Serial Spin-Dating at the Jersey Shore

I don't workout in high heels, but I'm high maintenance with my workouts ;-)

I consider myself a low-maintenance girl. (Brother Bear, if you disagree, feel free to let it out in the comments section…)

I’m easily entertained, don’t wear a lot of makeup, enjoy a Subway sandwich as much as a gourmet meal, prefer dive bars to exclusive clubs and can’t tell the difference between a $5 glass of wine and a $50 glass. Oh, and I rarely send back food. For example, during a work lunch the other day, my coworker had to force me to send back my salad, which contained an extremely molded tomato (even the server was horrified).

Low-maintenance, indeed.

But, when it comes to my workout, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am extremely HIGH maintenance. I workout at a pricey gym, must have music on at all times and can’t stand when my clothes don’t fit just right. If any of the elements are out of sync, my workout is off, thus affecting my entire day.

High-maintenance, indeed.

I’m sure many of you can relate. Your workout is your “me” time. Whether you’re a mother of three who rarely steals a moment for herself or a corporate girl who spends the better part of your days at the office, that 45-60 minutes is your time to eliminate all other cares in the world and focus on yourself.

Sweat Time = Me Time

For me, personally, I like to do my own thing when it comes to workouts. That’s why running has always been the ideal for of exercise for this Sometimes Healthy Girl. I can keep the workouts exciting to avoid the dreaded plateau by varying my pace and speed and mixing in a little weight training here and there. And whenever, I’m feeling fatigued or burnt out, I can throw in a little Lazy Girl’s Workout or even a kickboxing class once in a while. Plus, as I mentioned in Friday’s post, I can get in a little “deep thinking” as well. Running never gets boring to me, and I always end a run feeling better than when I started.

Most importantly, I’m in the driver’s seat.

I like to be in the driver's seat, so I run...and take pictures of half of my face.

I do NOT like to hand the reins over to someone else.

Well, due to the foot injury, running, for the forseeable future cannot be my primary form of exercise (latest from the physical therapist is that I’m allowed up to 2 miles a day…I feel like he means 4 right?). And a girl can only hit up the elliptical and stairmaster so many times before she starts climbing stairs in her sleep.

The elliptical and politics = recipe for a snoozefest

So back in June, as the injury persisted, I knew it was time to put someone else in the driver’s seat and take a class at my gym. Since the absence of running put me in a “fragile” state of mind, I wasn’t really down with trying to master something that requires intense amounts of focus and flexibility (aka yoga/pilates) or coordination (aka Zumba, step, etc). I just couldn’t deal with the humbling experience of trying something new (yes, I’m dramatic – I know.)

I needed something, predictable, reliable and easy to figure out.

These things aren't that complicated. Even I can handle it.


Enter spinning.

Anyone, and I mean anyone can ride a stationary bike. Moving bikes are a whole different bag of tricks – thus the reason I shall never do a triathlon.

My gym (and most gyms) offers an abundance of spinning classes, so even with my crazy schedule, it was easy to make at least 2 classes a week. I had hit up some spinning classes a couple times during marathon on cross-training days. Never really liked them, but they were bearable in small doses.

Well, after extensive trial and error over the past three months, I’ve finally learned to love spin class. And I’ve realized the winning ticket: It’s all about the spinning instructor. It’s kind of like dating. Sometimes you have to go on a lot of bad first dates (where all you want to to do is run out the door but you can’t because it’s rude) before you find what really works for you. Luckily, unlike in the dating world, often there may be more than just “the one.” You can, in fact cheat on your favorite spinning instructor without feeling guilty.

Sweaty and happy...that's how I feel after a good...spin session.

It’s been a “long” road to finding the perfect spinning instructor. There was lots of sweat. There were numerous horrible techno songs. And there were countless cuss words shouted in my head at the spinning instructors I really didn’t like. But in the end, it was worth it. I found a solid substitute for running that I’ll continue to do, even when I’m back to running double digit miles again.

But for fun, let’s talk about what works and what doesn’t work for me when it comes to spin. Here’s what I look for out of my ideal spinning instructor match…

Sometimes Healthy’s Spinning Checklist

DON’T take me to the Club: As mentioned above, I’m a dive bar kind of girl anyway. I don’t use the word “hate” lightly, but I hate clubs. So, naturally, when my spinning class reminds me of a club, I’m not a happy girl. There are two ways to recreate the club scene in the confines of a spin class: 1) Techno music and 2) Fist pumping.

