Heater, Mother of Lance

Spinning right wrong

Friday I had plans to spend about forty minutes on the elliptical trainer at the gym, something low impact and reasonable since I had really pushed it all week. But then an alien spaceship flew down from the sky, aimed a laser at my head and sucked my brain out through the top of my skull. Leaving me no option other than to join the spin class that had just started. The one being taught by General Patton.

How hard could this possibly be? It’s just a bike! I learned to ride one when I was seven. It had sparkly pink tassels hanging from the handle bars. I often rode it for minutes at a time!

Right. What? No, I hadn’t ever participated in a a spin class. Why would you ask?

My first clue that this might be a bad idea was when I noticed I was not dressed like everyone else in the room. I had on the wrong shoes. My pants did not have butt pads on the back side. Oh, and I was the only one whose legs resembled less a diagram of The Perfect Human Being and more a wet noodle.

Five minutes in and I wanted to die. Five minutes. And we hadn’t even started warming up yet. But if you haven’t yet noticed, I’m a bit of a stickler. I don’t like to start things and not finish them. Often, this is not a good personality trait. This is one of those instances.

Four sets of two minute sprints followed by another six sets of two minute sprints accompanied by a waterfall of sweat so magnificent in size that I almost drown. And then it kept going and going and going, and it stretched out into eternity. In fact, I am still on that bike.

Typing this is difficult with the sweat on my fingers.

An hour and twenty minutes later as we are all contorting our bodies to try and stretch the muscles that have caught fire, the teacher who happens to be my trainer starts laughing and shaking her head. She knows me and my personality and says to the class that she’s impressed that Heather back there made it all the way to the end, especially since she did the whole thing without butt pads! And I go, AHH KNOW! MY WEE WAW! If my groin continues to feel like it does now, NO SEX FOR ME THIS WEEKEND!




Oh dear, did I really just say that out loud? In Utah? Because two or three people almost fell off of their bikes. And not because they thought it was funny. Because the wave of AWKWARD shot through the room like a tsunami. I mean, the silence was so painful that I forgot about my groin for a few seconds. And my trainer in an attempt to Make Everything Okay goes HA HA HEATHER IS KIND OF “SPECIAL.”

And that is totally going to be my tagline for next month.

  • kacyd

    2010/05/03 at 10:12 am

    you are too funny…i can see you in the back of the class with your face all red and eyes about to fall out of your head….but no way in hell are you stopping!!!

  • KateH

    2010/05/03 at 10:15 am

    You are totally special. In all the best ways.

    But, er… from what I understand, and I know you’re totally modest, too… don’t you need butt pads more than most?

    I personally think your butt is fabulous, of course. The fact that I’ve never seen it is absolutely irrelevant. I’m very intuitive.

  • Brookelyn Bridge

    2010/05/03 at 10:26 am

    Butt pads should be standard in all clothing

  • Blahggy

    2010/05/03 at 10:32 am

    Yeah, I make it a point to steer clear of spin class. It looks all fun and games from the outside, but on the inside, as you know, it’s a crotch killer. And really damn hard.

    If I EVER get stuck in some kind of weight class where the teacher feels it’s NEAT to throw us all on the bikes for a few minutes between weight training, I will fully pretend to turn that damn knob to the right when she yells, “Turn half turn to the right!” and just start breathing harder to make it look like I’m participating right along with everyone else.

    Don’t put me on a bike if I’m not in a spin class just because you can’t think of something more exciting to do!

  • Lylium

    2010/05/03 at 10:32 am

    That is hilarious. I can’t believe nobody laughed. They were probably just holding it in.

  • bouched

    2010/05/03 at 10:34 am

    This right here is why I don’t exercise unless cheeseburger rewards are handed out at the end.

  • labradoris

    2010/05/03 at 10:35 am

    I <3 spin class. And cycling in general - I do spin classes when the weather is bad outside.

    I feel your pain though. I remember when I climbed on my first road bike. I thought my butt was going to fall off and I'd never find it again.

  • labradoris

    2010/05/03 at 10:35 am

    I <3 spin class. And cycling in general - I do spin classes when the weather is bad outside.

    I feel your pain though. I remember when I climbed on my first road bike. I thought my butt was going to fall off and I'd never find it again.

  • TexasKatie

    2010/05/03 at 10:44 am

    Yeah, totally needs to be your next masthead. “I’m Special and Don’t Wear Butt Pads”.

