On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spinning: is it worth it?

So, I have a bike.  But I get lazy about riding it.  It's not laziness so much as it is laziness tinged with fear.  New York cyclists are an insane breed of daredevils who talk about getting hit by cars as an inevitability, rather than a possibility.  I ride around on errands, but it's more of a thrill ride than it is exercise.

But, I need some form of crosstraining and I don't care for the elliptical.  And I want the benefits of cycling.  Also, I like guidance in my workouts.  Left on my own, I run the risk of not pushing myself and taking the easy way out.  I always thought that spinning classes were some sort of über-hip, super trendy fad.  Then I started taking them, and I'm still on the fence.  But I like the knowledge that when I enter the room, I will be moving for the next 45 minutes and a perky instructor will be yelling at me to work harder.  I hate the loud music, though, which I guess makes me an old person.

I've learned (the hard way) that I can both run and spin on the same day, only as long as there's a break in the middle.  Like running in the morning and spinning at night, or vice versa.  I'll never be a competitive duathlete, sadly - I can't shoot and my x-country skiing is out of practice.  (Does the duathlete/biathlete joke ever get old?)

Anyway, my most recent spin class was one for the ages.  Let me tell you the tale of the gentleman on the bike next to me, whom I shall call Annoying Spin Guy.  ASG looked normal, at first: sort of a cross between Anderson Cooper and Harrison Ford in unflatteringly tight shorts.  He came into class a few minutes late - no biggie, it was nearly empty - and he spent the first 10 minutes doing his own thing: elaborate stretches on the bike, warm up rides, adjusting and readjusting the bike, switching to a new bike, etc.

At this point, I was down with it.  Becoming a regular gym goer has taught me patience like nothing else.  I used to get annoyed at every person I saw doing something I deemed "wrong," but now I'm zen about it.  As long as I get my workout in, it's all good.  Or so I thought...  until this class.

ASG finally caught up with the class, and then the fun began.  First, he smelled.  I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt - could it be me that stank? - and that worked for a while.  Then he started grunting.  Every pedal was "uh, hunh, oof," etc., like he was playing in the USOpen - but louder.  Okay, weird.  But still, I wasn't too fazed.

And then...
And then he SPAT.  I kid you not.  Granted, he had a towel draped across his handlebars so he was technically spitting into his towel.  GROSS, sir, GROSS.

Just in case I was mistaken the first time, he proceeded to do it several more times throughout the workout.

And at the end, for a pièce de resistance, he belched.  Loudly.  Loudly enough that he said, "excuse me!" to the whole class.


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