How to Be…Spun

by Lindsay Timmington

soul cycle 2

I didn’t want to go.  Spinning isn’t really my thing, because much in the same way that I don’t run on treadmills I want to GO somewhere when I’m moving. Plus, this place my friend went to, this SOULCYCLE, has a cult-like celebrity/ridiculously-rich people following and UGH, no.

So I fought for months before my sweet friend wore me down. She kept telling me how great it was, how inspirational the instructor was, what a great workout it was, etc. etc.  And I kept saying no.

But last week I begrudgingly went to my first spin class. It’s not that I have anything against cycling,or exercise studios or the Upper East Side. I mean, I binge-watched Gossip Girl like an insane teenager for months. But these classes? They’re $35 a pop. $35 dollars to sit on a bike and go nowhere.

No.Unless you guarantee me a six-pack and a post-class rub down from David Wright, I ain’t buying what you’re selling.  But then my sweet, sweet friend wrangled me in.  Lured me with the temptation of a free class.  So I went.

I decked myself out in Lulu gear, figuring I’d at least blend in, if not fit in, and trudged over to the Upper East Side. I arrived before my sweet friend and therefore stood awkwardly in the lobby of this brightly lit beacon of health, wellness and wealth. I hovered near the front desk until the SoulCycle lady took pity on my less than bedazzled self and asked if I needed help.soul_cycle_lobby_640x480

And how, lady.  And how.

I explained I was new to SoulCylce and she smiled knowingly, instructed me to initial next to one of the pre-paid for bikes listed by my sweet friend’s name on the class roster and “step off to the side” to wait.

“I, uh-I don’t have shoes.” I whisper-yelled sheepishly from the corner I’d been sent to.

“What’s your size?” She asked hurriedly as she was busy dealing with an “elite” client.

“And they’re, are they true to athletic shoe size?” I asked hesitantly.  Dumb, Lindsay.  How could you be so dumb and ignorant of cycling protocol?

“Yes.” Sigh. Hair-toss.

“Okay, 9.5” I replied and quickly grabbed the shiny silver and black cycling shoes she passed across the counter.  “Thank you.”

“Mmmm,” she replied, having already moved on to the gorgeous specimen standing next to me, whose  jeweled hands hovering over the sign-in sheet, 5 carat rock glimmering in the artificial light.  She was clearly SUPER perplexed by the fact that she was #5 on the wait-list.

Oh, I didn’t clarify that?

There’s a WAIT LIST. For an exercise class. A WAIT LIST. According to my sweet friend, this particular “Stacey Class” on Thursday @ 1pm goes on sale MONDAY AT 12:00pm. At 12:05pm it’s SOLD OUT.

What the sweet f-ity, F? SOLD OUT? To exercise?  Yes. People who aren’t quick enough and don’t snag one of the precious 75 bikes for this class will have to wait to be told four minutes prior to class if they have the distinct privilege of snapping their little footsies into a pedal and then CYCLING TO NOWHERE in the name of exercise.

Honestly.

I sighed heavily and trudged down the stairs to the locker room to wait for my sweet friend. I sat on the bench by the lockers after realizing that I had no idea how they worked.  Ladies kept pressing numbers and letters in the keypad and the keypad “bleeped and bloopped” back at them in ecstatic response but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what they were doing to make those dang contraptions work so I just sat with my shiny cycling shoes and backpack and Nalgene bottle of Queens tap water in my lap and hoped to God that sweet friend would show up so I could borrow some socks from her (yeah, I was winning that day) and have a guardian on my way to this esteemed cycling class.

My friend came trouncing down the stairs, threw some socks at me, (I love her) and then practically held my hand and we ascended the stairs to the studio where we’d be spending the next hour.  She attempted to flag a cycle-boy over to help adjust my bike and when that didn’t work, took matters in her own hands.  “Just press the ball of your foot into the clip and press down.  No, BALL of your foot.  Yeah, like that! No! Toe-heel your foot in until you hear it snap, yes that’s right! No, BALL of your foot! Press DOWN!” Both my foot and my instinct screamed, “NO!” and we fought back.  I kept thinking, “How in sweet heaven can I have a master’s degree and not be able to get my foot into a bike pedal?”

Finally she grabbed one unwieldy foot, and my bedazzled but oh-so-kind cycling-lady neighbor grabbed the other and they and jammed my stupid feet into the pedals.  I grabbed the handle bars, readjusted the towel that had been draped over my bike, next to my stinky towel from home and looked longingly at my Nalgene bottle on the floor.  Sweet friend handed me a bottle of “Smart Water” purchased from the SoulCycle front desk as that’s the only bottle that fit into the bike’s water-holder mathing.  Naturally.

“You want ear-plugs?” She asked.

I looked at her.  “For what?”

“For class.”

