Ride Or Die: Spinny-Minny Wannabe Dana Just About Keels Over In Class
Not that I'm intimidated or anything (riiiiight), but the "parent body" of the Catholic school my totlette attends is densely populated with beautiful, super-fit mommies bursting with energy. Some are mega runners (hello Rasa, Darlene and Michelle!), others play a mean game of tennis (bonjour Lynn and Tammy!) and two more - who happen to go by the names of Lorena and Bridget - have a weekly spin class + coffee date at our local mega-gym, Suncoast Fitness.
Though I'm not quite as sporty as that bunch, I don't exactly sit around eating bon bons. In fact, about eight weeks ago, I went for such a super-long run that I thoroughly trashed my right hamstring.
The hamstring pull hurt like a mofo, but not enough to keep me from playing tennis. I also spent quality time (zzzzzzzzz...) on the elliptical and lifting weights.
But what I really wanted to do was to try was my first-ever spin class. I thought it might be an excellent cardio swap for my beloved running. But more importantly, after two long weeks on vacay, my ass is the size of Texas.
So last Sunday morning, at the ungodly hour of 8:30, I tip-toed into the spin room at Suncoast and set up shop.
Stupidly picking the one bike that was in the direct line of fire of the charmingly ferocious instructor, I sized-up my fellow riders. A sea of women in all shapes and sizes - with one lone, brave dude in the upper left corner - they looked seriously ready to rumble.
Happily, though, there were two other brand-newbies on either side of me. How do I know they were first-timers? They said so. And they weren't shy about having the charmingly ferocious instructor adjust their bikes and give them a little pre-class pep talk.
I got none of this - the seat adjustment, the pre-class pep talk - because I didn't ask.
But what I had, that my fellow newbies didn't, was the knowledge that over-doing it in spin class can land you in the hospital. That came courtesy of this terrifying piece in The New York Times about something called "rhabdo."
Rhabdo is short for rhabdomyolosis, "a rare but life-threatening condition often caused by extreme exercise."
Per The Times, rhabdo crops up "when overworked muscles begin to die and leak their contents into the bloodstream, straining the kidneys and causing severe pain." Typically associated with firefighters and soldiers and others with physically demanding jobs, it's now showing up in spin class warriors who push themselves waaaaaaay too hard.
How do you know you have rhabdo? I mean, besides the excruciating pain and the inability to basically move? Your pee turns a lovely shade of dark brown. Niiiiiice...
I wasn't gonna let rhabdo happen to me, no frigging way.
To her credit, the charmingly ferocious instructor repeatedly instructed the class to calm the ---- down and take it easy if necessary.
"I don't know what you've got going on up here," she barked into her headset, pointing at her noggin. "I don't know what you did yesterday. If you need to sit, sit."
So I sat. And then I scanned the room to see how my fellow first-timers were faring. Honestly? They looked horrible. Huffing, puffing and wheezing. Sopping wet. Scared. One of 'em had changed bikes - as if that was gonna help the situation.
I just didn't want to be those girls. I didn't want to try to tough it out. And I most certainly didn't want to wind up as Suncoast's first documented case of spin-induced rhabdo.
So while it was super duper embarrassing, I hopped off my bike mid-class and headed to the door.
"Thank you," barked Charmingly Ferocious Instructor as I zipped past.
No thank you, Charmingly Ferocious Instructor. I'll be back. Even if it takes 10 classes before I make it all the way to a full hour, I will do it.
And in the meantime, I've compiled a handy list of tips for first-time, would-be spinny minnies like moi. I scoured the World Wide Interweb for us. Thank me later.
5 Hot Tips
1. Before-hand, eat a little and drink a lot. Don't even think of spinning on a completely empty stomach. Have a healthy snack, and guzzle a ton of H20.
2. Seriously consider wearing a heart-rate monitor. I think I need one of these. Wait - I know I need one of these. During my first-ever class my heart felt like it might leap right out of my chest and onto that sticky, gooey floor. It would be great to know if I was in real danger of keeling over, right? I'm guessing yes.
3. Get help with your bike. You don't know what you're doing. Accept that. Don't be a shy wuss like me. Put on your big-girl undies and seek professional assistance. These spin instructor broads are literally trained to move those seats up and down and all around.
4. Don't stop pedaling cold-turkey. If and when you start to konk out, slow down gradually. Going from maximum effort to nada could result in lightheadedness. Or worse - fainting. Can you imagine fainting in spin class? That would be waaaay more embarrassing than slowing down. Kidding, folks. Fainting in a spin room packed to the rafters with bikes could be extremely dangerous. As in head-concussion kind of dangerous.
5. When it's over, streeeeeetch. Personally, I hate stretching. That's probably why I got the running-generated pulled hamstring in the first place. But that led me to my first-ever spin class, which I'm convinced is gonna change my life once I get the hang of it. So maybe not stretching is a good thing? No, it isn't. Don't be like me. Stretch.