If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are -- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time. - Joseph Campbell
A few weeks ago I joined a gym. Since then I have been going to spin class twice a week and I. Am. Hooked.
There is no doubt in my mind - spinning is my bliss. This is why I love it:
I get to class a few minutes before it starts and join the group of people waiting to get into the room. The previous class lets out and the janitors enter with their mops and buckets to clean up the pools of sweat that have accumulated under the bikes. One of the great things about spinning - it makes you SWEAT.
We enter the room and start adjusting our bikes - seat, handlebars, etc. A good setup is important. If your bike is not set up properly, you will pay for it the next day.
The teacher starts the music and a fast song with a heavy beat blares out from the stereo as we begin to peddle.
"UUUUUUP," he yells. We rise from our seats in unison, bend over our handlebars and peddle to the beat. Left, right, left right; 22 bikers in perfect synchronization. In this moment, the day's stresses fall from my mind. For the next 60 minutes the only thing that matters is the ride.
A girl hurries into the room a few minutes late. She quickly adjusts her bike, grabs the handlebars and hops sideways onto the seat. "What a badass," I think. I know if I tried that move, I'd miss the seat and fall to the ground.
By this time we have been riding for about 5 minutes. My heart is pumping, I can barely catch my breath, and sweat is oozing out of my pores.
"HAVE A SEAT. IT'S TIME TO GET STARTED."
The music changes to a slower song; still loud, still a heavy beat.
"HEAVY TENSION ON THOSE BIKES, HEAVY!"
Next to me a short, Latina girl yells out, "HEAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVVYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!" I call her La Sirena - The Siren. She mimics the teacher's instructions in a loud, echoing voice for the entire hour. At first it annoyed me, but now it makes me laugh, and when she misses a class, we all yell out echoed instructions in her place.
We adjust the tension on our bikes and begin the slow climb. Legs shaking, muscles burning, we struggle for each turn of the peddles. Left, right, left, right; we shift from side to side in perfect, military formation.
As the song tapers off, a new one starts - faster than the last one, and with a frantic, techno beat. It's time for sprints.
To be fair, "sprint" may be the wrong word as these are not short burst of momentum, but rather long, unending, torturous stretches of speed. They maybe last 2 to 3 minutes, but at 120 or more rpm, it feels like a lifetime. Sprints are pure torture, but we all do them diligently.
Most teachers would give you a break after 4 rounds of sprints, but not this one.
"UUUUUUUP! MAKE SURE TO BREATHE!"
We rise shakily from our seats, panting and struggling to keep our momentum.
This position is a teaser. Standing in a crouched position, hovering inches over the seat, your instinct is to relax and sit. No can do, buddy. Fire up those glutes and hold your position!
"MODERATE TENSION ON THOSE BIKES, WE'RE DOING POP-UPS!"
Pop-ups are my favorite part of class. We ride in standing position for four beats and then switch to a low standing position for four beats. Back and fourth, four beats up, four beats down; it is an obsessive compulsive's perfect workout.
The class goes on with variations of these exercises for about 50 minutes. Then comes the final workout.
"LAST SONG, TWO SPEEDS. SPEED 1 DOESN'T MATTER. SPEED 2...KICK ASS."
The song starts as people grab for their water bottles, wipe off their faces, and prepare to dig deep. It's one of those songs that is deceptively slow in the beginning, but after a few seconds, the beat starts to pick up.
"THE LAST HOUR DOESN'T MATTER. THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME HERE FOR...ARE YOU READY!?!?"
We all scream, "YEAH!"
"I SAID, ARE YOU READY!!?!?!?"
The beat gets faster.
The song gets a little bit louder.
"DOUBLE TIME! GO! GO! GOOOOOO!!!!"
The beat takes off and so do we. Spinning our legs as fast as we can, hearts pumping, blood pounding, we give it everything we have and then some. Faster and faster, we reach our top speeds and struggle to hold on to them.
"KEEP WITH IT!"
The teacher's yelling gives us all a burst of energy and we pick up the pace, the motion of our legs blurring.
Finally, mercifully, the song ends and we slow to a human pace once again.
After a brief cool down and some stretching, the teacher tells us to give ourselves a hand and we all clap and cheer.
It's at this point that I grab my empty water bottle, my sweat-soaked towel, and my keys and slowly drag myself to the car.