You spin me right round, baby, right round

A friend of mine just asked if I want to join her for a spin class this week. Truthfully, she’s been asking me to come to a spin class for about a year. I keep saying no, simply because I’m a big fat chicken. Bok bok.

I don’t know what it is about spin classes but they intimidate the crap out of me. Everyone seems to be one step away from Tour de France qualification, you have to attach yourself to the equipment so you can’t run away and it’s an entire hour of working my wimpiest muscle group, the one that’s always first to cry uncle.

Also, I’ve just discovered you have to book—and pay for—the bike in advance. So I can’t fall back on my usual habit and come up with some elaborate, last minute excuse to save my quads from this imagined hell. Not unless I want to kiss $20 goodbye. That kind of money could buy five coffees or two jars of amazing peanut butter. That logic should give you a good indication as to why spin class is a necessary addition to my life.

I have never been athletically-inclined. Back in grade school, we had sports days when everyone in the school would compete to earn points for their house. The only event I can remember participating in was the mandatory 100 yard sprint. They would blow the whistle and I would run like I had never run before. Run like there was a tiger chasing me. Run like there was an ice cream truck about to disappear around the corner. I focused on the goal and gave it my all. Then I watched each one of my classmates cross the finish line while I continued to knock my knees half way down the field.

Despite my inabilities, I convinced myself that joining a sports teams in high school was a great way to convince people I was not a loser. The only team that didn’t have try-outs was the swim team. I guess they figured it didn’t matter how good you were as long as you weren’t going to drown. The good kids would win. The kids like me would lose but get half a day off school. Win win!

My biggest problem with swimming, other than not being able to breathe, is the flip turn. There is something in the logic of the movement that is completely lost on me. I experienced this same lack of comprehension more recently in step class, only this time I didn’t end up going sideways through someone else’s territory, which is precisely what I did at my first and final swim meet.

After that, I think I accepted that fitness would never really be a part of my life. I created a narrative of failure in my mind. I dabbled with it every once in a while, but always felt like it was on a higher plain than I could ever reach. Every class I tried would leave me dying on the floor or wiping away tears. Again, I would see everyone else trudging forward, rocking those mountain climbers like they were born to run horizontally. And there I would be, sloppy and uncoordinated, unable to handle the burn.

But two months ago, my spin friend asked if I would join her for a birthday fitness class. You have to understand, this woman would do anything for her friends. She gave me one of the best birthdays I’ve had in years. So the absolute least I could do for her on her birthday was endure an hour of pain and embarrassment.

To my shock and amazement, the class was incredible. The instructor was amazing, the music was motivating and the moves felt like they were going to make a difference. I loved every minute, even the parts where my quads felt like they were swimming in acid.

I officially drank the BODYPump Kool-Aid and have kept coming back for more. I even tried some cardio classes, despite my hate-hate relationship with cardio. The step class is the most amusing. The instructor said it takes about ten tries to graduate from uncoordinated mess to only slightly incompetent. Seven more to go and no ankle injuries yet!

So what’s happening with spin? I swallowed my fear and said yes—not just because she dangled a post-workout carrot by making a dinner reservation at our favourite restaurant. This time, I think I can actually do it.