Like a lot of people’s sisters, my sister (Ryan) is an avid fan of SoulCycle. She also likes hot yoga, which is totally different from SoulCycle, but seems to attract similarly upwardly mobile, athletically spiritual people on their way to/from brunch. After months of Ryan telling me that I need to give SoulCycle a shot, I finally surrendered and went with her and our friend Becky to a class in Santa Monica. After 5 minutes of spinning, I quickly learned that…
IT IS FUCKING BONKERS.
It really is. The lights are off. Candles are lit. Techno music blasts. The instructors are like evangelical pastors that have converted to the religion of quads. It’s great exercise. Don’t do it hungover.
My only problem with SoulCycle is that it’s so darn expensive. It’s $30 a class, which I guess is fine if you’re only going to do it 1-3 times a week. But I subscribe to a philosophy that was taught to me by my friend Mikey Strauss: Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. If I’m going to commit to cycling, I’m going to cycle 7-days-a-fucking-week. So, I bid adieu to SoulCycle, and went back to jogging each morning on the dirty (but free!) sidewalks of Los Angeles.
That was until a few weeks ago, when I learned that LA Fitness—the gym to which I belong—offers free spin classes every single day. So, starting on January 2nd, I’ve gone to an LA Fitness spin class 21 days in a row, and here is the advice that I can give you…
They really don’t like it. I learned this on day one. Everyone gets super offended, like—you just tried to order General Tso’s Chicken in a Japanese restaurant—offended. I don’t understand why they get so upset by it, you are riding stationary bicycles after all, but they do. Don’t do it.
Even after reading this article, you’re going to underestimate how much you will sweat. I don’t tend to drink a lot of water while I exercise, because in the words of Coach Boone from Remember the Titans, “Water is for cowards. Water makes you weak. Water is for washing blood off that uniform and you don’t get no blood on my uniform, boy you must be outside your mind!” But you will want to drink a ton of water before, during, and after every spinning class. Otherwise, you might die. And we don’t want that, now do we?
There’s a surprising amount of variation that you do in these spinning classes. You sprint. You climb uphill. You… Well, you basically either sprint or climb uphill. But, both of these can get very difficult, especially towards the end of the class. So, I like to imagine that I’m in the movie Tron or Total Recall or Jumper in order to distract myself from feeling like I’m going to vomit all over the tiger moms that are riding next to me. It really fits the lights off techno vibe of the class.
I mean, technically he’s not innocent, and technically this has nothing to do with spin classes. But come on! We’ve hated on Lance for far too long. Sure, the guy cheated. I cheat all the time when I play Monopoly. The dude raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research, survived cancer himself, and won 7 straight Tour De Frances while competing against a bunch of other guys who were ALSO doping. Sure, he broke my future wife Sheryl Crow’s heart. But, if he hadn’t done that, she would have never written “Strong Enough,” even though that song pre-dated their having dated. So, in a way, thank you for cheating on Sheryl Crow, Lance.
This is the most important thing I’ve learned. Instructors range from army drill sergeant types, who will actually call you a pussy for not keeping up, to Ned Flanders types, who will actually tell you all about their aspirations to move to wine country while you calmly push the pedals. Some play dubstep. Some play Lionel Richie. Some will ride while they teach, others will stand around and drink a Diet Coke as they shuffle through their iPod.
My gym’s free cycling classes are certainly not as intense as SoulCycle’s $30 ones. You will most likely be surrounded by stay-at-home moms and older retirees looking for a chance to flirt with stay-at-home moms. But I urge you to give them a shot if you haven’t already. Worst case scenario: you forget to bring a water bottle, puke in a dark-lit room, and die while an instructor with a Philly accent yells at you to get up.