  • tokenblogger

    2010/05/03 at 10:48 am

    Wait — didn’t you already know you were “special?”

    I won’t do a spin class. Nope. Not me. Ever.

    I do the treadmill interval program and the bike with random hills, and then some strength training.

    I only do the bike to keep in shape for hopping on my own bike for short errands around town.

    Heather did a spin class — that’s close enough to my doing one.


  • crooked_teeth

    2010/05/03 at 10:56 am

    Heather, I know this wasn’t your intention, but you’ve inspired me to try a spin class!

  • Sister Slick

    2010/05/03 at 10:56 am

    I almost threw up after my first spin class (and without butt pads). Ha Ha!!!

    Good for you for sticking it out and speaking your mind regardless of what state you live in. 🙂

  • MJBUtah

    2010/05/03 at 10:59 am

    My co-worker and I have this idea that we are going to start going to the gym every day after work, and when I suggested maybe we try a spin class she wondered why you would take a class to ride a bike, since you already know how to ride a bike? I tried to explain.

    Maybe I will just point over here. And then explain that it was a stupid idea and apologize for suggesting it.

    and @bouched, I used to take a water aerobics class in which we rewarded ourselves for a successful class by all going out for pie afterward. It was great excercise.

  • clairekm

    2010/05/03 at 11:06 am

    Ahhhh, that pain is THE worst!!!! But, before you know it will go away and you will start to love spinning. It will make that elliptical that planned on spending 40minutes seem like such a joke. You will begin to crave the class and seriously go and get the shoes!!! It makes a world of a difference!! You know you loved that class deep down…it was hard! And sometimes no pain, no gain really is the way to go!

  • medwards

    2010/05/03 at 11:06 am

    Don’t you hate it when you just can’t stop yourself from being determined to finish something. Some of our best attributes are also our biggest weaknesses.

    I bet you crawled out of the room and down the stairs to the car.

    Have you even stood up yet? 🙂

  • LaLaBoo

    2010/05/03 at 11:08 am

    You must have an acquired taste for shoe leather, as do I. Being a liberal, non-baptist, democrat in Alabama who is also “special”; I’ve learned to love my feet, as I find them in my mouth frequently.

  • Stimey

    2010/05/03 at 11:07 am

    This is hilarious! Spin class is brutal.

    Here’s the thing, please don’t use “special” that way. Don’t take special education and special needs and use that term derogatorily. Don’t be Obama cracking jokes about the Special Olympics.

    I’m not a hater, I just know you have a huge voice and I’d hate to see it spreading mockery of our most vulnerable.

  • oneradmother

    2010/05/03 at 11:07 am

    Yeeeeaaah…Spin Class. FAIL.

    See Here:

  • bangs

    2010/05/03 at 11:15 am

    This is my first comment ever… I even signed up just to leave it…

    I took my first spin class several years ago and also had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was two days before my annual OB/GYN checkup, and when I went in, my doctor actually said “Oh my God, what happened?” and refused to do the exam because I had bruising, small tears, AND A BLISTER. I was afraid to look at the damage myself beforehand, and I guess I should have because it was horribly humiliating. A blister? Really? I have never taken another spin class.

  • Mo

    2010/05/03 at 11:15 am

    Maybe you should now get the butt pads in case you DO decide on sex any time this week?

  • JennfromCanada

    2010/05/03 at 11:17 am

    Omg! I almost burst out laughing but couldn’t ’cause I’m at work.

    My DH bought me a bike a few years ago for Mother’s Day. He thought it was something we could do together as a family. And without telling me he signed me up for a Ladies’ Night ride. Hah! It started two days after I got said bike. But I did it. I went and my butt didn’t fall off. And I’ve signed up again this year.

    But your spin class brought back memories of an aerobics class that I was forced to take back in the day before I had kids. I hated aerobics to begin with but the BF forced me to go. So I went…once. Never again. And surprisingly, neither did she.

  • paperbacks1980

    2010/05/03 at 11:28 am

    Minus ten points for spin class!!

    I tried the literally-only-fifteen-minute-long “Introduction to Spin” class several years ago. Like you, after five minutes I was sure a heart attack was imminent. I never went back. An hour-long class is unfathomable!! So go you for sticking around for the whole thing…you’re a stronger (more stubborn?) person than I. 😉

  • kcbelles

    2010/05/03 at 11:22 am

    This is why I keep coming back here; you are just too hilarious! To take a mundane thing like an exercise class and make it funny is truly a talent.

