Formal exercise has never really been my idea of ‘me-time’ (or ‘me-anything’ really). So you would think that by aged thirty-lalala, I would know enough to realise joining a gym will not end well. Unfortunately, having a baby wiped out 80% of my memory so alas, thanks to the lure of an opening rate and a foolishly optimistic bid to ‘look after myself’ I have once again taken the path less trodden and signed my-foolish-self up.

The part of my brain that remains tells me I am an idiot. The part that is now basically just a big ball of useless fluff says exercise will make me feel as good as eating chocolate, but without the guilt or the brown sticky smears all over my face…

So bravely (stupidly), I decided I would give the allegedly addictive craze that is gym cycling a go. And if you’re set to take the plunge too, my beginner’s guide below might be just the thing to clue you in. Or put you off completely.

  • Arrive early to secure the coveted back row. This is clearly the right thing for everyone involved, plus, if you need to slip away…
  • Fiddle to adjust the seat, and the handle bar distance, and the handle bar height. Repeat several times.
  • Feel uncomfortable at every possible position so pick a random number and hope that it pans out.
  • Climb on and off the bike as this definitely feels wrong, and ask anyone who will listen -is this right?
  • Does this look right? What height are you? Is it meant to hurt already?
  • Silently judge the participants who are already cycling. What is with that? Is 45 minutes of fresh hell not enough for them? Try hard!
  • Instructor arrives so begin pedalling. You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot, or pedal.
  • So you’re cycling – when does a cycle become a spin? Regardless – check you out!
  • Wonder how the seat can hurt your bum this much already.
  • “GET READY TO SPRINT, TURN YOUR RESISTANCE UP A FULL TURN.”
  • Dutifully turn your resistance up a full turn and… sprint… sort of
  • How is everyone else going so fast? Are they on drugs?
  • Realise you have made a mistake and wish you had the courage to leave.
  • “TURN YOUR RESISTANCE UP AGAIN – YOU CAN DO THIS!”
  • Do not turn your resistance up again – you cannot do this!
  • Fantasise about what else you could be doing now. Like sitting on a soft surface and breathing normally.
  • The sprint is over – thank you God. Have a drink and contemplate your mortality
  • “GET READY FOR THE NEXT SPRINT – 3, 2, 1 – GO!”
  • Throw your water bottle at the instructor (but only in your mind).
  • Are told to keep your RPM to 140 – laugh hysterically
  • Pedal as fast as you can and try not to cry
  • Cry
  • Stand and cycle which is a relief from the glamorous saddle sore, until the pain in your legs become unbearable.
  • “TURN YOUR RESISTANCE UP!”
  • Pretend to turn your resistance up.
  • The instructor is looking at you. Is he looking at you? He knows you haven’t turned your dial up. What if he checks? Well, you will tell him not to be so impertinent. He won’t check though, will he? Surely everyone else pretends, too… even him?
  • Your RPM is not increasing but you are pedalling so hard. Wonder… have you… died?
  • Are told you are doing well and think: I am doing well! I am almost certain he is being sincere.
  • Stop feeling you are doing well. Stop feeling well full stop. This is bad, this is evil in exercise form.
  • “NOW SQUATS AND DIPS.”
  • Say what now? Squats – on a bike – whilst cycling? Decide this cannot be legal.
  • Think that the inventor of the bicycle would not be pleased to learn about the torturous contraption it has been manipulated into.
  • “CHALLENGE YOURSELF!”
  • Think of something sweary that the instructor should maybe go do to himself, but are too polite (and out of breath) to say so.
  • Finish squats and have a quick respite. Decide this is actually quite enjoyable, in a horrible kind of way. You are going to be so super fit with this.
  • Pick up speed and see your RPM hit 135. You must be hallucinating.
  • This feels brilliant: up – down – back – forwards – you are so doing this! This could be your thing.
  • Decide you will go gym cycling twice a week, you are unstoppable!
  • Your legs are shaking and your bum is so sore it might actually be weeping. Realise therefore that this is probably NOT your thing, and by ‘spinning twice a week’ you mean ‘never again’.
  • Still… you are exercising muscles you didn’t even know you had. This can’t be half bad for 45 minutes. You may have even earned a doughnut.
  • Lost in thoughts of doughnuts, turn your resistance up as instructed. Well, if you’re going to die anyway…
  • Turn your resistance back down. You are not ready to die yet.
  • As the hell session draws to a close, cool down and stretch and decide it wasn’t that bad – quite easy really.
  • Drive home buzzing and buoyant. Next week you will cycle there and back!
  • Climb out of the car and crumple to the ground – your legs have seized up completely. Crawl to your front door.
  • Gratefully collapse inside.
  • Book again for next week. Sucker.

Originally published on Big Trouble in Little Nappies which can be followed via Facebook.

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