I came to the world of exercise later in life. And by “later in life,” I mean that I had to start exercising after two kids, two C-Sections, and turning thirty because it turns out that when these things happen, your thighs look remarkably different from when you were in your teens and twenties. Around the time I turned thirty, I realized that if I had any hope of not wearing a circus tent to preschool drop off, I needed to do something to keep my post-baby body under control.
Basically, I had to put down the ice cream, get off the couch, and start moving. And I did; I took up running, and though my first run wasn’t pretty, I haven’t looked back. Six marathons, fourteen half-marathons, and six triathlons later, I feel fairly confident that I could kick someone’s ass if pushed. At the very least, I know that if a clown was chasing me with a knife, I’d totally outrun him.
While I love to run, I’m not so crazy about bike riding. A lack of safe roads to ride in my area, a number of wickedly horrible falls off my bike, and several near-misses by speeding cars has made the sport less than desirable. That, and I swear to God, clipless shoes were made by the devil himself. Just ask my friend about the time my feet were stuck in the pedals, my bike chain came loose, and I was pedaling furiously in the middle of an intersection screaming my head off. Lance Armstrong, I am not.
Which brings me to spin classes.
Spin class is this mystical place where people climb up on stationary bikes and ride paths to absolutely nowhere for 45 minutes to an hour. The participants rock out to loud, pulsating music and race each other up and down imaginary hills as an instructor screams “Hill climb!” or “Attack!” or “Get out of the saddle!” You sweat, you swear, and you go nowhere. But you keep coming back.
I love spin class mostly because it’s physically impossible for me to fall off the bike. I also feel like a reckless badass because I don’t have to wear a helmet. And, over the years, I’ve become aware that there are very specific personalities who attend spin classes. Mitch Albom gave you the Five People You Meet In Heaven, but I give you The Seven People You Meet In Spin Class:
1. The Newbie
This biker isn’t hard to spot. She’s usually the one who has no idea how to adjust her bike, where to sit, or what the terms mean. She can be found looking around the room, bewildered, and hoping someone will tell her how the heck to get her bike seat to move. The Newbie is adorable for about three classes, and then all bets are off. The Instructor Wannabe loves to get her hands on fresh Newbie meat.
2. The Instructor Wannabe
This gal means business and spin class is no joke to her. She knows every single spin routine better than the instructor. She remembers the music that was used three months ago and she is an expert at setting up bikes. She’s happy to spout off her extensive spin class knowledge and will gladly tell you everything you are doing wrong as you sit on your bike. She knows all the words to the hot spin class songs and she’s always giving suggestions to the instructor for next week’s class. She and The Lifer are often best friends.
3. The Lifer
In every spin class, there’s a biker who marks her territory. The Lifer owns Bike 17 and anyone who gets in the way has hell to pay. The Lifer walks into class and the other participants part ways, much like Moses parting the seas so that The Lifer may make her way to the area she’s deemed hers. She knows every nuance of Bike 17, every flaw, every part of the digital read out, and she’s not interested in doing time on any other bike. The Lifer will die on Bike 17 and she never needs to reserve her bike — ever. The Newbie cowers when The Lifer walks into class.
4. The Class Clowns
These bikers just cannot take the class seriously. They are often found in the back of the room, snickering, and basically disrupting the pack. They make fun of each other, crack jokes, and discuss what they are making for dinner that night. They are casual about spin class and everyone knows it. If you ask The Lance Armstrong or The Instructor Wannabe, the Class Clowns aren’t working hard enough if they can make all that noise laughing. But, they have a good time and everyone in the class secretly wishes they could be in on the joke. Because spin class is hard.
5. The New Year’s Resolutionist
She’s seen in January — for two classes.
6. The Lance Armstrong Wannabe
This biker is serious about spin class — serious as a heart attack. He has the expensive clipless shoes, he’s sporting a Tour de France wicking biking shirt, and his bike shorts are high and tight, yo. He has seen road combat worthy of Lance Armstrong’s support team and he wants you to know it. He’s raced every bike race in the area. Twice. And just try to keep up with him during warm ups — his warm up RPM is your hard setting. Don’t bother asking him what kind of road bike he has. He owns five of them and you’ll be there all day listening to him describe how well he rides them. His nemesis: The Octogenarian.
7. The Octogenarian
She’s 80 if she’s a day. Her flat road setting is 22 and her RPMs are 120 at all times. She may look frail and have blue hair, but this sweet little Grandma will kick your ass into next Tuesday. And twice on Sundays.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m the Class Clown in any spin class I attend, because frankly when I’m on a bike to nowhere chasing The Lance Armstrong Wannabe in front of me, what else is there to do but laugh?