It rained in San Diego. Actually it poured. Five inches in five days.
Five inches of rain in San Diego is like two feet of snow in New York City. Drivers lose their minds and control of their cars.
With this weather there was no way I was doing my typical street bike ride along the coast.
So I went to my first spin class.
A fish out of water?
Disco is back!
That was my first reaction walking into the spin class. The room was dark. The room’s lighting came from blue light tubes. The only thing missing was a ceiling disco ball.
I found a bike at the back of the room, three down from the door.
Surveying my fellow spinners, I was one of two men out of twenty. I was the only participant not wearing a Lululemon-like outfit.
Then the music started. I was back into disco! Strong, repetitive rhythmic beat. Too loud.
Everyone began pedaling. My instructor started screaming through a microphone head set. Boom, boom, boom. Yell, yell, yell.
“Dial up,” the instructor yelled.
There was an orange dial at the base of my bike. Twisting it down made the pedaling harder. I kept twisting it down with each “Dial up!” Was I?
Am I man enough?
After about 15 minutes the yells became, “Don’t stop!”
“You should be feeling the burn or YOU ARE NOT DOING IT RIGHT!”
My alpha male ego rose up inside me.
I was being judged.
OMG! How many of my spin peers know I am not feeling the burn?
I turned my dial down further and pedaled harder.
“If you are not breathing hard you are not working,” was screamed over boom, boom, boom.
The sweat started pouring off me. I must be doing it right. But was it enough to earn respect? I was back in high school. “Do you think she likes me?”
Then a casualty occurred. A women walked out. She did not look happy.
I looked around at the survivors. They did not look happy either. I was in a room filled with very focused and intense women. Danger Zone!
Spinning hell finally ended. The group did stretching. I slinked out of the room like I was exiting a biker bar.
I did have a good workout. My heart rate was elevated. My t-shirt was sweaty.
I also felt intense. On edge. Nothing like the happier, calmer more positive me after my typical 10 mile bike ride along the coast.
My informal survey
I asked a couple of women about the class.
They loved it. Who knew from the looks on their faces while spinning?
There appeared to be two reasons why they loved the experience.
One was its intensity. They found it motivational. They thought the screaming pushed them to try harder.
Their second positive vibe drew from a sense of accomplishment. They had conquered the spin class challenge.
When I said I thought it felt more like road rage they gave me that look guys get when we don’t have a clue. My thoughts about the screaming instructor was as socially insensitive as dishing on their Facebook friends. “Typical man,” was written on their faces.
Spin cycling works if…
Spin cycling is a fast growing exercise. There are over 500 independent “cycling studios” in the U.S. Most are in California and New York. (This compares to the over 7,000 independent yoga studios.)
I surveyed the web and social media to figure out why spin cycling is growing. The summarized comments were:
- Spinning is intense exercise. It burns a lot of calories.
- You get tighter abs from pumping your legs on a bike.
- Successfully surviving a spin class generates a feeling of accomplishment.
Most of the negative posts about spin classes were about the non-exercise part of the experience:
- Your instructor is a big determinate on whether you like a spin class
- Pain is a reason to quit spinning
- The music is too loud.
Should you spin?
It was unanimous. All the women I surveyed at my spin class planned to take another class.
Would I? Should you?
Spinning is great exercise.
Here’s what my research has found about exercise and sustained weight loss. Few among us sustain exercise. What we sustain is play.
Play is fun and because it is fun we sustain it. Playing together is even better. The research is growing that social engagement and positive reinforcement enables sustained weight loss.
Spin class can be play. There was a camaraderie among some of the participants. They were spin friends.
So if your experience with spinning is like playing with friends then I recommend it.
What about me and spinning?
San Diego is back to sunny, perfect weather. I am about to go for a 10 mile bike ride along the coast.
But if I didn’t live in San Diego?
I would do spin classes as long as I could keep my bike along the back wall and three down from the exit.
We men are so sensitive about what girls think!
About the author
Bill Roth is a clean tech pioneer who led the team that launched the first hydrogen fueled Prius. He is a featured contributor on Triple Pundit and Latin Business Today. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, has been used by thousands of business people to implement proven green best practices that make money and a difference. Bill’s latest book, The Boomer Generation Diet, is his personal story on how to achieve sustained weight loss while still having fun and living more. The book’s ten customizable best practices are the sustainable solutions to our national weight crisis that threatens our health and medical cost bankruptcy.