Ok, you might let me know if you agree with this or not – but if you have never been to a spinning class, is it or is it not true that there is this “it’s the toughest thing you’ll ever do in your life” terrorizing tale around it? I still remember the first time, years ago, that I ever heard the words “spinning class”. I was innocently walking into college, as you do, minding my own business, getting a little bored…when a group of girls started walking behind me. Now, I know you shouldn’t listen to other people’s conversations, but when you’re walking on your own, and you hear a little gossip floating in the air, your sense of hearing suddenly gets multiplied by ten. You develop this amazing ability to look exceptionally focused on your phone screen, and believing “ah-ha I fooled them all; I can’t even see the screen with the sun!”

Well, on this particular day, this group of girls were talking about what to me was an alien concept – spinning! “He had us cycling standing up for like 20 minutes” – said one of them. “Ya, and then he’d make us sit down, and stand up again, and sprint, and stand up, and arms up, arms down” – replied another one. And I vividly remember thinking to myself “WHAT is this? Must never try it”. As this class became more popular and I heard more and more people talking about it, the more I convinced myself I should never try it! Years went by and I successfully managed to avoid any encounter with this spinning class.

Until one day, I became part of the Fota Island Spa team, who run a variety of fitness classes including my dreaded – Spinning class! You should note that I am extremely unfit! I start to run out of breath every time I try to leave the house and remember that I have left half of what I want to bring out with me in my room, and have to run up and down the stairs about 5 times until I have everything I need (it would be much too easy to remember everything I’ve forgotten all at once :-P).

Two of the fitness instructors in charge of running the classes here in Fota Island Luxury Spa Resort in Ireland, Mark and Kadi, encouraged me to try the spinning class from the very first time I met them. After nearly a month of using the “I’ll go next week excuse”, and having Mark and Kadi continually ensure me “spinning isn’t hard, you can go at your own pace”, I finally put my fears aside and decided “ok, let’s do this then”. Kadi booked me into my first ever spinning class – Monday, 28th May at 7pm. And just like that, there it was, on paper – there was no turning back!

As I was getting ready for my class and thought about writing a blog about how to survive your first fitness class, I came up with a few little tips:

My preparation tips before I did the class:

• Coat yourself in the nicest smelling moisturiser you have. Once you start getting hot, your pores will open up (I just realized how not pleasant that sounds!), and release the smell of the moisturiser.
• Use some BB cream. It’ll give you a little coverage, without seeming like you’ve actually tried to put some make up on for a gym class.
• Wear a lose string top. I got one a couple sizes too big for me, so it wouldn’t stick to me as I got hotter (and I expected to get quite hot!)
• Spray just about half a can of hair spray on your hair. It will keep it in place so it doesn’t annoy you as you’re trying to cycle. And I also remember hearing that hair spray keeps your hair from looking greasy.

My preparation tips after I did the class?

• Forget all of the above! Just bring plenty of water and a towel.

You’re going to sweat, no matter how much you prepare for it in the hope that somehow you’ll manage to escape it or do it with style (did I just say sweat with style?). Moisturiser (nice smelling or not) won’t make much of a difference. BB cream – yes, it’s not as thick as foundation, but it will end up melting off your face and onto your towel. And your hair – it will look like, well, like you’ve cycled for 40 minutes.

What it’s really like:

But what I did learn was: so what? Everyone else in the class is in the exact same position as you! It’s funny how you convince yourself that you’ll be the only one sweating, the only one running out of breath, the only one struggling to understand what you’re supposed to be doing with a big red face, while everyone else just sits there looking like pro’s with wind blowing through their hair, not a drop of sweat on them as they look at you thinking “there’s the new one”. But once you actually get there, you realize just how ridiculous those thoughts were!

I won’t lie, I was pretty intimidated when I walked through the doors of the Recreational Centre here in the resort where the spinning classes are held and saw Mark (the fitness instructor) setting up a bike for me right in the middle of the first row of bikes. But once I sat down, and Mark went through everything with me I instantly felt more at ease. There’s absolutely nothing to be scared of. Essentially, all you have to do is:

 Show up and sit down. Mark will take care of adjusting your seat, your pedals, and making you feel relaxed…There’s even a place on the bike where your water bottle fits perfectly!

 There’s a little lever on the bike, and this will be your best friend for the 40 minutes of the class. You just have to flick it up or down as you go up and down the gears, and you’ll see the gears changing on the little screen in front of you.

 And that’s it!

During the class, Mark, or your fitness instructor, tells you exactly what to do: when to go up and down gears, when to sprint, when to relax (yes, there’s even some bits where you’re encouraged to take it easy. I don’t know how I had this mental image of spinning as the most unmerciful class known to man!). The most important thing, and one that I did not seem to ever realize, is that you can go at your own pace, and the instructor will encourage you to do this! During the class, Mark told us to go up gears, and I went up gears don’t get me wrong, but maybe not by as much as he had suggested! But no one knew what gear I was at, and no one was worried about what I was doing.

When you start to hear people’s breathing around you getting louder you suddenly realize “they’re exercising too!” People are concentrated on what they’re doing, just as I was concentrated on what I was doing. And slowly you start to forget about everyone else around you – it’s just you on the bike, with upbeat exhilarating music in the background and the encouraging voice from Mark “c’mon, just one more sprint, nearly there now, you can do it” and you just feel this rush of “why yes, yes I can”. Mark even timed one of our sprints to the beat of a song, and my legs just got a life of their own – as the beat got faster, off my legs went trying to keep up with it. You can’t escape it! The atmosphere of fun and excitement – it just takes over. And suddenly, even though you had thought you would take it easy, you find yourself trying to keep up with the class…it’s a contagious feeling!

The best part of it, however, is the feeling you get afterwards. A feeling of achievement and just general delight. I actually wondered why I felt so content and energized (after working out for 40 minutes I should be wrecked), and after some Googling I found out that “physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed”- so there you go!

If like me, you have been haunted by these “spinning classes are deadly” rumours, don’t be swayed by them. Give it a go! And remember when you’re there, just do what your body allows you to do, and don’t worry about anything or anyone else.

Lastly, before I leave you this week, a big thank you to Kadi for encouraging me to do this class, and Mark for teaching me that I had nothing to be afraid of…I’ve already booked my next class!

Thank you for reading 🙂