Personally, I think it’s important for songs in spin class to take me on a “journey” for lack of a better term. When I’m climbing up the hill, I want the song to take me on the climb and motivate me to dig deep. When I’m recovering from a hill or intervals, I want a song that helps me come back down. Techno music rarely changes. It’s just the same “boom boom boom” the whole time. I never understood the rage in the club, and I certainly don’t get it in spin class. So please, save the techno for weekend escapades, dear spinning instructor.

And about the fist pumping. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fist pump every now and then. In fact, my fave instructor often throws in a couple at the end of class (love that guy). But, what really kills me is when the instructor stands in front of the room and dances instead of tells me what the heck I’m supposed to be doing. It worked for Richard Simmons, but that was the exception to the rule.

Whether you’re dancing like Ronnie or Richard…I’m not interested.

DON’T Serenade Me: It didn’t work for Kacey on the Bacehlorette, and it definitely doesn’t work for me in the middle of spin class.

The last thing I need when I’m one spin away from passing out on my bike is my spinning instructor shouting the words to “Tiny Dancer.” (Yes, that happened). Again, don’t get me wrong, there are times when a song warrants a little participation, because the chorus is so well-known and catchy. Take the ever-popular classic, Journey’s, “Don’t Stop Believing.” It’s pretty much impossible to listen to that song without bellowing the words, “Don’t stop. Beliiiieving. Hold on to that feeeeeeling!” I get it. You can’t help yourself. Neither can I. I may even sing with you.

But please, don’t serenade me.

DON’T Lie to Me: I’m not looking at my watch (that’s so rude on a spin date, don’t ya think?). But you are. So, dear spinning instructor, when you tell me there are 20 seconds left in the interval, don’t make it 40 or 60. I’m counting on you to be honest with me. Otherwise, I will secretly resent you, and a relationship built on resentment can never work out in the long term.

DON’T Ask me to be a Bunny Rabbit: Nobody wants to sit on a stationary bike for 45 minutes. Nobody wants to stand up in a stationary bike for 45 minutes either. It’s GOOD to have a mix of both. But please, don’t make me hop up and down every twenty seconds. Maybe it’s a good workout, but it makes me feel like a bunny rabbit and is quite uncomfortable.

DON’T Tell Me About Your Past Relationships: Spinning instructor, even if we make it past the “first date,” please don’t bring your most recent break-up story to the class. No relationship can flourish when there’s emotional baggage involved. Of course, a broken heart is something we all can relate to…we just don’t go to spinning class to talk about it. That’s what therapy and best friends are for.

I went to one spinning class a couple weekends ago where the instructor was fresh off a breakup. Apparently, he was dumped. So, first came the angry heavy metal music. That was fine, I could deal. Next, came some creepy, Indie girlie music. It started to get a little…awkward. Finally, when “Love Hurts” came blaring through the speakers, he had gone too far. I met eyes with another girl in the class, and it was clear that we had officially crossed over into “this is uncomfortable” territory.

Check the break-up bags at the door, Mr. Spinstructor.

DO Show Me Something Different: While I like to know what’s coming next, in terms of intervals and hills, sometimes it’s fun to get a little surprise in my morning spin class. After all, without spice, every relationship gets stale. So, please dearest spinning instructor, mix it up every now and then.

A couple weeks ago, the instructor in my Friday spinning class said he was taking us to the “Drive-In” during class. He then turned off the lights and projected awesome music videos to the front of the room. I was so excited, I tweeted about it.
On Wednesday, one of my other fave instructors made a cheesy 80’s playlist with songs from the most popular 80’s movies. It was a small change-up, but just what I needed on a sleepy, hump day morning. Any class that contains references to Top Gun, Goonies and Flashdance is sure to rev up my engines.

DO Get Technical but DON’T Get too Technical: Tell me what my RPM should be. Tell me what zone my work level should be in.Tell me to turn up my resistance. Even lecture me about my form every now and then.

But if you go beyond that and start to drill down to the mechanics, you’re probably going to lose me. This is spin class – not figure skating. I’m not looking to become a professional indoor cyclist anytime soon. Big words will get you nowhere, Mr. Spin Instructor. Keep it simple – I’m not that smart at 6 AM.

DO Feed me Cheesy One-Liners: When you’re sitting in the front of the room showing me who’s boss, you’re in a position of power. I hang on your every word. For that 45 minutes, your voice (and of course music) are the one thing getting me through my workout. I rarely allow others to run the conversation, but during spin class, it’s all you, baby.

