5 Phrases That Send Me Spinning

05/26/2015 01:55 pm ET | Updated May 26, 2016

The room is dark and hazy. Pedals whir. Bright eyeballs and shiny teeth glow in the eerie blue light. I smile and say hello to everyone even though I recognize no one. I wonder if I've gone through the looking glass along the wall and stepped into an alternate world where the beat is heavy, the energy frenetic... and the language completely mysterious.


Before I know it, I join the one two rhythm and begin the grueling energizing ascent up an imaginary hill. The words I hear seem to have no meaning, and I wonder if all this activity is causing some kind of aphasic episode. Luckily my brain is smarter than I am. It refuses to acknowledge it doesn't understand the enigmatic instructions, and by the time we reach down for the next quarter turn (um... what?) it is already decoding the cryptic phrases that only make sense right here right now:

Gimme a quarter turn. This does not mean with your body, your head, or any part of your anatomy. Whatever you do, please do not actually turn one quarter clockwise, counter-clockwise or any wise. It's impossible to do that anyway since you are, hopefully, perched on your bike pedaling like crazy. One two one two one two.

"Gimme a quarter turn" is the foundation of a spin class. It means reach down, grab the red resistance knob, and turn it one quarter to the right to add resistance. And hope the instructor does not ask you to do it again. It's a futile hope. Every quarter turn adds more resistance until pretty soon you're pushing your bike up Mount Everest. Which is the point. It's worth it.

Tap backs. Yep, that's what he said. These sound elusive, confusing, and exciting: I'll tap your back if you tap mine?! Or something. I'm going to leave it there. Some moves are better left unexplained.

Go to the hover. Right, now I'm really in an alternate world. Complete with Marty McFly, hover boards and that must be the easiest way up this hill. Almost. Not quite. What it means is squeeze those abs (more on that later), summon every ounce of strength you may or probably do not have, and hover hummingbird-style above your bike. Don't stop pedaling! I promise, your thighs (and abs) will thank you one day. If they ever talk to you again!

Singles. I believe this is a shout-out to all the single people in the room. An invitation for them to do those awesome-looking push-ups and tap backs. Since I'm not one of them, I ignore this part. And pretend I don't hear him say, "Gimme a quarter turn."

Squeeze those abs. This is my favorite! The one I will never understand, no matter how loud the music. Because... how? How do you squeeze your abs? I've deduced that it does not mean grab the kangaroo-like pouch you will forever have after four pregnancies and give it a juicy squeeze with your hand. It has something to do with squeezing from the inside. The problem with this instruction is it assumes you have abs inside to squeeze. I don't. See aforementioned kangaroo pouch. So I can't. This is too much resistance.

I love this class. I love the loud music, the beat, and the tap backs. And also disco lights! I love the darkness (because the instructor can't see that I'm not giving him a quarter turn. Sneaky!), and I love the vibrant, motivating trainer telling me I can do it, especially when I feel like I can't. Which is almost every day. I believe him when he tells me. And then I do it.

Mostly, I love these quirky phrases that really only make sense in this world. Because where else would you hear anything as fabulous as, "Squeeze those abs!"

This post originally appeared on Red Boots. Follow Nicki Gilbert on Twitter and on her blog.