1) Don’t Wear Mascara.
The first time I went to a “real” spin studio, I was in the South. From what I’d seen and read (perhaps from Steel Magnolias?) I thought that Southern ladies pretty much slept in their make-up. Therefore I didn’t want to show up to the 6:15 a.m. class looking like…well, looking like my natural self. I put on a little concealer and my normal Dior Show mascara and headed out the door. About one hour later I was literally soaked with sweat but super proud I had done the class while not looking like too much of an idiot. (Wait for it.) I then walked the 1.5 miles back to my hotel. Only when I got into the bathroom did I realize I had two huge raccoon eyes; that damn drag queen mascara was all over my face. I basically looked like I had just walked out of the Kentucky coal mines after a long days’ work. (And I should know; I’ve watched Coal Miner’s Daughter at least twenty times.
2) The Instructors Look Like Athleta Models.
This, of course, makes me instantly resent them. Many of them have ultra hip names like “West” or “Tedrick” or “Dannan”, a long blonde ponytail, abs of steel, and a sizeable thigh gap even my skinniest self has never seen. They were all former cheerleaders and/or dance squad captains at some big college, and I am constantly left to wonder how the hell they got their bodies. I’m sure it’s not all from spinning, despite what Kelly Ripa may tell you.
3) But I Still Love the Instructors.
Even though I resent their perfect bodies and perky demeanors, I still can’t hate them. The fact is, they’re good and inspiring and so darn nice. One instructor in particular, who reminded me of that perfect blonde Athleta model from every catalog (you know the one I’m talking about, ladies) does a fantastic job of making sure we leave all of our stress, insecurities, pain, etc. at the door and just focus on being good to ourselves. “Nobody is ever as perfect as they seem,” she (ironically?) said to the class. “Everyone has their thing, everyone has their own issues even if they don’t show it.” I couldn’t imagine what perfect blonde Athleta model’s struggles were, but I decided there must be something and just went with it.
4) You Rarely Sit Down.
I don’t know why this was a surprise to me; the instructors sure as hell didn’t get those bodies by taking leisurely rides like they were in a Schwinn banana seat. Once you get on the bike, your keester is up and out of the “saddle” most of the time. Sometimes when they dim the lights really dark I sit down and pretend that nobody can see me, but I know better. Plus I’m too competitive and self-conscious to be sitting too long, so I savor those 5 seconds of rest and then go back for more before the instructor sees me. Yes, it’s painful, but after awhile you get used to it.
5) There’s a Weights Section.
I’m usually jumping for joy and relief when the weights part of the workout rolls around. (Well, okay maybe not jumping…since my thighs are burning so much I pretty much have spaghetti legs by then, if you can imagine spaghetti legs with a little more than the desired amount of thigh meat.) I enjoy the weights because I can rock them out better than a lot of people in class, and for a few minutes I feel better about myself.
6) The Music Keeps Me Coming Back.
Bruno Mars vs. Michael Jackson theme nights? Old School Hip Hop? Yes, please! The music is always fantastically motivating and super loud, and sometimes it makes me forget I’m suffering (and paid an enormous amount of money for a 45-minute class.)
(That reminds me: Must suggest New Edition/Bobby Brown/ BBD theme night, based on recent success and hype of The New Edition Story miniseries. Spin instructors reading this, feel free to use my awesome idea. You’re welcome.)