Thursday, June 28, 2012

my love affair with spinning

In 2008, I was living in the DC area, struggling to stay motivated to work out on my own.  I didn't belong to a gym, and between injuries and the weather, running wasn't working for me.  So, when a Fitness First opened within walking distance of my house, I signed up.  I spent the first month or so experimenting - going in the morning vs. evening, taking all sorts of group fitness classes, and taking advantage of the chance to have a free session with a personal training.  It was at that gym that I first tried spinning, and it did not take long for me to become totally hooked!

Over the next year, I went to spinning about twice a week - sometimes three, four, or even five times!  I was totally addicted.  I found all of my favorite teachers at that gym.  There was one who was really into speed work and taught me how to sprint like a champion.  Another loved to make us turn the resistance up until we could barely move, and then force us to conquer or monstrous hills.  I was sweating more than I had ever sweat before, and I was in heaven!

For those of you who have never been to a spin class, I totally recommend trying it.  It is intense (and some people tell me they are afraid of going for that reason), but if you enjoy a good cardio workout, you will probably like it.  (Although your butt will be sore after your first class - no worries - your body adjusts and that will go away once you are going more consistently!)  Most spin classes are either 45 or 60 minutes, and you can burn anywhere from 400 to 1000 calories per class (supposedly - on average I think I burn between 400 and 600; there are a lot of different factors to consider).  A good instructor will have a mix of different types of workouts sprinkled throughout the session... hill climbs (turning up the resistance on your fly wheel so it feels like you are climbing a hill, either seated or standing), sprints, tempo rides (holding a steady pace that is right outside your comfort zone), and jumps (where you move smoothly from in the saddle to a standing position and back).  I think one of the reasons I like spin is because you do so many different things, you never get bored!  If you are hating the hill you are on, don't worry - it probably will only last through one or two songs, and then you can get on a flat road and pedal fast!  Another great thing about spinning is that no one knows how high you have your resistance, so you are free to take it easy or push yourself extra hard depending on your mood!  You are in charge of your speed and resistance level, which means you can get as much (or as little) out of it as you want.  I definitely have days where sprinting is "kind of speeding up maybe", and other days where I'm craving a super heavy hill and crank up my resistance higher than I probably "need" to!

When you apply for PhD programs and go on interviews, normal people ask questions like "do you like living in this city/town?" or "what is it like working in this lab?"  I asked lots of those types of questions, but at every single school, I also asked about access to the university gym and whether or not they had spin classes.  I had a lot of graduate students look at me like I had three heads, but it was important to me!  Luckily, I ended up at a school where my funding package includes free access to the university gym, which offers spin classes.

During my first semester of graduate school, I was fairly consistent in going to spin class.  I found a friend or two who also enjoyed spinning and we figured out which instructors had the best music and were most motivating, and made spin class a weekly date!  Somewhere between my second semester and second year, my schedule got too crazy and spinning stopped being a priority.  Part of this was being busy, and part of it was that I was running regularly in the mornings, so spinning didn't fit in as easily.

I find a lot of cardio machines boring, and I'm terrible at swimming, so the logical choice was to go back to spin class!  In the fall, my friends and I found a new instructor that we absolutely loved.  She has awesome play lists and her classes are really challenging.  Ever since my first class with her in the fall, I've basically been structuring my workout schedule around her teaching schedule!  (Yep, she's that good.)  I also have several friends that come to the class now, so it's always fun to see them each week!

It's crazy to think that I've now been spinning (somewhat off-and-on) for four years!  I often wonder what it would be like to get certified to be a spin instructor.  I thinking making playlists and workouts could be really fun - but it could also be time consuming and hard to make good classes!  I'm not sure I have time to be an instructor during graduate school, but it would be a great way to make sure I never skipped my weekly class.  It looks like the most common way to do it is through, but it looks like other websites/organizations offer certifications... is anyone out there certified / currently teaching spinning classes? How did you get certified, and do you like teaching?  Is being a spin instructor exactly what Max Greenfield makes it look like in this hilarious video?



recent workouts:
Thurs. 6/21: played two kickball games + core work
Fri. 6/22: rest day
Sat. 6/23: 2 mile run + arms/legs
Sun. 6/24: core work
Mon. 6/25: 2 mile run IN NEW SHOES + arms/legs
Tues. 6/26: spinning (whoops, didn't do core work)
Wed. 6/27: speed work + arms (my legs were sore enough from the speedwork!)

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