My local gym used to have a ton of classes: spin and body conditioning and yoga, etc. Then pandemic, and gyms shut down for a bit. When they reopened, my local gym had very few classes on the roster. This was a problem for me as I am a big fan of classes. I need motivation to work out. Period. This is neither good nor bad, it’s just me. While I can and do go to the gym and jump on the elliptical five times a week, I love a class.

Slowly my gym has begun adding more classes. But a few months ago they started having virtual spinning classes in the facility (as opposed to the Peloton model where you can do the classes at home).

I was not happy about these virtual classes. I like doing things in person with a live instructor. However, a virtual instructor was better than no class, so I began attending two spin classes a week.

I hate to admit this, but I loved it.

The teacher was teaching live at a studio, and there were four other gyms taking part in the same class, and we all participated by watching a huge TV in the cycling rooms at our own particular location. We could see the instructor, but she couldn’t see us. However, the instructors were able to monitor our bikes, and our progress, from the studio where they were filming. The class was set up so that my gym would be “competing” against the other gyms. Throughout the class, our stats would flash up on the monitor: how on pace we were with how the instructor was telling us to go, and how much power we were using. (FYI- I was awesome at pacing but really lousy at power)

My competitive nature clearly came out, as did the competitive nature of the others in the class. As we were cheering ourselves over “beating” the other teams, we would be laughing at ourselves for how all out we would go for this meaningless tribute.

I was working out and having fun. I really enjoyed the class.

You may have noticed that I was sort of speaking in the past tense. About six weeks ago the gym decided it wasn’t going to do virtual classes anymore. We don’t know why they stopped because we get absolutely no communication about what is and isn’t happening. But I was a little sad that virtual spin was over.

Luckily, my gym added some live, in person instructors so that there are now a few more spin classes. In fact, I was sitting on bike 19 at 6am today.

When I scheduled this post a few months ago, I thought I would be telling you about how virtual spin class was awesome- but instead I’m giving you its obituary. In a blink of an eye, things change. I guess that’s the lesson of today’s post…enjoy things while you can because nothing lasts forever.

Bikram Spinning

Bikram:  Yoga done in a really, really hot room

Spinning: Indoor exercise class, involving stationary bike with control panel similar to one found in NASA style equipment, very loud music and overly enthusiastic instructor

Bikram Spinning:  Spin class done in small room with no air conditioning

I went to a Bikram spin class yesterday.  Not intentionally, I may add.  I’d signed up (because you need to sign up in advance to exercise- you can’t just show up with sneakers and a can-do attitude)  and when I got to the gym, I found out the air conditioning in the spin room was totally busted.  A 20×20 room, with no openable windows, and 25 bikes.  Oh, and 25 people.  The temperature in the room was 85 degrees.  No lie.  Not exaggerating.  I’d have taken a picture if my phone screen wasn’t fogged up.

I knew the room was this hot.  25 people knew the room was this hot.  Yet we all stayed.  And only 1 person was getting paid.  The rest of us were paying for this privilege.

So why did I stay?

Am I a masochist?  (those of you that know me are not allowed to say yes to this.  I’m making a point, sort of)

No.  I am not a masochist.  I actually like to go to the gym.  I get pleasure from working out, and honestly, if I don’t do some sort of physical activity every day I don’t feel right.  And trust me, I am not a palestrato (Italian word for someone with overly toned body, and absolute devotion to gym workouts)  I am miles away from overly toned, and my body type is more curvy than straight.    I lead a balanced life.  I spend about an hour a day doing formal exercise.  My gym workouts aren’t about achieving an ideal physique.  They are about being healthy- both my body and my mind.  (And yes, I admit, I knew I was going to eat popcorn and pizza later that evening- so it was sort of balancing out the scales of healthy/not so healthy.)

But here’s the thing.  My hour a day at the gym is about the only time I am singularly focused on one thing.  It’s almost a form of meditation.  All I’m thinking about is pedaling, lifting, or moving my feet and arms.  I’m not thinking about my to do list.  I’m not obsessing about tiny details.  I’m not worrying about family or friends or the state of the world-  I’m as close to a blank slate as possible.  And I need this- I need a blank slate.

So for 45 minutes yesterday, I worked through the sweat (anyone who tells you that  women don’t sweat but glow is an idiot)  I cursed out the instructor when she told us to turn it up (meaning increase the resistance- as if you’re going uphill).  I drank more water that I thought possible.  For the first time in my life, my hands kept slipping down  on the handlebars- no towel could help.  But all I thought about was pedaling, breathing, working though it.  Nothing else.  Blank slate.

By the end of class, the temperature in the room was 87 degrees- there wasn’t a dry body in the room.  We looked at each other- survivors- warriors.   and I looked at the control panel of my bike:  CALORIES BURNED- 32.  Good thing I exercise for my mind.