Stacey Margaret Jones: New to Spin Class -Trial by Sweat


About 10 minutes into the ZenCycle class at ZenStudio Fitness Boutique, I looked around the dark, disco-lit room at all the standing and pedaling spinners and thought, “I know they must be fit, if they come to this class regularly, but, seriously, how can they all stand up the whole time, and I can’t stand up for more than a minute? I’m a marathoner, for crying out loud! What the…”

And then I quit thinking because I was too exhausted to finish my thought.

If you haven’t ever been to a spin class, you may have such a moment to look forward to the first time you try the fitness craze, especially if you’re in one of Camden’s classes at ZenStudio (Heights and Promenade area). But watch me, figuratively, and learn.

Because I was doing it wrong.

Camden Hyneman, owner of the fitness studio, coordinated with my friend Erin Hohnbaum, owner of E. Leigh’s boutiques, so that I could take my first-ever spin class for this column. I messed up right away by going to the wrong location, which meant after flying low across Little Rock from the Heights to the studio on Rahling Road, I was late to the class, which had already begun. Camden was a great sport and had started her participants rolling while she got me set up with shoes and fitted me to my bike. I clipped in and tried to catch up.

She gave me a quick orientation, saying that the tighter the tension on the bike, the more stabilizing it would be for me as I worked through the routines. She jumped on her bike on the central stage area and dimmed the lights. Erin’s pink top glowed orange as did anything neon in the room. I was grateful for my black athletic top because it allowed me to disappear while pedaling and observing. (If you want to try a class here without standing out, wear dark colors and get a cycle in the back.) 

The club music was fast and furious, and Camden yelled out the “ONE-TWOs” at the speed our feet should be pedaling down. Being clipped in to the bike was familiar enough to me from my road-biking experience, but I did a lot of playing with the tension on the cycle to make sure I felt in control. I wanted to get the most out of the workout and also be able to complete it.

And then the standing thing happened. Now, I don’t stand on my road bike whilst pedaling. Ever. I’m too afraid to fall, so I was not used to how this might feel. And the first few times I tried, I could not believe how intense it was. I could not keep it going, while everyone around me was doing perfectly fine with the choreography of the class.

That’s right: Choreography. Before I left, I told my husband I was trying out a spin class, and he said, “What IS that?” It’s possible he thought we were literally spinning around in a room or something. I told him it just means stationary cycling.

“But the teacher tells you what to do. They tell you stuff, and then you have to do it.” This is the sum total of my knowledge of spin before I arrived, got clipped in and told to ONE TWO and much more.

We did semi-push ups, moved from seated to standing on the beat, held the bike’s handles at different points to intensify the workout and were given other upper-body commands. But that standing thing still challenged me until I realized I wasn’t standing far enough forward. I was essentially trying to pedal to the beat in a squat. Try it. You won’t like it.

Once I stood up correctly, I was golden. It was a tough workout, no question, but I could work out to the challenges Camden set throughout the class. Some of the upper body choreography will take me longer to manage just because I need more time to get used to the whole cycle apparatus.

Camden also incorporated isometric movements in one or two songs with 1- or 2-pound weights. (I know enough from barre classes to insist on 1-pound weights when someone gives you that choice. It means pain is coming, so go light!) After the cooling down cycling song, we got off our bikes and stretched. Finally, there was a soothing aromatherapy waft of lavender throughout the room.

Camden describes the class as “sensory overload,” and I’d agree, as the loud beats, the choreography directions, the black lights and the cycle itself, were a little overwhelming to me, but not in a bad way, just as a new experience.

Since this was my first exposure to spin, I asked my friend Erin, who invited me to the class to tell me more about it from her perspective as a devotee. She’s been taking classes at ZenStudio since September 2013, and while she sticks mostly to ZenCycle classes, she also likes the HiitCycle and the BarreAmped classes offered.

“I was pretty intimidated to start,” Erin said, “because I was so out of shape!” But during her first class, her anxiety ebbed away, much as mine did. She attributes this to the “team spirit” in the classes that make them addictive. All of the instructors are friendly and approachable, she said, and  “everyone’s in the same boat.”

What she most likes about the classes is what she calls the “positive self-talk.” “I’m constantly having to give myself internal pep talks to keep going, so I feel mentally stronger when I leave.” (Clearly, she didn’t give herself the “You’re a marathoner, dang it!” shame cycle talk I was engaging in during my first session.)

In addition to the psychological benefits, Erin said she has noticed increased physical endurance.

“Also,” she said, “It has done wonders for my backside!”

Would you like to let Erin talk you into a ZenCycle class at ZenStudio? Here’s what she’d tell you:

  • It not only makes you physically strong, but mentally stronger, too.
  • I have a hard time getting into fitness routines, but ZenCycle always keeps it fresh.
  • Every class and instructor is different. There really is something for everyone.

If you do decide to try it, Erin has pointers for newbies:

  • Come prepared to sweat, not just your first class, but for every class.
  • You’ll need LOTS of water.
  • Women need to wear a great sports bra, a breathable top and fitted workout pants/crops.
  • Socks are a must!
  • Go easy on yourself your first class.
  • Start with the 1-pound weights. (I told you that, too.)
  • You aren’t going to be a pro from day one, and every ZenSpinner was new at one time or another.
  • Just have fun!

If Erin has convinced you, ZenStudio has a great one-week-free classes deal for new customers. Contact the studio directly for more information.

ZenCycle spin class in post

“I didn’t die. Here’s proof of life.” – Stacey Margaret Jones


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