The Case of the Spinning Smiter: Chapter 3

I have an important announcement to make: I have lost 3 pounds. How, you ask, is this possible after just 10 days of spinning? Well, my secret is this: I cut my hair off.

I am not making this up.

The story goes like this: one of the things bestowed on me by my Scottish genetic makeup, along with the bone structure & musculature of a plow-horse, is curly hair. When I was a child this was a feature that earned me ceaseless cheek-pinches from little old ladies cooing about Shirley Temple, and caused my mother no end of bitter anguish during her intermittent attempts to wash or brush it. Finally in desperation she cut it all off, with the result that I spent the rest of my childhood being addressed as “young man.”

In my twenties, tired of being called “sir” and given funny looks when shopping for, say, tampons, I grabbed the bull by the horns & grew my hair out again. Typically, I gave it my all and after several years my hair was down to my waist. I looked like Loreena McKennitt, which was actually a plus as I was playing the harp in a Celtic band around this time. (I am not making that up, either.)

Eventually the novelty of carrying 17 pounds of lively foliage on my scalp wore off, and I had it cut off again. My decision was also due to the fact that I was starting to do a lot of sports and washing my hair twice a day had all the charm of trying to launder a sheep. The shock to my system – specifically my scalp and my neck – after this initial shearing was such that my head, minus the weight of my hair, snapped abruptly forward as though an elastic band had broken and I connected rather suddenly with the wall of the salon.

Anyway, like many females, my hair has gone up & down in length over the last 15 years or so, as circumstances and vanity (and haircutting funds) have warranted. It was very short during my marathon-running years, but over the last couple of years it had grown out again to the point where I was once again in possession of a fine, enviable head-full of ringlets.

Alas, over the last 10 days or so I quickly discovered that “ringlets” and “spinning class” are mutually exclusive terms. Despite liberal applications of what the salon world calls “product” and I call “goop,” I would watch in horror, in the cruelly placed classroom mirrors, as my hair slowly but surely rose like bread dough over the duration of the class and acquired a life of its own. Not to put too fine a point on it, by the end of class I looked like a cross between a Chia Pet and a hobbit. It’s not for nothing that one of my nicknames is “Frodo.”

(Aside: am I the only person in the civilized world who can’t make head or tail of “The Lord of the Rings”? Seriously, how can anyone be expected to follow an epic production in which major plot twists are announced by identical-looking old men who suddenly turn away from the camera and mumble into their beards? “And now, Smorgon, I tell you that the… [rustle] mphhghhhgnnn mm ggpnmmm bbmnmph!” And suddenly there are a bunch of Cate Blanchett clones fighting each other with bamboo poles while eagle-riding dwarves scream past like CF-18s. What the HELL??)

Anyway, Wednesday was the last straw as far as my hair was concerned. I marched into my hairdresser’s, said “take it all off!” and she stripped to the… no, wait, that’s another story. I mean, out came the clippers and I am now short and spiky once again. Feels like a million bucks.

As does the fact that I really have lost three pounds. As far as I can determine, a normal person would have to make a Herculean effort NOT to lose weight on a steady regime of spin classes. Not only are most of the people in the classes frighteningly buff and toned (a group which will shortly include Yours Truly, god willing), but the instructors themselves are invariably so tiny that they make figure skaters look like sumo wrestlers. Seriously, these are people who probably never enter buildings by the front door but rather just post themselves through the mail slot. They are miniscule. I could bench-press the lot of them with one arm, like a bundle of baby bananas.

So, anyway, back to the point of my update: being a sucker for punishment (and also wanting to show off my spiffy new ‘do) I presented myself last night for a second go-round of spin/core combination class with Bruce, the sing-along instructor who pushed me toward cardiac arrest late last week (see Chapter 1 of the Spinning Smiter series). It had also been a hell of a day at work, and I figured there really was no better way to forget about my troubles than to teeter on the brink of full-out cardiovascular collapse.

I was not disappointed; again, it was 35 minutes of pure physical hell as Bruce cajoled, bullied, encouraged and serenaded us at top volume through what in real life would probably be a flat-out race up the side of Mount St. Helen’s on penny-farthing cycles, chased by men with axes. There was a brief moment of delight on my part as I realized one of his workout tunes is a souped-up version of the X-Files theme – I was a huge fan back in the day – but my euphoria was punctured rudely by the very real fear that my tendons were hanging out of my legs like tinsel.

There was a brief cool-down afterward, during which we lay en masse on the spinning-room floor and called weakly for our mothers, and then we dragged our broken bodies into the next room for 30 minutes of core/Pilates exercises. The selling point for Pilates is, as I’ve said, the “totally freakin’ ripped” look I referred to in an earlier post, but in actual fact the strongest selling point for me now is that the exercises require you to lie down. We looked like an artfully arranged herd of sea lions, if sea lions possessed trendy water bottles and colourful workout toys.

At any rate, a good evening was had by all. I’m starting to regain some of the fitness I’ve lost over the last year (they don’t park the defibrillator beside me any more), and as I said, I really have lost three pounds, even if one of those pounds was hair. I even caught a glimmer of muscle here and there on my person last night as I suited up and laced my shoes.

And best of all, my hair looked fabulous. Just call me “Sir.”

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