Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My First Spin Class

Spinning. Who would have thought that a simple exercise like riding a bike at a health club could be so complicated?

My heart was pounding and my forehead was sweating, and the cardio workout hadn’t even started yet. I was introduced to the vivacious and extremely fit instructor, Maria, as well as to my machine: not just any old bike, but a spinning bike. As such, there were several special fittings required: the seat height, the seat location, and the handle height. All three factors were customized so that the bend to my knee and the angle with which I sat on the ‘saddle’ (it’s not an old-fashioned bike seat anymore) were optimized for the most effective use of my leg muscles and glutes during the workout. I had been wanting to try this thing called spinning for years now, and Maria was friendly and made me feel welcome, so I relaxed a little while warming up.

Into the saddle I sat, wondering what the hype was all about. The lights were dimmed, Maria had her microphone in place, the music was started, and we were off.

I quickly learned the spin lingo; and quickly learned why this class is so much fun and yet so challenging—like my faith walk, which is a joy, but can also be challenging. Like my Father God, Maria was there with her spirit, her smile and her encouragement the entire way.

“In the saddle”: this means we are sitting down on the bike seat while pedaling as opposed to standing while pedaling. It reminds me of moving along in my faith walk where I need to put some energy into the movement but can still coast if necessary.

The “sprint”: this is when we are in the saddle but are encouraged to "spin" (pedal) faster. The music helped us with its increased tempo, and we would mentally beat anyone around us who might try to be faster than us. Like those challenges in life where things can get me down---self-doubt, fear, confusion—I can instead choose to take on the challenge by speeding ahead on the path of faith without looking to my right or left.

The “climb”: up out of the saddle we would go, and with increased tension on the gear making the pedals harder to turn, we’d stand and push our way up that mental and physical hill to get to the top. Maria’s constant comments, such as “You can do it!”, “You’re almost there!”, “I’m right there with you!”, all reminded me of the biblical encouragement I get on a regular basis, where I can always find something that relates to my life and reminds me that all my challenges are not new ones, and God helped people before me, and can help me too with those challenges.

“Take a break”: On occasion, Maria instructed us to slow down, get “in the saddle”, and get some water and towel off so we can refuel for the next cardio challenge in the workout. God often gives me a chance to refuel—a chat with a girlfriend, a special note in the mail, and smile from a stranger—these breaks happen just when I need them and in the way I need to keep on going.

“The road”: There were times when Maria would describe for us visually what the biking workout would look like as if we were on the road, for example: we’ll be coasting for a while, then riding faster up a slow incline, then climbing a hill to the top, then another small hill before we go downhill again---all these steps would remain in my mind while she orchestrated the bike movements to go along on the path described. There were other times, however, when she simply surprised us with the road’s challenges, and with her encouraging smile, Maria would remind us she was there with us and told us we could ‘do it’…whether it was to sprint faster or climb higher. I find it interesting that sometimes I have an idea of God’s plans for me, but most of the time I am surprised. What is helpful, though, is the reminder that God is right there with me even in the ‘surprises’ on my road trip, to help me get through those challenges. God shows who He is by example, and like Maria, knows what to expect in the challenges and as a result knows how to help me in those challenges.

My name: so many times during the workout, this previous stranger named Maria would become my caring guide as she said my name during the workout: “How’s it going back there, Lisa?” It was a shock to hear my name, but then again I can say I knew she was watching me whether she said so or not. God, too, is always watching over me, and sometimes mentions my name, but I am reassured to know He always loves and cares about me, personally. Even in the crowded room, I felt noticed.

Tip of the week:
Try spinning, if you haven't already! Next on my list: Zumba!


Anonymous said...

You go girl.

Anonymous said...

Lisa I have met many wonderful people in my years of teaching and I knew the moment I met you that you are very special. I am so happy that you came into my class and hope it opens the door for many more wonderful experiences. Life is precious! Thank you for touching my life. Best regards, Maria

Lisa Tomarelli said...

Maria-- thank you for your kind note! You have touched my life, too. Blessings,

Kathryn Craft said...

Let me know how that zumba thing goes--I too have been thinking about trying it.

Now you'll have to try spinning under water! At the Rodale Aquatic Center they have spinning classes with these special submergible bikes. The water adds resistance.

That said, I don't like to exercise in a seated position. I sit to much all day long--I want to get up on my feet and MOVE!