Monday, September 12, 2011

Music Mondays and What My Spinning Teacher Made Me Do

Before I was into running, I used to wake up at eight in the morning on a Saturday, walk to Union Square for not one, but two, spinning classes in a row.

Why in the world would I do that?

Because I was bored and had nothing else to do?

Because I was trying to understand why hamsters run on those wheels for hours and hours?

Because I was preparing for the Tour de France?

Perhaps because I liked pain and sweating?

Because there was a really hot guy I was trying to impress in the class?

Because it made me feel better about the cheeseburger and beers I would have while watching Michigan kick Notre Dame's butt

Nope, nope, and nope.  None of those.  I went because I liked it.

Sitting on a bike, or anything really, for an hour and a half and not going anywhere despite a bucket of sweat and maybe a few tears, is maddening stuff - except when you've got the right music and words. 

And Saturday mornings at the NYSC in Union Square one of the best spinning teachers ever taught two classes in a row - and I sure as hell wasn't going to miss out on even one minute of it.  And, if you think I'm the only nutball to do this, let me correct you:  Not only did about half of the class stay for both sessions, but people would line up at the door for the class.  I'd even witnessed a fight or two for the last remaining bike. 

No, we're not all going insane here.  Instead, were here for the magic.

Week after week, I've shared the music that moves me.  But that's only the half of the story.  A good song does not make a spinning class.  The spinning teacher does. 

Some like to motivate by offering words of inspiration and encouragement.  "You came here for a reason.  This set is it," says one teacher.  "This is your hardest piece of work today," says another, likening a workout to a physical thing that we give to ourselves.

Others create fictional scenarios, in which we must call upon our imaginations and glycogen stores in equal measure.  "Imagine your ex is chasing you up this hill," says one shrill voiced instructor.  "Think of someone in your life who needs you in some way; they are standing at the finish line waiting for you," says another. 

Some don't even need to use words. They just climb up on the bike in front and sweat it out with us.  Their breathy voices, shouting out commands.  One teacher, who had the most estatic following I've ever seen, wouldn't say little besides a short, "Yeah," and always rapping a ringed finger on his bike - perhaps in encouragement or lost in his own cycling high.  Another never stepped on a bike, but would lift his hands and face to the sky, almost as if praising the spinning gods - or maybe to get a breath of fresh air from all the stinky spinners. 

But lately, I've become enamored with a teacher who likes to take a interactive approach to class.  He repeatedly asks us for a "Hell yeah!" in class.  I'm generally not one to hollar out during class, but his infectious requests get to me.  Even though, I'm not the loudest or most enthusiastic, I love to hear him ask the class.

And then, last week he asked us to sing.  Excuse me?  I can barely breathe, let alone sing.  But that's what he wanted us to do.  And then he climbed off his bike, onto one of the empty bikes in the room, jacked up the music and when it was time, he sang:

"I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier.
I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier..."

It was not what I expected, but it was awesome.  Thank you!

From my spinning class,

All these things that I've done by the Killers (The "I've got soul song)

Girls Like You by the Naked and Famous

Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw

You and I by Lady Gaga

But don't take my word for it.  Try it for yourself.



  1. Hi, I am also in NY, can you recommend some great places for spinning classes? Thanks!

  2. I have done a lot of spinning at Equinox and NYSC gyms. Both have a lot of classes and a ton of different teaching styles so you can find the type of class you love.

    I have been to the specialty spinning gyms - Soul Cycle and Flywheel - but some of my old favorite teachers teach there now (Try Kym and Daniel at Soul Cycle).

  3. I was researching Soul Cycle in Union SQ, I would love to give it a try, I am just wondering if it fits me as a beginner?!

  4. Ummmm we go to the same Friday spinning class! That's HILARIOUS. I am obsessed with that guy - if you're going this Friday, let me know!!