"Let's go to spin class together, mom! There's a new Soul Cycle that opened in Westport."
How could I resist my darling 29-year-old son's request? I'm an empty-nester, after all, and we don't get to spend much one-on-one time together. Jonathan was planning on visiting for the day, and what better way to kick off the morning than with some high-energy exercise?
I thought back nostalgically to when he first mastered a two-wheeler, remembering the pride I felt in handing down his bright red trike to his younger brother Jeremy. I longingly thought about our bike rides through the bucolic winding country roads of Connecticut; sharing a day of wild and daring mountain biking down steep hills in Vermont while on vacation.
This spin class might not be real, outdoor biking, but it was gonna be fun. Besides, I was excited to get back to spinning, after abandoning it months ago when I started training for my first half-marathon. I don't know why I never went back to it, but maybe this was the impetus I needed to get started again.
Jonathan went online and reserved two bikes side-by-side. I did the heavy lifting and forked over a rather hefty sum (that was probably more than my parents paid for my first tricycle). Then we set off to the newly-opened center of spinning excellence.
Call me cynical, but I'm convinced that places like this create their own aura by doing a few things:
1. They make the entrance so tiny that it's inevitable a line will form. Any place that has a long line snaking out the door looks popular and in demand. Anyone waiting on that line feels like they're lucky to have snagged a spot in the class. Anyone walking or driving by will crane their necks to look and think, "Wow, that place must be great -- it's packed! Gotta go there some time -- if I'm lucky enough to get in, that is."
2. They keep the room too hot so that when the students stumble out of the class with sweat pouring off of them, rooting around for the nearest water fountain, people waiting to go into the next class will think, "Wow, what a great workout everyone gets here! I can't wait to get in there and sweat it out!"
3. They keep the room so dark because:
a). you can't see if your neighbor is dead or alive
b). your neighbor can't see you grimacing in pain from the fire you feel in your thighs
c). if you want to leave class early, you can't, because you can't find your way out.
4. They blast the music so loud because:
a). the pain in your ears makes you forget about the pain in your thighs
b). the instructor can't hear the obscenities you're screaming her way
c). your neighbor can't hear you pleading for help
But wait -- there's more. I'm convinced that the class helps you get in touch with your body like no other form of exercise -- it's enlightening, really! -- by forcing you to pay attention to the following questions:
1. Why is my heart pounding out of my chest when I'm not even a quarter-way through the damn class?
2. Why do I not recognize the sweat dripping off my body onto the floor below me as my own?
3. Why do I feel like I'm going to fall off the bike when the bike is not even moving?
4. What happens to my bladder if I can't make it to the bathroom because I can't find my way to the door?
5. Why am I slumped over the handlebars when I'm supposed to be using them to do pushups?
AND WHY AM I THE OLDEST ONE IN THE ROOM, DAMMIT?!
You've probably figured out by now that I won't be back. Frankly, I'm pining for my "real" bike that is currently being stored in the garage in my apartment building, gathering dust and rusting from disuse (kind of like what happens to our bodies if we don't use them). There it sits, day after day, idle and chained, leaning heavily against all the other bikes that carry forgotten dreams.
Maybe it's time to go dust off the old girl and take her out for a spin.