Tag Archives: spinning

Front Row Seat

4 Feb
When it comes to workout mentality, Tracy Flick is my hero. Courtesy of Bitch Flicks

When it comes to workout mentality, Tracy Flick is my hero.
Courtesy of Bitch Flicks

I have a friend whom I’ve known since we were 11 years old. When we were in sixth grade, I hated him. He liked to pick on me. And don’t give me the crap about he just liked me. No, he really just liked to pick on me.

We didn’t really become friends until middle school when I helped tutor him with algebra. Now he’s my best friend. However, to this day he still likes to tease me. He’s just not so mean about it. What he really likes to do is remind me of how much of a nerd I was in school. Anytime I’m starting to feel myself a little too much, he reminds me of my tinted glasses and constant hand-raising in class.

I don’t deny it: I was a good student. I made all As and Bs and didn’t get into any real trouble. There were certain classes where I liked to sit close to the front if I could. My last name starts with a “D,” so that wasn’t usually a problem.

My need to excel in learning has carried over into my fitness life. I love being in the front of the spin or Zumba class. And I’m not alone.

The New York Times recently ran an article about the people who like to “Race to the Front Row.”

One instructor called the students who dash to the front of class the Tracy Flicks of exercise class and said they tend to be Type A. Okay, I’ll take it.


I wasn’t always this way. When I began my weight-loss journey, I was weird kid in class. I kept to the back in each session, praying no one would notice me. It can be incredibly nerve-wracking working out in front of strangers. Add to it doing synchronized movements to an EDM beat and you’ve got a recipe for embarrassment.

It wasn’t uncommon for me just stop in the middle of a Zumba routine and wait for the next sequence to make up for it. You could often see me (if you turned around) stop pedaling up “seated hills” in spin class because my thighs just couldn’t take the pain anymore. And don’t get me started on boot camp. Let’s just say I was a very slow learner there.

But how you begin is not how you’ll end. After a while, my dance past came back to me and I was moving to the Zumba beat. I still hate “seated hills,” but I can keep the pedals moving nonstop. Boot camp is still an issue, but it’s not the death of me as it once was.

The scramble happens only in the most sought-after classes, where a place up front is a status symbol, akin to sitting front row at a concert or fashion show.—nytimes.com

Now that I’ve got the hang of things, I’m able to move to the head of the class. A new spin instructor even said it was a pleasure to have me in the front of class! That compliment allowed me to let my geek flag fly. I was back in middle and high school getting praise from the instructor, and it felt great.

Sitting behind people who don’t know what they’re doing is annoying. Newbies tend to want to be up front so they can see the instructor, while old-heads like myself want to avoid the distraction of newbies…by sitting up front. So what’s the compromise?

I think there’s middle ground where old-heads can occupy the first row and maybe scooch their bikes over a bit so newbies can occupy the second row. That way they’ll see the instructor and have a real person who knows what they’re doing as reference. In Zumba or boot camp, the same applies: leave room for the newbies to see the instructor.

We’re all there to sweat it out and we’ve got to find room to co-exist.

Do you see yourself as a front-row warrior or a back-seat bandit?

Just Keep Spinning

14 Jan

It’s just a bike. It’s not gonna hurt you.

Do you remember when you got your first bike? I learned to ride on my brother’s old bike, which wasn’t very comfortable. But my dad ran behind me, holding on to the seat to keep me steady while I pedaled away. Then he let go and before I knew it he was calling from down the street, telling me to come back.

That was fun. That was almost 25 years ago. Once upon a time, bike riding was fun. Now I don’t do it anymore. But I still get somewhat of a thrill from the pedaling motion with my new workout obsession: spin class.

Let me tell you, I LOVE spin. It is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, but I feel so fulfilled when it’s over. The classes I take are about 45 minutes long and you’re going hard from the time you start to the time you leave. I’ve had several instructors and have never been disappointed.

I started taking spin because I was getting into a rut with running. I still love to run, but the knee pain and need for something different had me looking for something else. I took my first spin class when I was living in Atlanta. The instructor would call out instructions like we were on the Tour de France. “You’ve almost caught that cyclist in front of you!” “We’re going down hill!” “Last climb of the ride!”

It was a little strange, but still fun. And I walked away dripping, which meant I’d done the right amount of work. I take classes now pretty regularly in New York. I go once or twice a week, usually on the weekends, now that it’s freezing here.

Spin helps me keep my leg muscles strong, especially during the winter months when I refuse to run outside. But one of the added benefits has been what it does for core strength. I have no abdominal muscle definition. When you’re cycling on the bike, you have to engage your core. You’re moving between three positions, sometimes at 15-second intervals. Your core is what keeps you from falling over, not the toe cages.

Another added benefit of spin is the music. I have great instructors with great taste in music. One class will have us spinning to the oldies, another will be all hip-hop. I find myself singing along, when I’m not struggling for breath. Plus, you’ll find yourself trying to spin to the beat.

If you’re thinking about a spin class, I suggest first going to see what the studio looks like. You don’t want to be too crowded…unless you like other people’s sweat dripping on you. Also, you’ll be stretching and sometimes getting off the bike. You need room so as not to step on your fellow spinners.

Some people bring special shoes to spin, but I just use old running shoes. The special shoes are for people who are regular cyclists, not just spinners. There are some bikes set up for the special shoes, so have at it if that’s you.

The classes I go to are short, but the time still flies by. You’re in constant motion from the time you set up your bike. It’s encouraged to not stop until the end of class. It’s harder to catch back up. Before class starts, you’ll see people idly spinning away at the lowest level just to warm up.

Don’t let gymtimidation stop you from taking a spin class. It can seem daunting, but every new workout is daunting. Few people are perfect at it, especially at the beginning. Just keep spinning and you’ll get the hang of it.

photo credit: Riviera Fitness/French Riviera via photopin cc