class.  Awesomely awkward men’s bike shorts were on (purchased begrudgingly when my thighs wouldn’t fit into women’s bike shorts), water bottle was filled, and I walked in to the rubber matted room and found a seat.  I smiled at the women next to me.  Then I heard the sound.  Clip.  Clip.  Clip.  Snap.  Clip.  Snap. All around me the clips and snaps fired off.  Crap.  I’m in a room full of Clippers.  Clippers are otherwise known as fancy spinners, real spinners, people who paid good money for expensive shoes that clip and snap into the spin pedals.  Clippers are serious.  They mean business.  They carry two towels, two water bottles, and are the kind of people that will shove you out of the way if you dare to hover over “their” bike before class starts.  The entire room was Clippers.  I was the only one with ghetto running shoes, the only one who had to go up to the instructor and ask for shoe straps for the pedals.  She stared at me, and kindly smiled.  “Is this your first time?” she asked in an all too cheery tone.  No!  No, this is not my first time!  I have been doing this for months, thank you very much, and just because I can’t “clip-in” like everyone else does not mean I haven’t done this before.  My straps and I had been judged.

Forget about it, I told myself.  Just get on the bike and prove the Clippers wrong.  Yeah, stick it to the man, I thought.  I started my preemptive warm up spin.  I sat up straight, looking around the room to appear casual and nonchalant.  When it seemed like we had all warmed up the instructor plugged in her iPod and got the music pumping.  Yeah, I was feeling good.  I knew how to do this.  The instructor walked to the back of the room and dimmed the lights, as is typical in most spin classes.  Rock on, I thought, I expected that.  She knows what she’s doing.  But then she turned the lights off.  Completely off.  I was in utter blackness, straining my eyes to find my towel and water in front of me.  I reached forward and accidentally touched the butt of the woman in front of me.  Crap.  Remain calm, remain calm.  She was apparently too into her warm up to notice, thank God.  Okay, spinning in the dark, just something new to get used to.  I can do this.  Then the instructor flipped on another light.  A neon light.  It glowed from the back of the room and lit up everything with the faintest hint of white.  It was like we were playing Laser Tag.  I could see the whites on my socks and the lint on my bike shorts from when I washed them yesterday.  I looked up at the mirrors and my teeth were glowing.  Just perfect – laser tag spin class with the Clippers.  I bet my ghetto shoes mean I will be the first one to get shot.

Midway through the class, I felt like I was doing all right.  I was keeping up with this instructor’s new style and dripping the same amount of sweat as everyone else in the Laser Tag room seemed to be.  We climbed up our 4th or 5th set of the evening when I became very tired.  Extremely tired.  When we were told to stand up and “run it out” on the bike, my legs felt like putty.  They were almost moldable – ready to bend and fold in any random direction.  “Give me 110%” my instructor shouted out.  Someone yelped from the back.  “Pick it up, don’t let it go!” she yelled again.  I was breathing so hard I could taste blood in my mouth.  Another yelp came from someone to my right.  Good gracious, these people are freaks.  “Can we keep climbing?”  the instructor yelled out.  “Hell, yeah!” screamed a man in the room.  These people are crazy.  They are a bunch of Clipping, yelping Laser Taggers who have banned together in a battle call to wipe out the first victim they can find.  And tonight it would be me.  We kept climbing another hill and I succumbed to the fact that I was in Hell.  Spinning Hell.  We were all there, but it seemed no one other than me was aware of it.

I left class that night and thought of calling Haw-vey at my old gym to see if I could buy a pass for just spinning classes.  I almost called, but then thought better of it.  I’m in a new place with my new husband and need to embrace these new challenges.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself for now.  I shockingly went back to spin class at my new gym again, and yet again found myself in Hell.  Perhaps I am a glutton for punishment, but perhaps I am traveling through my own spinning Inferno.  If I keep going back to class, perhaps I will dig deeper into the layers of Hell until finally I have gone so deep that there is nowhere else to go but back up.  I just need to find my own personal Virgil to carry me out.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 12:13 pm

    I don’t know what is more hilarious, the thought of you baing the only non-clipper in men’s shorts or that you touched that poor woman’s butt. I love you..

  2. Erika Wolberg permalink
    August 27, 2010 12:03 am

    you are hilarious! 🙂

  3. Alyssa Fisher permalink
    August 27, 2010 1:42 pm

    Evan tweeted a link to this, and I had to share that I never went back after my first spin class (it was in a similar type of spin studio). The worst part for me was that the pain is self-inflicted, as we had to turn up the resistance ourselves on our bikes.

    Also, your post about…your underwear…had in me both funny and emotional tears. Wonderful.

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