Archives for the month of: April, 2014

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

I’ve seen the spinners at the gym. They’re the ones lined up a half hour before class starts, clutching two water bottles and a towel. They stand there patiently, shifting their water bottles from hand to hand, making quiet conversation. When the instructor arrives, they file into the room and proceed to pedal furiously on stationery bikes for the next 45 minutes while a slim young lady yells at them. LIKE A BUNCH OF LUNATICS.

Seriously, who does that?

Apparently, I do.

I recently joined the bike club here. In an effort to not embarrass myself on the first ride, I decided to try some spinning classes. While it’s not the same as riding my bike, it would at least get my leg muscles ready and add some much-needed cardio to my workout regimen.

It began easily enough. I shoved my feet into the pedal cages and tried a tentative revolution. Obediently, the beast sprang to life, whizzing the one non-fixed wheel with a satisfying mechanical purr. A knob at the base of the handle bars set the degree of difficulty.

The instructor, a perky brunette, cued up her music and climbed on her bike. “Hey guys, are we READY?” she yelled as a Lady Gaga song came crashing through the speakers at maximum volume. My fellow spinners whooped enthusiastically. I smiled nervously, wondering what kind of exercise class encourages battle cries prior to commencing. The instructor yelled out unintelligibly over Gaga. I caught snippets of what sounded like instructions, possibly important ones: “…then you…three positions….water…use your CORE…and then…stand UP…okay?”

“Okay!” we yelled back. I realized then I had passed the Point of No Return. There was no way of getting out of the class now without faking some kind of illness or injury. I hunkered down and grabbed the handle bars. “LET’S GO!” the teacher yelled.

We began spinning furiously. The first couple of minutes weren’t too bad, honestly. I spun happily along for the rest of the Lady Gaga tune. “HA! Who brings two water bottles to THIS kind of class?” I thought with very premature cockiness.

“Alright gang,” the instructor called out, “turn that knob a quarter up!” A quarter turn? No problem! I obliged, noting the slight increase in resistance. “Oh no! We’re hitting some wind!” she hollered, “Half turn up!” Some wind, you say? I laugh at you, wind! I cranked it up by a half turn. “Keep going,” she encouraged, “until it feels like you’re biking through wet sand!” The wet sand part was when I felt the smile evaporate from my face. My heart started to pound loudly and beads of sweat were forming on my forehead. I glanced down at my watch: Ten minutes had passed. TEN MINUTES ONLY.

“Keep it up, guys!” yelled the teacher. “Quarter up!” Again I complied, my thighs burning in protest.

“QUARTER UP!” the teacher screeched. “QUARTER UPPPPPP!!”

For the next ten minutes, I heaved my way though varying degrees of difficulty. Sometimes we were standing and pedaling. Other times she had us sitting. There was also this sadistic hybrid called “hovering” – not quite sitting but still, always, pedaling.

About halfway though the class, it dawned on me that no one was monitoring our bikes. WE set the difficulty. The instructor could sit up there yelling instructions at us all day long, but she couldn’t see how hard (or easy!) our bikes were set. Panting, thighs burning, I employed a life-saving technique I’ll call “the Phantom Turn”. When she screamed for us to turn the setting another “quarter up!”, I moved my hand, not the knob. Yes, it’s true, I was only cheating myself but I was okay with this.

By the end of the class, I noticed with a sense of rugged accomplishment that a few drops of sweat had accumulated under my bike. Looking around the room, though, I saw that most people (including and especially the instructor) had veritable pools of sweat under their bikes. I slid off the bike for the cool-down feeling fully humbled – just because I’m a fitness instructor I am by no means Master of the Gym Universe. In fact, if that class taught me anything, it was just how badly I need an ass-kicking cardio workout in my life.

I survived the class. I even felt pretty good afterwards. I still prefer riding an actual bike, outdoors, with no one yelling at me. But I WILL be there tomorrow, two water bottles and a towel in tow, ready to spin.

Advertisements

I recently purchased a car. This was a huge deal for me, as I didn’t have any payments with my old car. It hurts my feelings to think about this chunk of money leaving my bank account every month, but it had to be done. My old car was one breakdown away from sending me to the poorhouse. So! I have enacted some austerity measures in hopes of maintaining the extremely posh lifestyle to which I am accustomed (hahaha! Only joking about that last part – my goal here is to NOT live paycheck-to-paycheck. That’s it.).

Yoga encourages such behavior! Look at the yama aparigraha , or non-attachment! Before I bought this car, I had been thinking about doing a yogic Spring Cleaning anyway. I was going to purge my closet of things I hadn’t worn this winter, and started a purge of my Facebook friends list (for every person, I asked myself: if I saw them in the grocery store, would we both be delighted to see each other? If the answer was no for me, or I suspected it would be no for them, I un-friended them.).

So now I have to extend this principal to my finances. Lucky for me, one of my dear friends happens to be the amazing L Bee of L Bee and the Money Tree. Years ago, she dogged me to start a budget. “It’s fun!” She chirped. “You’ll get addicted!” I smiled and nodded, but tracking money has always seemed like a horrible drudgery to me, sort of like a micro version of doing my taxes. Every single day. So, I avoided it! I likely made some bonehead financial moves (ok, I definitely did), but it was fine! I wasn’t rich but I wasn’t poor. I was blissfully ignorant. Until now.

I finally started using Learnvest.com, years after L Bee’s urging. Know what? She was right! It IS addicting! They even have a nifty app I have on my phone! I also now religiously delete ALL the sale emails I get without opening them (I miss you, J. Crew!). I set a budget for myself and do my best to stick to it, regardless of the multitude of temptations that surround me (today’s temptation was a grey sweatshirt that says “I’m just here for the savasana” in sparkle letters).

It’s not perfect, but so far, this is going pretty well. If I come up with more money-saving tips (or steal them from L Bee), I will share!

I’ll close this with a wish for prosperity for all. (‘Cause wishes are still free!)