On spinning

It’s 5:15 a.m., and the lights are dimmed in the “spinning room” at Body Solutions, a fitness center in Bluffton, Ind.,  where my sister the fitness freak has instructed me to meet her for a class.

I’d heard of spinning but never figured out what exactly was being spun. Turns out it’s the “spinning wheels” on exercise bikes, rode under the watchful gaze of a drill sergeant who shouts commands for tension knob twists, standing sprint peddles, and yes, even pushups, using the handlebars as a base.

Each command is followed by a brusque “C’mon! C’mon!” that makes some class members wonder whether our instructor might also be a labor nurse. I’m a bit nervous as we begin peddling. I know I’m in decent shape from jogging, but this obviously uses different muscles. I flail about a bit, getting the feel of the bike and the various commands, then settle into the rhythm of the pounding music and just go along for the ride.

Here’s my assessment of this workout:
1. Was it fun? Kind of. It was nice to do something different, and it was “fun” to realize I’m in good enough shape to endure a class like this without collapsing. Mixing up the speeds and positions makes it more interesting than merely peddling along on a fake bike. But I couldn‘t help thinking it would be even more fun to ride a bike tethered to a Wii-type format, where your moves would play out on a view screen.

2. Was it a good workout? Yes. It wasn‘t as tough as I expected, but then I jog 3-4 times a week so my lungs are used to working hard. Because it was my first “spin,” it’s also likely that I wasn’t cranking the tension knob far enough or pedaling fast enough. It would be cool if these bikes could give you a digital speed and tension read-out, so the instructor could tell you exactly what level to aim for.

3. Was it worth $6? I’d say so, especially if you measure the price against dropping an equivalent amount at Starbuck’s or McDonald’s. I wouldn’t want to pay $6 every session if I did this more than once a week, but you don’t have to — there are package deals available.

4. Will I go back? This isn’t likely to become my main workout venue, because I love jogging outdoors when the weather’s decent and I’ve already got access to the fitness equipment at the PAL Club. But I could see “spinning” every once in a while as a break from my usual routine.

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