Spinning a Yarn

Deciding that I needed to get fitter, I’ve taken up spinning, not so much as a duck to water but more of wool to the spindle; prickly (me) and painful meet. It’s only the agony which keeps me awake in classes; a static bike is terminally dull. The scenery is limited to a red rubbery floor, the grey wall beyond, the instructor shouting, or the side of a sweaty body next to me; none of which feature in the Recommended Sights of Dorset Guide.

In terms of excitement, I can either stand up or sit down to cycle. I can pretend to accelerate or slow down, but can’t aim to steer right or left without causing major internal haemorrhage. Recently they made it even more thrilling by getting us to pedal eight rotations standing up and eight sitting. We were thoroughly entertained.

Being yelled at that we’re travelling uphill, or to go faster as it’s now down, we crank the gears to tougher and lighter like cliff-deprived, yet obedient, lemmings. It would terrific to get an instructor without acute delusional states featuring mystic hill climbs or one who wasn’t into verbal flagellation.

I go there dressed in whatever first comes to hand. Some people clearly take the cycling fashion runway more seriously, turning up with proper cycle shoes and shorts, with stuff that actually matches. One guy even turns up in a professional looking shirt with reflective strips on it, but this is fair, as he cycles to his cycling class. Double terrific, all that extra added fun.

If they play something jolly the music helps, but often they play seriously dull tunes and yell at us to keep going for six minutes. I could do that in the gym by myself without having somebody shouting at me to keep speed up, slow down, stand up, sit down, lean forward, lean back, body rigid, bounce on my feet, use my right leg only, left leg only, yawn.

A very large television screen with the Tour de France on it would help, so we could pretend to be there, whizzing along, or filant le long de according to Google translate. A little filant would suit me fine, unless I ended up in the second row with a view only of sky, floor and a set of sweat-soaked gluteal muscles. Tiny televisions on the bikes would be better, creating  genuine self-motivation but the instructors would doubtless refuse to work with them as it would take away all their fun in shouting.

The problem with cycling alone in the gym is the tendency to cheat. This is not intentional. I start out wanting to use up masses of calories; my burning desire. However, in the gym there are four televisions, so, rejecting football and MTV, I get completely drawn in by whether Harold will answer the question and win a fluffy octopus or the best way to de-seed a vanilla pod (You thought there was only one way? Duh! Watch more television, my friend) (but only straddling a bike: the healthy kind of TV. Someone tell my kids). So gripped am I by these programs, despite the lack of a plot, I cycle along for ages at what should have been a warm-up level. Also, in a spinning class I can hum quietly during some of the more robust tracks, but it’s difficult to sing along to cooking programs.

I’ll have to think of something else soon before my brain explodes or leaves home. Yet with a rotten right shoulder my options are limited. I can’t do Zumba classes, as dancing with my arms by my side would create a bizarre sort of Riverdance. Racket sports are out unless I play left-handed which is coming along slowly, but hardly counts as sporty yet, other than for my son being sporting to bother playing against me. Swimming without arms would be even duller.

My consolation should have been an enormous amount to weight falling off in response to my self-induced dynamic boredom, but my scales don’t appear to have got this message yet. I presume that if I keep this up, I’ll land up at the same weight but with a tiny waist and frogs’ legs. I’d rather be tiny all over and let the frog stay in one piece.

Currently I don’t spin on Sundays, but do so daily from Monday on. It’s the ultimate form of recycling.


About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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