I love it when my spinning instructor shouts out cheesy motivational phrases. One of them even reads poetry at the end during recovery and after pushing myself to the limits, I eat it up. Tell me that Snooki is running for Congress, and I’ll believe you. I’ll pretty much believe whatever you say, so lay it on me.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Ride that bike like you’re stealing it!
  • Did you know spinning produces the same chemicals in your brain that weed does when you get high? Let’s get high in spinning class this morning!
  • You didn’t wake up this early to be lazy.
  • If it hurts, that just means you’re getting stronger.
  • Close your eyes and picture someone you really miss at the top of a hill. Now, ride towards them (I totally closed my eyes.)

DO Force me Into a Two-Way Conversation: Nobody wants to talk to themselves for 45 minutes. I get it. I love when you try to get me involved, whether it’s “races” with each side of room or actually asking me to yell ridiculously cheesy phrases like, “I am strong!” while powering up a hill.

Okay, I’m not necessarily going to do it. But, I appreciate the thought, and it always makes me smile when you try to pull it out of me. It’s so…cute.

So there you have it.

The above lists everything and anything I look for out of the perfect spin class. It took a lot of trial and error, but I think I’ve found my perfect match(es).

You’re welcome for all of the Jersey Shore references. I know you’re all as excited as I am to see Deena and Snooki makeout on tonight’s episode. And with that, I’m off to hand yet another hour of my life over to Snooki, the Situation and crew. Yes, I’ll never get that hour back. And yes, I’m okay with that.

I’ll make up for it during tomorrow’s spin class with my #1 instructor.


Are you picky about your spinning class? What do you look for out of an ideal spinning class?

Do you consider yourself high maintenance when it comes to working out?

14 Thoughts on “Serial Spin-Dating at the Jersey Shore

  1. Michelle on 16 September, 2011 at 9:49 am said:

    Great insights. I totally think the instructor makese the class and really hate the bunny rabbit myself. I like popular music and a peppy instructor who makes you work. :)

  2. I love spinning and I totally agree the instructor makes or breaks the class. I had one instructor that had us run a lap in the middle of class and never had us add resistance. I never went back!

  3. OMgoodness….I loved this post:-) I have never taken a spin class, but now I know what to look for when I do!

  4. Loved this post as usual!! These are great tips for spinning… for me the instructor makes or breaks the class. Well actually if the music selection is lacking than that is no fun either!

  5. Great post! I’m not a huge spin person but if I was injured and belonged to a gym, I would most definitely go for it as I’ve tried a class or two in the past and loved the sweaty workout it gave me! Good thoughts on what to look for – I’m in total agreement! And the stories you’ve lived through sound pretty hilarious…at least you’ve been entertained along the way. 😉 Sorry about your foot still! Here’s to a quicker-than-you’re-expecting recovery!

  6. hahaha I read your post earlier this morning and as I was taking a spin class {with a HORRIBLE instructor I must add} I couldnt help but think about your post. You nailed everything to the t. I looove spin class but nothing is more annoying when the instructor tells you their whole love story throughout class.

  7. i love spinning! but it has to be the right instructor because it can either be the best workout ever or a simple bike ride. the first time i went to spin, it was amazing! but i went again after that and the instructor was playing the slowweessttt songs. that was not a good one. but besides that i love spin :)

  8. hahahahaha. this post is amazing and completely cracked me up. And, this is so true! I don’t go to spinning very often lately, but when I do I get so mad when the instructor sucks. There was this one woman at NYSC who was just awful, she was all spiritual-y and her music was this new age weird crap that was not meant for a spinning class. Terrible. Just give me some top 40 upbeat jams and kick my ass (in a good way)!

  9. This … was godsend. What a great way to end my Monday at work. Absolutely hilarious. I also love spinning but know how it can be a precarious situation when something’s not right. Re: a spin instructor who was recently dumped … I took a hiphop class at Broadway Dance Center a few months ago, and the instructor had just gotten fired that day. He was teaching his last class and COMPLETELY took it out on us. Absolutely ridiculous. Yikes!

  10. lol, this post is hilarious! I obsessively have looked for great spin classes and treked across the city for a good class in my 5+ years of spinning.

    btw, i wrote a similar post about spinning, you should check it out. I bet you might recognize a few of the teachers I talk about too!

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