Cycling Contemplations

Spinning is Dancing on a Bike

I must be looking silly in spinning classes. The music’s better than at most dance parties, I’m pedaling in sync with the beat, and the effort releases a heady endorphin rush. Can’t help but bang my head and swing my hips when a particularly good song reaches its chorus.

Autumn barely just started and it’s already in full swing. We had a full week of rain, including this current weekend. It doesn’t make cycling impossible—they say there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing—but I realized long ago that I derive no pleasure from returning home covered head to toes in mud. Like the group of guys, I occasionally ride with did yesterday.

Cold I don’t mind. I’ve been cycling all previous winter, including a fun ride on New Year’s Eve:

It’s been very pleasantly tranquil with few other bikers on the usually crowded routes. So, as long as it’s dry, there’s no snow nor ice on the road, and above -5C, I’ll be cycling outside. For the other days—the wet, snowy or ice-covered ones—I found a great alternative in spinning classes.

There are a few different spinning variants, some including doing weird, push-up-like exercises on the bikes, but I stick to the regular “Spinn Bike” or just “Spinning” ones. These offer a good mix of endurance with strength and anaerobic intervals.

Yes, it’s sweating on a stationary bike in a closed room. That’ll never match the experience of being out on the tarmac. But when weather conditions are hostile, this is the next best thing. And I much prefer doing it in a gym, in a group, than home alone, on a trainer. Plus, the music more than makes up for the lack of horizon. It’s exhilarating.

The coach keeps telling us to synchronize pedaling with the beat of the songs—whether it’s a fast-beat “flatland” or a slow-beat “climb” tune. This literally makes the training feel like dancing. Because that’s exactly what you do when dancing—move your body to the beat. And somehow my coach keeps playing music that I genuinely enjoy. Today we had a selection of hits from the 90s that made feel twenty years younger. When Bomfunk MC’s “Freestyler” came on I almost melted.

There’s the additional benefit of self-regulated effort. Every bike has its own knob for regulating friction, and therefore pedaling effort. When I want a heavily strength-oriented session, I turn it up; when I prefer a steady, aerobic endurance ride, I turn it down. No need to look for hills nor flat road segments, and no incentive to race anyone around me.

My local gym, Calypso Ursynów, has perfectly scheduled spinning classes—three in a row on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. I can attend one, two, or all three at a time, depending on my mood and goals. They also, unsurprisingly, have lots of treadmills, so later I’m planning to try doing bricks there.