    And Stimey? Not a blast; just a comment – until I read your response, I didn’t put together “special” with any of the groups that you mentioned; I took it mean something altogether different, that the trainer was sharing with the class that Heather was somewhat of a rebel 🙂 I think folks take things too seriously these days. I’m really disliking things having to be “politically correct” all of the time. No wonder high blood pressure meds are doing gangbuster business!

  • sakura

    2010/05/03 at 11:23 am

    Ouch @bangs!

    I started going to spin classes back in March, as part of a fitness competition. I NEVER KNEW YOU NEEDED BUTT PADS! (I mean, my butt hurt, but I thought I’d just get used to it.) I took about ten classes and then conveniently started having “scheduling conflicts” so I couldn’t go anymore. Maybe if I bought butt pads, I could give it another shot?

  • mitzyjalapeno

    2010/05/03 at 11:28 am

    Oh Heather, I feel your pain. I have also signed up just to leave this comment.

    Last Tuesday, I went to the gym I just joined for the first time, and immediately did the same thing you did without thinking at all. Just like you, I thought I was going to die. I also have epilepsy, but I figured it would be ok. After all, I had my medicine, just in case there was a problem, right? Totally, completely wrong. I managed to finish the class, stepped off the bike and collapsed. I woke up 20 minutes later, after having a seizure, and I have since decided that if I get over the shame and actually go back to the gym, I won’t even look at that spin class.

    There are still bruises, because no one in the class said a word about butt pads. In fact, this is the first I’ve heard of them.

    Also, get off Heather’s back about the “special” comment. My son has autism, and is in special education. Learn how to take a joke.

  • ohyouandi

    2010/05/03 at 11:30 am

    I did a spin class. Once. About 15 minutes or so into the class, I watched my heart burst of out my chest, land on the floor, beat like crazy for 10 minutes or so, before it finally died.

    And just like you, my delicate “flower petals” got smashed to smithereens (I too had on the “wrong” clothes!) and sitting was painful for a few days.

    Never again did I take a spin class.

  • Peanut22

    2010/05/03 at 11:30 am

    So funny! My husband took his first spinning class last week because he was talked into it by his friend (the gym trainer). He said he almost died and he’s in excellent shape….I can’t imagine what would happen to me.

    So glad you made it through and brought us a funny story!

  • Crazy Card Lady

    2010/05/03 at 11:31 am

    The whole time I was reading I was thinking to myself “I wonder if Heather knew she could adjust the tension on the bike?” Spinning is certainly a great workout. It can be as easy or as hard as you would like it. I own a spinning bike, but have never needed special pants. The workout comes with using your legs which kind of keeps your pelvis off the seat. If you’re grinding your pelvis into the seat, then something is definitely adjusted incorrectly. Heather, it will be easier the next time!

  • Janice

    2010/05/03 at 11:37 am

    Five minutes into my first spin class I asked for a SAG wagon (on a street ride it’s the minivan that picks you up when you are too tired to go on) and the instructor laughed and said in this class we call the SAG wagon an AMBULANCE! Is that what you need? I put my head down in shame and said NO! and under my breath…not for another thirty seconds or so.

  • Pearl Berries

    2010/05/03 at 11:38 am

    God bless you, Heather, for saying “wee waw”! That will take me galloping through this week on the horse of humor! I will remember my butt pads, though 😉

  • JenMarie

    2010/05/03 at 11:41 am

    An hour and twenty minutes? Are they crazy!? The one at my gym is 45 minutes and I can barely make it through that. I feel your pain. I just started the spinning classes a couple months ago and five minutes into the first class I thought my body was going to give in. Such a great workout though! I am a little like you in that I have to finish things. HAVE TO! I also feel the need to push myself or the guilt afterwards is unbareable. Hence the reason why I almost passed out (literally)when I went to a different night of spinning with a different teacher. This one doesn’t believe in “recovery time”. I went home so annoyed that I couldn’t push myself any further that I haven’t been back to that class. Just went back to my old one.

  • verbalicon

    2010/05/03 at 11:43 am

    Gosh, I love spinning. Love love love with a big L it.

    And no, you don’t need special pants, unless you feel like you don’t have enough (ahem) “padding” back there. Which, for me? No problem. You also don’t need special shoes because all spin bikes have straps for regular sneakers.

