The Case of the Spinning Smiter: Chapter 1

Hard to imagine that just eight short days ago, the good Frau Doktor Smiter was sitting slumped in her physiotherapist’s office, ruefully examining her growing collection of fat cells, massaging her injured foot and moaning about how she couldn’t exercise any more and was turning into Captain Flabula.

Inspired, perhaps, by the knowledge that my foot is actually getting better (I have a heel spur & plantar fasciitis, bane of runners everywhere), or maybe just tired of my ceaseless whinging, Kim the long-suffering physiotherapist said, “Why don’t you give spinning a try?”

Now, as I have mentioned before (and as anyone even remotely acquainted with me knows) I am a klutz. Despite my best efforts to stay Fit and Active, I attract injuries and accidents the way cat hair clings to a rug. “Diary of a Klutz,” posted earlier on this site, will drive that point home for you, should you doubt me. (If that doesn’t, my fabulous array of scars will.)

I am also Scottish, and therefore cheap. Spinning costs money. Lots and lots of lovely money. I do not like to part with money. (Sources say copper wire was invented by two Scots fighting over a penny.)

And finally, I am a procrastinator. This may come as a surprise to those kind souls among you who view me as accomplished, but I am balky as a mule. I make up for it in spades sometimes by doing something wildly impulsive (such as suddenly moving overseas, for example — about which more later) but for the most part I am a creature of habit, routine and comfort. Getting me to do something new or unfamiliar is like trying to budge a cow down a flight of stairs. Ain’t gonna happen till I get me the lay of the land, my friend.

However, I am also female and to that extent I am spurred on (despite all appearances to the contrary) by vanity. And the fact that I have been sitting mostly idle for the better part of nine months with not so much as a full-term infant to show for it has resulted in my collecting rather more poundage around the hips & bum than I am comfortable with.

Also, sitting around doing nearly nothing makes me mental.

So, without further ado, I looked up the spin studio to which gentle Kim had referred me — a lovely spot called Energia, conveniently located too close to my abode for me to make any further excuses — and vowed to present my pear-shaped self there first thing the next morning.

At one minute to ten the next day I was seated on a groovy high-tech stationary bike, water-bottle perched coyly in its little holder below me, little white towel gracefully arrayed on the handlebars, feet on the pedals and ready for action.

At four minutes past ten, I remember thinking, “Oh God, bring me a bucket” and wondering whether what I’d had for breakfast would taste as good coming up as it did going down.

At ten minutes past, I remembered that I have run six (yes, six) half-marathons with much less wailing and gnashing of teeth. I shaddap already and got down to business.

At 10:45 a.m. I staggered out of the class, mopping my neck and brow, grinning stupidly and surfing on a tsunami of endorphins. Home, stretch out, glass of milk (protein after exercise, people, protein!), shower, get on with day…

…10:45 p.m.: OMG, will these endorphins ever quit?

Sunday, 10:45 a.m.: Where the hell are the endorphins? I hurt, dammit! I feel like someone big and angry went over me with a bag of hockey sticks. Bring me endorphins NOW! … Oh, there’s the Advil. OK. Mmmmm. Advil.

After a couple of days of easing my ruined carcass carefully around home and office, with the attendant grace & poise of someone who has been recently hit by a locomotive, the stiffness began to subside and I was able to present myself for a second class. I had bought the unlimited intro one-week pass and was determined (see “Scottish” and “cheap,” above) to get my money’s worth.

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s sessions were much easier (by “easier” I mean I did not have to be carried to a waiting ambulance afterward) and by Thursday morning I was busily rearranging my home and work schedules (such as they are) to accommodate spinning, spinning and more spinning. Money be damned, I cried triumphantly, tapping feverishly into my online bank account and shifting funds. I will spin! Ha ha!

Thursday night I braved a late-season snowstorm and presented myself for the combination spin/core class. “Core” has something to do with Pilates, I believe, and basically targets your “stand up straight, young lady” muscles, the ones you’ve been neglecting since you learned to mix a martini. A friend mentioned “Core” to me in the same sentence as she mentioned the words “abs” and “totally freakin’ ripped!” and hey, that was enough for me (see “pear-shaped” and “Captain Flabula,” above).

This night’s spin session was to be only 35 minutes, not the usual 45. Note to newbies here: if anyone ever says “only” in conjunction with a seemingly short time-span in relation to a spin class, run far and fast: you are in for a hellish sort of pounding, my friend. The gent in charge of said pounding was an energetic fella named Bruce who later told us giddily that he had just returned from a wild Caribbean cruise only days before. This accounts for the mood lighting (think disco with bikes), the house music and dear happy Bruce singing along into his headset, pumping his arms & going “WOO!!” like a one-man Oprah audience. I consider it a breach of etiquette to sing while people are dying; did they do karaoke at the Somme? No, they did not.

Fortunately, my entire body hurt too much for me to dismount and beat him. Which is just as well, since I learned to love him like a brother during the Core session that followed, where he made up for the pure evil of the spin session by gently and patiently  showing me how not to re-injure my arm, ribs, ankle or knee (all of which I broke, broke, broke and smashed in a bike crash last fall) while I flailed about on my little mat and got in touch with muscles that have, thus far, lain dormant within my person. It was a wee bit like yoga (“I Hate Yoga,” still to come) but not enough to send me screaming from the room. Actually, I was so out of breath that I could have neither run nor screamed. “Staggering peeping from the room” just doesn’t have the same oomph, now, does it?

Anyway, today was the last day of my one-week pass and like a trooper, there I was at the studio, bouncing and grinning like a Jack Russell, at 9:55 this morning. I’m starting to recognize some of the faces of my classmates, now that I have stopped wheezing enough to a) move my neck and look up, and b) acknowledge other sentient life forms. April the studio dog greets me when I come in. My abs (I know they’re in there somewhere) hurt a little bit and my legs protest mildly when we stand up in the saddle for the “hill climbs,” (OK, they scream blue murder but I am becoming immune to their ruckus) but other than that, I am back in business.

Although Monday will be the toughest exercise of all: I must buy myself a three-month unlimited pass. It’s Captain Flabula versus the Stingy Scot, and frankly Captain Flabula scares me more.

OK, now. Let’s start with some debit-card warmups. That’s right, open your wallet… feel the burn. Feel that endorphin rush, baby.


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