When workouts start feeling mandatory instead of relaxing, all I can say is “diversify.” Yes, sometimes I forget this myself, but I was reminded of this last week while typing for this here blog* and thinking about taking on a spin class at the local YMCA. True to my written word. I hit the gym with gusto, attending spin class three times the first week, and thus far once this week (more to come, promise!). Since spinning hasn’t been in my repertoire for quite some time (um wow, not since a few days before I left the OC two years ago!) I was hoping that hopping on a stationary bicycle was a lot like actually riding a bicycle.
The icing on the cake** was that after mentioning to a filmmaker friend of mine that I was spinning it out, he asked me to join his group of cyclers on a road ride Fourth of July (heyo, that’s today!). If I recall correctly, the last bike ride I had taken on the streets of my town and into the winding hills above was September 2010 (Labor Day, if we want to get super specific about it). Again, I had to wonder if riding a real bicycle is a like riding a stationary one.
Phew again. (Lots of exhaling this week.)
With literally back to back spin-road rides (finished spin at seven last night, started riding before seven am this morning) it was impossible not to compare the two.
So I now present Pro/Con lists on both. I feel like I should make some sort of comparison to bike riding and freedom and some sort of amendment*** but I’d really rather just make these lists and think about how much Angie likes lists.
The Pros of Spinning****
– super peppy music and a reason to fall in love with playlists again
– motivation from herd mentality/instructors
– no obstacles to beware of. The unexpected is almost impossible.
– nonstop. There is never downtime in spin class.
– mirrors! You get to check your form as often as you want…and as a former dancer-like person, I find mirrors very motivational/helpful to doing something correctly.
The Cons of Spinning
– sweat, sweat, everywhere. Like on my forearms. At one point I had tiny bubbles in a grid like fashion all over my arms and I kind of thought I looked like a game of Minesweeper in which everything was a mine.
– gas. If you’re prone to athletic flatulence, I am so sorry (trust me I feel you) but because you’re not moving around, if you release anything that doesn’t smell like roses it’s pretty obvious to those around you. My mom suggested I just pretend it’s not me.
– gadgetry. Figuring out how to best set up your bike, and how to actually add enough resistance/pump hard enough when needed can be tricky because it’s entirely up to you how hard you work.
– bad music. Get an instructor with poor taste? Why hello, 50 minutes of irritating sounds.
The Pros of Road Rides
– fresh air, views, and the open road. This liberating feeling is hard to beat, and really hard to acquire elsewhere unless you’re prone to motorized two-wheeled machines. (This not included in that category. That’s some other type of liberation.)
– conversation. Exchanging banter is inevitable. And maybe you’ll end up talking about imaginary parades.
– zen-like states. This might just be me, but one of my favorite reasons to ride is to go up huge hills that require I think of nothing but the task at hand, so that I am only in the moment and nowhere else. It’s the only place find myself absolutely clear in the head.
– new terrain, new challenges, new things to conquer. When you make it happen, you feel badass.
– coasting! In spin you never have the release of not peddling, whereas on the road you do.
Cons of Road Riding
– gadgetry. Yep, just like in spinning, only this is worse because if things are not working then everything can be a fiasco. Having tires in working order, headlights, brakes that are in good shape, etc are all required.
– potholes or other road-wear. Oh Mylanta, the dangers of bad roads are innumerable. I like to think of pothole dodging as a fun mind game in reflexes.
– cars. Drivers aren’t often watching for cyclists, so it’s up to you to be hyper-vigilant. But even the most vigilant vigilantes are not able to stop accidents.
Upon reviewing these lists, I don’t see a clear winner. Both have their ups and downs (pun intended, hill climbers!) and I felt as though I got a different workout from each of them despite them being relatively similar. So pick what you like (or what you’ve never tried) and give it a whirl.
*I love it when I manage to accidentally scoop some inspiration my own way!
**Asspanda. Are unhealthy metaphors appropriate when discussing health and fitness, or is that purely putrid form?
*** Ooo! Thanks for the freedom of speech Miss America! Or whoever decided on that…if it wasn’t some hot chic in a skimpy bathing suit I don’t want to know about it. I just like pretending it was.
****Anyone want to submit for “The Prose of Spinning”?