Updated: Oct 11, 2021
Here I am, a 52 year old woman who has been thrown into early menopause via a radical hysterectomy. Considering that life has slowed down considerably during this pandemic, while adding to the fact that I am the quintessential foodie, it's been growing increasingly difficult for me to keep my weight from creeping up. With the weather turning colder outside, I've decided to recommit to in- home exercising during the winter months. I have slowly come to the conclusion that my Total Gym (a very handy piece of workout equipment) simply doesn't fit in my new home. I downsized 3 years ago and have been trying to navigate opening it, doing my thing, and then closing and storing it in my office, post workout. It has too much of a footprint (8 feet when open) to let it remain open. There is no space to dedicate, as there was in my previous home. Yeah, I know, it is very possible, for some, to have a gym like this. And it is indeed a great workout. But in my experience for the last 3 years, it ain't happening! It is growing dust, sitting patiently in my office, waiting for some action that obviously isn't coming. So I finally, and reluctantly surrendered to the notion that it was time to sell my beloved Total Gym and find a smaller piece of fitness equipment. It was snatched up almost immediately after I posted it to one of the Facebook sale pages. So now...what to replace it with?
One of my favorite things to do in the fair- weather months has always been to ride my bicycle. There is just a particular magic about being out in the fresh air, cruising on a nice, wide trail, moving forward by my own propulsion. I love that I am almost soundless as I pedal past wildlife. I'm sure they appreciate it too. It's always a good day when I throw Jeff, my bright teal 21 speed Trek mountain bike (Yes, my bikes have names. Don't yours?) into the back of my truck (named Mike) and zoom off to a trailhead. I come back home tired, relaxed, and happy.
Ok, so What if I bought a spin bike for the office? Could I find one that was compact enough to be awarded a dedicated corner of my coveted office space? I scrambled in excitedly, to measure the area in question. I had just about 5 feet of useable space. With a little research, it was apparent that a spin bike would fit perfectly. After looking at several different models, I finally settled on a pretty gray spin bike with a bright red wheel called the "Sunny" (It really was all in the name). And, by mere happenstance, there was a used one up for sale on the very marketplace where I had sold my Total Gym. Serendipity! I quickly set up the sale and, within a few days, I was on my way home with my shiny, new to me, Sunny spin bike. Since it was used, I didn't have to do any assembling. I pulled it down out of my truck bed and rolled it through the house into it's new space. I played with the toe cages (they hold your feet on the pedals). I twisted the tension knob (makes the pedaling harder or easier). I pushed the brake. I angled the saddle. I got acquainted with my new toy. Then I was off to change into workout gear, preparing for my first "spin" on "Sunny".
Donning my sports bra, tank top, and leggings, I cued up a 30 minute spin class with fitness instructor Kaleigh Cohen. I laced up my workout shoes, grabbed a towel and my water bottle and mounted my stationary steed. Within only a few minutes I was totally out of breath, drenched in sweat and having so much fun! I think I started pooping out about 13 minutes into the 30 minute spin class. I decided to remain in my saddle, just pedaling for the remainder of the class, while Kaleigh moved into the "Standing positions". I would have to slowly work up to those. The saddle felt a little loose, but all in all, not bad for my maiden spin on "Sunny."
Later that night I was reading a book titled Finding Ultra, by Rich Roll, one of the world's fittest men, and a big inspiration to me. In his book he had quoted, "When you think you're done, you're only at 40% of your total potential." Really? 40%? Right at that moment I made a decision. No matter how ugly it got, next time I was going to complete the entire 30 minute spin class. After giving my tender sit bones a 24 hour break, I bounced into the office at 6:30 am with the solid intention to "Shred til I'm dead"!
I climbed onto the saddle and pushed my feet into the toe cages, ready to spin with Kaleigh. Even the warm up is a butt kicker! A couple of 30 second, light tension sprints to start with, spinning as fast as we can. No problem! Next we go into the seated climbs. We crank up the tension on the pedals, and the burn begins, as we simulate climbing up a hill. 30 seconds of climbing and then we loosen the tension and, again, go screaming as fast as we can down the next imaginary hill. It's so freaking fun when you can keep the image in your head. And now comes the "Second" or "Jog" position. Here, you are standing straight up on the pedals, with your hands only using the grips for balance- by far the hardest position for me. 8 seconds jogging and then 8 seconds in the saddle, over and over until my quads are on fire! But I'm not quitting now! We move to third position, into the "Standing Climbs." This means leaning a little more forward, moving your hands to the furthest grips. Ok, this one seems easier than the last position, but I'm definitely not saying easy! Time for, I think they're called, "pyramids"- the last and hardest set of the class. This is where we increase the tension to 8- 9- 10! And then decrease to 10- 9- 8. Get it? Pyramids. Eek! But I got this! I'm standing and pedaling, increasing the tension, and continuing to pedal as hard as I can. Bye Bye 40%! I made it through 8 and 9. Now I'm at 10, and I only have seconds before I can finally turn that darn knob to the left, easing the tension, and start my imaginary descent.
Just...keep...going! FINALLY! A left turn of the tension knob to 9. And then to 8. Kaleigh then says the magic words. "Back in the saddle." I did it! I'm a little choked up and very proud of my personal accomplishment. My tired bottom finds that saddle with a Thump! And before I realize what is happening, I am hanging on to the hand grips for dear life. My left foot has flown out of it's toe cage, and the saddle has tipped completely backward. I have nowhere to set my butt! I almost flew off of the back of the bike! My right foot is still caged in, so I pull myself up with my arms, to land solidly on the floor with my free left foot. Unfortunately, the crank arm of the rogue left pedal is making it's way back around to CRACK into the front of my shin! I do my best to soften the blow, but I clearly do not have a free hand to push the brake. OUCH! (that's gonna leave a mark!) With all of the rolling hill imagery I had just used in my spin class, I could not have imagined a crazier conclusion to my workout! I wasn't too happy at the time, but it's pretty hilarious to tell my story now. And can you imagine the spectacular crash that would've been, had I been outside riding Jeff? I shudder to think!
Despite my feelings of spin bike betrayal , and my painful lower left leg contusion, I am growing to love Sunny, and I look forward to our time together with a mix of excitement, and being totally honest, a little dread. I am definitely improving incrementally with every class. And rest assured, that darn saddle has been tightened sooo tight, but I doubt that I will ever fully trust it again.