Spin Spin Spin

by Abby Horowitz | 5/29/01 5:00am

My alarm goes off at 6:24 on Monday and Wednesday mornings. I munch on some bran flakes, slip into my always styling workout wear (ha) and run across the street to the gym, towel and water bottle in hand. By 6:45, I'm seated on the bike and ready for spinning class to begin. An hour later, my cheeks are flushed, sweat drips down my neck, my t-shirt is damp. (Unfortunately, due to time conflicts, it is in this lovely state that I then run to drill and sit for the next fifty minutes dreaming of drill's end so I can rush home and take a shower. My apologies to my fellow students in Portuguese drill who have to sit next to me). Thus, before it's even eight in the morning, I've already gotten in an intense workout, burned somewhere in the neighborhood of 500-600 calories, and am energized for the rest of my day.

Ah, spinning.

A quick rundown for those of you in the dark about this recent fitness trend. Spinning is basically like riding an indoor stationary bike, but much more challenging. If that's not enough of an explanation for you, go take a class and experience it for yourself. I first discovered spinning this past fall when I went to a sample class offered at the start of the term. The class got me sweating like I hadn't sweat in a long time; I knew this was a workout I couldn't pass up.

And so, I spun three times a week in the late afternoons during fall term, working up a good appetite for dinner and getting rid of my last PE requirement at the same time. I was worried that during my off-term this past winter in Washington, D.C. I would have to give up spinning. But, as luck would have it, my sister took me with her to her weekly spinning class and thus I was saved from spinning withdrawal.

And now, this spring term, an hour of spinning first thing in the morning, twice a week.

I have run cross-country, ice-skated, snow-shoed, done that whole aerobics thing in many variations--spinning is the hardest. (Ok, running is hard too, but spinning is much easier on the joints.) Oh! but the pain of spinning is a good pain! I can just feel those leg muscles growing as I pedal. I'll be damned if I don't beat my dad in our traditional father-daughter bike races this summer.

Besides the bike itself, the background music played during class is essential for any spinning experience. I've pedaled to everything from country to techno. It is amazing how certain songs can really motivate me to pedal harder. After hearing Sonique's "That's What Takes Me Higher" during almost every spinning session in fall term, I became so conditioned to that song's driving force that just listening to it in my dorm room could give me enough energy to get cracking on a paper. Other songs aren't quite as inspiring. Although I have nothing against Jewel, listening to her crooning doesn't exactly push me to get my pulse moving.

In the fall, I spun alongside two Dartmouth professors. This past winter in D.C., I biked next to a man who worked at the Peace Corps headquarters. There are a couple of good-humored medical students in my class now, which has resulted in some interesting experiences. Last week, two of their friends decided to come watch the class through the outside of the window. So I arrived that morning to find two men in bathrobes and slippers sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk in front of the spinning room window. As we spun our hearts out, our two visitors ate donuts and coffee and read the newspaper, occasionally calling through the window to check the vitals of their friends. They stayed there for the entire hour. True story. That started my day on a rather surreal note.

Yes, the smell of sweat in the spinning room can be overwhelming. And yes, the seats of the spinning bikes are none too friendly on the bum. But for a workout like this, that's a small price to pay.

Oh, and a shout-out to our dynamite spinning instructor, Marie-Helene. I couldn't ask for a better way to start the morning.