“Do I want ear-plugs for an exercise class?” I laughed. “I think I’ll be okay.”

She looked at me and grinned. “Okay then. But it gets loud!”

“It’s a spin class,” I said.  “How loud can it be?”

The cycle-Gods clearly heard me because in an oh-so-theatrical manner the lights went down. The music came up.  A spotlight beamed down on the “stage” in the front of the class where a fancy laptop was set up DJ style and one lone bike stood on the platform. A beautiful model who looked as though she just left a photo shoot at FITNESS magazine sat on the bike and I figured this was Stacey, the instructor.

The music rose to eardrum-shattering levels. The bass throbbed, and the people around me started bouncing in like they were at a Kanye concert. I had no idea what the FUCK was going on. The FITNESS model was spinning but not teaching.  Maybe this was a silent class and I just had to watch her?

Then a tiny elfin creature sauntered into the room. With her hat low I couldn’t really see her face and I wondered how she was gonna bike in her parachute style capri pants and baggy but trendy SoulCycle sweat-shirt. She adjusted her Madonna-in-concert mic, pressed some buttons and told us to get off our butts.

Ohhhh.  She’s the teacher. And the model on the bike is A MODEL ON A BIKE. I was supposed to follow the FITNESS model’s moves and listen to the instructor. The instructor who was just DJ-ing, cuing moves and dancer-cizing. I was fascinated by this creature who exuded confidence, sex, fitness and bad-assery.

SoulCycle's

“GET UP and MOVE!” she yell-cued. I got up and moved. Kind of. To the best of my cycle-virgin abilities.  As I stood up I realized that I was in direct line of view to the instructor and also had a great view of myself in the mirror.  Excellent. Stacey started bopping side to side and indicated we do the same.  I was lost.  I was supposed to move side to side on the bike? Isn’t that how you fall off?  I prayed to God I was strapped in correctly and did my best to bop back and forth on the bike and not look at myself in the mirror.

Stacey began spouting some inspirational nonsense yanked form a Pinterest board and continuing to tell us to do impossible things on our bike.  “Push-ups on the handle bars!” “Oblique crunches!” “DANCE!” I giggled at the ridiculousness.  These people were class A suckers! Then she flipped a switch and a glitter disco ball began spinning around.  I laughed out loud and accidentally dropped my towel.  God damn it, in order to get it back I’d have to unclip and THAT wasn’t going to be happening. Sweat dripped down my face and I appeared to be the only person in the room who wasn’t doing anything more than lightly schvitzing.  Stacey flipped another light switch. Suddenly anyone wearing white glowed.  A freaking black light. I wasn’t wearing white, but it became very clear that my Lulu top was VERY, VERY STAINED.  I glowed for all the wrong reasons.

I was composing this very blog in my head (while simultaneously getting a decent workout, I’ll admit) and laughing at this ridiculous gimmicky exercise and money extortion club when the music changed and a heavily remixed version of the  80’s classic, “Africa” by Toto came on.

WHOA. Game changer, guys.  I don’t know if it was the 80’s music or the fact that I suddenly learned the difference between my left and right and figured out what the hell she meant when she cried “Tap Back!”, but suddenly I was fighting back a non-sarcastic smile. Was it possible? Was I LIKING this nonsense?

I had to admit, I was feeling it in my legs and my arms were a little bit burn-y and I’m pretty sure I was beginning to unearth some abdominals.  Yeah, alright-a decent workout. But then, mid-Toto, Stacey battle-cried at us, “Your heart should be pounding. Put your hand on your chest. Feel that? That’s opportunity knocking. If you can do this, you can do anything.”  I squeezed back some f-ing tears that had NO business being there and wondered if I could be PMS-ing.  That was the only excuse for this crap. I couldn’t actually be moved by a spin class, right?

“Gonna take some time to do the things we never had.”

I sniffled. Turns out I was. I cranked the resistance hard to the right and began pedaling furiously. I dropped my second towel and didn’t even fucking care. This was amazing.  I was amazing.  I was going to have a six-pack and I was going to direct on Broadway and nail every audition and the Twins were gonna win the World Series and I planned to  skip down 83rd avenue back to the subway because life was so damn beautiful I couldn’t stand it.

But then the lights came up. Class was over. No. This couldn’t be.  I wanted more. I wasn’t ready for it to be over, I’d just begun.

And this, THIS is how SoulCycle sucks you in.  As we left class I shouted at my friend, “That was great! I mean, I can’t afford to go every week but I can find $35 to come once a month.  I can do that! That’s like four Scotch and waters! I can give up for Scotch and waters a month for this class.”

“Why are you yelling?” she asked.

“I’m not yelling!” I howled.

“Yup, you are.” She said. “That’s why I wear earplugs.”

“Next time.” I said.  “Next time I’ll totally wear earplugs.”

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