What do you love to do that also helps you stay fit and healthy? Does it lift your spirits? Fill you with joy? Give you a sense of euphoria? My fitness routine involves long walks and yoga and volleyball. I love all of it.
However, nothing compares to the kick I get by taking a Spin class. The blaring music, the up-and-down, and the sheer vigorousness of it energizes me and keeps me working harder and longer than I ever would on my own. I absolutely love it.
More importantly, Spin saved me.
A few years back, my dad was dying. I was in a stupor, muddling through my days, and doing what I could to keep it together. Some days, a Spin class was the only reason I would get dressed and out of the house in the morning.That insidious creeper, depression, was trying to drag me down. Though it was so tempting to collapse face-down on my bed, I knew that, at the gym, I could literally Spin my troubles away. The temporary infusion of endorphins I got made it possible to get through the day.
A great Spin class, or ‘The Endorphin Factory’ as I like to call it, continues to boost my energy and my outlook today. I am religious about attending the 9:30 am Wednesday class at RMA Fitness, and now and again grab a class at Fit Revolution as well. I love Spin so much, I changed my work schedule to free up Wednesdays. I’ve even been known to adjust our vacation departure time so I could squeeze in one last class before we go.
Addicted? Maybe. And probably obnoxious. I am that person — the one who always grabs a bike in the front row, who cheers on the instructor, and who mouths the words to the songs as we go. I’m also that person who can’t contain her good mood, and ends up calling her favorite people in the hour following class to spread the neurotransmitter-induced euphoria.
Just a little perk of knowing me
So, we’ve established a fact: I. LOVE. SPIN. After 6 years of being a dedicated student, I’ve noticed, however, that I don’t love ALL of it. I go through a series of ‘stages’ that look something like this:
STAGE 1: PRE-WORKOUT
9:30 am I arrive cheerfully, and look forward to class. Like women seem to do when it comes to the memory of the labor of childbirth*, I seem to have forgotten or am in denial about what comes next. I chat it up with pals like Phil and Sandy. We’re all regulars at this low-key family-owned gym. It’s the fitness equivalent of the famed Cheers bar. Everybody knows my name, which is good, ’cause around Stage 3, I might need reminding.
*I’ve never actually experience the labor of childbirth. Three births. Three C-sections. So this is all theoretical to me. But I imagine a collective lapse of memory in women is the only thing keeping the human race going.
STAGE 2: DANCE PARTY
9:40 am The music is loud and we are working it hard and fast. With eyes shut, I am in a standing sprint, singing under my breath. I listen for the audibles from our instructor, Krista, so I know what comes next. She is a pint-sized Energizer bunny, with incredible strength and endless endurance. Just to finish her class without falling unconscious off the bike is an accomplishment. Sadly, Krista seems rhythmically challenged, or at least ignores the importance of incorporating dance into everything you do, and so I challenge myself to keep her insane pace while still ‘dancing’ in time to the music. I be like…
STAGE 3: HELLFIRE
9:55 am. Lungs are bleeding. The ears are ringing. Sweat is rolling off my elbows onto the floor. Breakfast is thinking about making an encore all over my handle bars. I hate everything and everyone, especially the mini-terrorist who has replaced Krista and is barking impossible commands.
“Turn it all the way!”
“C’mon, head down. RUN!”
I make the grave mistake of glancing at the clock. It’s only 9:55?? Officially my least favorite time of day. Don’t talk to me.
STAGE 4: SECOND WIND
10:20 am I can breathe and it’s awesome! BRING. IT. ON. I’m sweating buckets, but every motion seems easier now. The lungs are wide open, and oxygen is being delivered to vital cells faster than you can say Amazon Prime.
I’m a super-efficient energy machine, and I’m on auto-pilot. Creativity is quite high at this point. In fact, I wrote most of this post in my head during last week’s class. Daydreaming is also common. Sometimes I co-host The Ellen DeGeneres Show or choreograph a corny dance number or re-visit a fave vacation spot.
STAGE 5: ENDORPHINS R US
10:30 am Yay!! Another one done and in the books. Sandy, Phil, and I are so happy to be done.
I’m soaked and red-faced and exhausted in the best way. Here come the ENDORPHINS! These feel-good neurotransmitters will be coursing through my system for several hours, all because I did some exercise. This is a very, very good effect, and nobody explains WHY that is so good better than my girl, Elle Woods.
Where’s YOUR endorphin factory located? On the yoga mat? At Zumba? In your hiking shoes? On the tennis court? Tell me! I’d love to hear all about it