I like cycling – I like leisurely, sunny-Sundays-along-the-River-Tay cycling. The type where you stop for ice lollies at Bells and have a basket full of goodies from the local deli strapped to the front. In this vision my hair is longer, my dress is flowing and there is a soft, slightly out of focus air around me as bluebirds in top hats chirp on my shoulder.
Spinning is not like this. Nor is this now my vision of me on a bike.
I was a regular at spin classes a couple of years ago but in the same way that Mother Nature blocks out the pain of child birth, the reality of class number one has long since worn off. I actually became a bit of a spin nut and as such, believe myself to be good at it. Note to self: you were good at it, because you went twice a week.
So when I mention that Spin was next on my list of exercises to get back into, everyone – without exception – laughed with a throaty, evil guy chuckle. “Good Luck with that!” was the general response.
Live Active advertise three different levels for their spin classes; Spin Start for 30 minutes, Spin Express for 30 minutes and Spin Fit for 45 minutes. They also offer a Les Mills RPM Class which is along a similar line. I decide to knuckle down and go straight into the 30 minute Spin Express, mainly because the 7.30am time at Bells Sports Centre suits me perfectly for work.
The Studio at Bells looks out over the North Inch and gazing out on a clear, sunny morning with blue skies and leafy trees blowing gently in the wind you are lulled into a serene place of calm and beauty. There was nothing – nothing! – beautiful about the sweat in my eyes by the end of it all.
The 7.30am class is packed and my first tip is this – book for spin. It is incredibly popular and there is no guessing which class in a week is going to fill. The good news is there are fourteen options a week for getting on a bike and sweating at Bell’s so there are lots of opportunities for you to give it a go. We were led by Jamie, one of LAL’s long-standing instructors and Duty Manager for Rodney.
I get strapped in, re-familiarise myself with the bikes and what the digital readings mean on the screen and set my water bottle inside my frame. If you’ve never done Spin at any time in the past then you should probably go for a beginner’s class so that you get a feel for the bike and all the settings. Jamie reminds us to drink plenty of water, to breathe in deeply and we’re off.
The full class has around 20 people in two rows and there is a relaxed and warm atmosphere. No-one looks like they’re off to Soul Spin LA style, everyone is just looking for a good workout.
We’re alternating between speed and easy going for about 5 minutes with advice coming as to what gear we should be in and how many RPM we should be aiming for. Jamie gives options at every stage so that everyone is included from the off. He gives shout outs to make sure we’re all doing good and although I want to reply ‘YES’ I can’t actually talk.
UP YOU GET…. We’re standing on the peddles, bums off of seats and we’re moving up a gear. Jamie calls ten minutes and I realise we’re a third of the way through. I am sweating. I’m going, I’m pushing myself, the music is building to a sprint and we’re all pushed to hit the RPM to stop! I suddenly remember why I loved Spin so much. It is fast, it is in your face but it is short and powerful. This suits me perfectly.
I get myself psyched up and spin my legs off – 126… 130… 135… STOP! This means your RPM has hit over 140 and the counter stops. It is a complete thrill to make this happen on day one back in the saddle and I’m feeling very pleased with myself. I make it three time in total over the class, not for long each time and I certainly take low options for the majority of the 30 minutes but I feel like a won a watch!
Sit back down, drop a bit and build it back up. Jamie talks about the trip… the distance you reach during the class as a total. This is what you’re aiming for as an indicator of overall improvement. I make 9.8 on my first class today so the bar has been set. And my Spin Bug is well and truly back in the zone!
30 minutes goes past and we’re off the bikes, stretching our muscles and gradually slowing down our heart rates. I wipe my forehead and face with my arm and hands and taste the salty sweat I’m covered in. My legs are a bit like jelly but I have burned 189 calories in 30 minutes. In my first class. I like this!
Spin was always my favourite “high energy” class – everyone will be different. I have friends hooked on Meta Fit, you might find you love GRIT. If you’re like me and getting back into fitness with a view to making a lifestyle change then use your time wisely and get out and try a few different classes. Finding something you want to do long term is the best way to keep you motivated.
I’ll be honest, if it wasn’t for me committing to a fitness column for Small City, I’d probably have talked myself out of a class like Spin until I was a little fitter; I’d have stuck to the relative safety of my yoga class with circuits thrown in for a bit of cardio every now and then.
And although I was walking like a drunk along to the office, I am feeling really happy that I’ve reminded myself why I loved this great class. The music, the short, fast blast of fitness, the intensity and the feeling of a really good workout at the end of it has left me looking for more Spin…. Who knows, before the year is out I may be back the Double Class Gang!
Check out the Live Active Leisure website for Spin Classes and Les Mills RPM Classes near you.