There comes a time when the routine needs to change.
First, for the record, let me say how much I love my bike. I adore my bike. My Specialized road bike and I have been through a lot together. It’s one of only two possessions I own which no one, without express written consent, is allowed to touch. (The other being my laptop.) And while the groove of getting on my bike while perched on my trainer has been effective during off-season cycling training, it can get stale.
Also, when you rent and share the basement with another tenant along with maintenance by the landlord and his family, riding the trainer can cause some awkward moments, particularly if you’re singing along to your iPod and clad in your spandex bike shorts, sports bra and heart rate monitor.
So yesterday when my workout for the day called for an hour endurance ride, spin class was calling.
It had been ages since I’d been to a spin class, so I joined up with the Buffalo Triathlon Club’s indoor brick sessions at the University at Buffalo. In the spinning room I went for at least an hour (well, a little more coach) of cycling training with friends, music and plenty of distractions.
Hard-core road cyclists and some triathletes often discount general spin classes because many are aimed at the general fitness population who wants to get in a good workout and not necessarily work on their cycling skills or build bike-specific strength. (For a good take on how to get the most out of your spin class, check out Chris Carmichael’s article in Bicycling Magazine.)
But for all the talk about things like specificity and progression, there is something much more important about spin class — the setting.
My basement gets boring. Doesn’t matter what DVD I put on or what tunes or podcast blares from my earbuds. The basement is convenient and gives me quality time with my bike, but getting out of the every day setting is not only refreshing, it’s necessary for training survival.
Granted, the group at spin class yesterday was filled with mostly people I already knew from the tri club, which made it that much more enjoyable. We got a chance to razz Kate, who kept missing the instructions to turn down the resistance, hence “showing us all up” by suffering longer than we did.
Those who have been to a spin class are familiar with the standard positions: seated (1), standing (2) and climbing (3). What you might not realize is that there is a fourth position — the laughing so hard I need to fold over my handlebars position. This occurs when I take the spin bike next to Nick, who comes out with the best one-liners and indulged my need to dance to the techno-music from time to time. Suffice it to say the next time I get to this spin workout, my arrival will be early to make sure I get the same location. (Hey, if there’s “laughing yoga” why not “laughing spin”?)
And this is the point — the joy of the experience.
What I take from a workout on my trainer in my basement versus spin class with friends are very different. Both are valuable. Which is why it’s important for me to remember in 2010 to embrace the group whenever I can. It’s far too easy for me to be a loner and get stuck in my head. Those who know me understand that my head can be an overly complicated place — one that’s nice to visit but not one that’s great to live in continuously.
And the easiest, most effective way for me to get out of my head and back into my heart and body is training with a group. And laughing. A lot.