During the first spinning craze in the mid-nineties, I did two classes a week at Northwestern's campus gym. Our instructor was Viola, a butt-kicking Michelle Obama lookalike who, when she wasn't shouting instructions at us, said the words "come on" where there should have been spaces in her sentences. As in, "come on, come on, okay, add some tension, we're going up a hill, come on, come on..." I loved those classes - not only because I found Viola oddly enjoyable but because it was the only fitness activity I did that tapped into my fast-twitch muscles and made me sweat as much as running did.
When I moved to Champaign I left Viola and spinning behind, and, among other things, became a more serious runner. No fast-twitch there. Fast-forward ten years or so. Taking advantage of an end-of-the-year special, I decided a few weeks ago to join Middleagedperson's Center, a local gym/spa/personal training/therapy/"whole life" center. It's near our house, which is handy. It's small, but you never have to wait for a machine or weights. And I'm more likely to run into colleagues than students, which I much prefer.
And hurray! Middleagedperson's Center offers spinning, which apparently everybody calls "core cycling" now. Attending my first class a week ago, I wondered what else would be different. Turns out not much. Same exact people I used to see all those years ago. This morning during class I mentally catalogued them all:
Princess and the Pea: Persnickety woman who leaps off her bike five or six times in the first ten minutes of class to adjust and readjust the seat height or complain about minute differences between the pedals on different bikes.
Needy Nellie. A regular who demands frequent praise from the instructor, calling out, "Did you SEE how much tension I had on that hill? I didn't used to be able to do that, remember?"
The Newcomer Welcomer. Regular who takes it upon herself to indoctrinate newcomers to class. Demands to know your name, explains obvious things as if you didn't know them, and then states loudly her preferences for instructors.
Competer. Looks around at everyone else to see how much tension they have on. Sometimes there are Competer Couples, who come to class together and harass one another about not working hard enough.
Slacker-Complainer. Loudly complains about hills, sprinting, and anything hard, while in reality cycling at the same easy pace for the whole class.
Dangerously Unstable, Overextending-Himself Guy. Jacks up the tension so hard that the wheel doesn't move at all, and then sprints with so little tension that his legs flop all over and you worry his ankles will snap off and leave his feet swinging in the pedals all on their own.
I also learned the music hasn't changed much, either. Madonna's "Ray of Light" is still the best spinning/cycling song ever.