    First thing to do, though: Make sure the spinning bike conforms to your body’s needs–with most, you can adjust the distance of the saddle from the handlebars, the height of the handlebars, the saddle height, etc. The littel wheel/ knob in the middle, underneath the handlebars is to regulate the tension. Turning it clockwise increases the tension and makes pedalling harder; turning it counterclockwise releases the tension and makes things easier (and your legs faster for sprinting).

    Have fun the next time around!

  • jerseygirl77

    2010/05/03 at 11:46 am

    I am a spin instructor and almost no one in my classes wear butt pads. Maybe we all have crotches of steel? It’s true the first few classes tend to cause, ahem, saddle soreness. But it goes away, I swear it does. My general advice to first-time spinners is this: 1) just keep pedaling, even if you don’t ever touch the resistance or follow the instructor’s lead; and b) try it 3-4 times before you decide if you like it or not.

    I’m bummed that all these haters are trash talking spin. It burns 500 calories an hour! I have people in their 50s, 60s, even 70s that take my classes! C’mon people, this is why America is fat… Anything that causes the slightest amount of discomfort is disdained! (Um, except for the lady with blisters on her hoo-ha. Ouch. I’m sorry that happened to you- It may be due in part to an improperly adjusted seat– which is the INSTRUCTOR’S FAULT, not yours. A good instructor will show a newbie how to properly set up a bike for safety and comfort.)

    Heather, I encourage you to try again!

  • arishell

    2010/05/03 at 11:52 am

    @JennfromCanada: I did burst out laughing and scared the dog.
    Thanks for the laughs.

  • BargainBex

    2010/05/03 at 12:07 pm

    If I were a member of that spinning class (which is impossible given my definition of exercise being to use your fingers to either type or press remote control buttons) but if I were, I’d be the awkward girl filling said silence with snorts of laughter (hey, when something’s funny, I tend to sound like a giddy little piggy) hence taking the attention off you and making it painfully apparent that I am “inappropriate” and “special” too.

  • Dazee Dreamer

    2010/05/03 at 12:12 pm

    I was laughing so hard here at work, they wondered what was up with me. The only reason that people here in Utah wouldn’t laugh, is because you are only supposed to say SEX in the privacy of your own home. And only if their husband allows them to say or do it. 🙂 Thanks for being a real person in Utah.

  • marialoo

    2010/05/03 at 12:21 pm

    I used to teach Spin before baby came along. Yeah, the first class is hard, but if you get through the first…well, maybe fifth or sixth…class and keep at it regularly, it’s an awesome workout. I never used the special pants with the padded butts, but I did get bike shoes with cleats. That makes the standing portions much easier.

  • phogrrl

    2010/05/03 at 12:38 pm

    I, too, took my first spinning class last week! No butt pads or special shoes, here, either. That shit is HARD. I thought I was in pretty good shape but sprints and standing up kicked my ass! Well, it kicked my cardiovascular system, and my ass came out miraculously unscathed, perhaps due to the riding of an actual bike that I do, sometimes. The really funny part is that I was taking the class as a favor to the instructor so I can sub for her next month! hahahahahahaha! There is no way in hell I’m gonna be ready for that. Everyone assures me that the first time is the worst, it only gets easier. (where have I heard that before…)

  • lizneilvoss

    2010/05/03 at 12:38 pm

    What a coincidence! I was just thinking to myself during my spin class yesterday that the instructor kind of looked like you! If I weren’t in Illinois and she hadn’t lacked any semblance of a Southern accent, I would have called her Heather.

    I agree that your spin class is crazier than most. Mine are 45 minutes, also; an hour plus seems ridiculous! Also, I used a gel seat the first couple of classes, but after that, your body gets used to the seat and your legs support you better, so it’s not so bad. Plus, I think the gel seat makes you (read: me) feel like you’re going to slide right off, which isn’t very encouraging!

    I would try it again before you decide that spinning’s definitely not for you 🙂

  • bethmann15

    2010/05/03 at 12:49 pm

    Heather! Did you not learn your lesson with the snowboarding butt fracture? I hope you didn’t fracture your wee waw too!

  • SherpaTat

    2010/05/03 at 1:01 pm

    The first time I tried a spin class it was so hard that I pretended that my contact lens fell out so that I could leave. (I do not wear contacts!)
    But it was so much harder than any other cardio I do on my own that I kept at it. Now I go 3-4 times a week. And eat whatever I want.

  • tallnoe

    2010/05/03 at 1:18 pm

    I used to laugh and point at people who did spin class.

    And then I became one of them. I like spin, but only if the music and the instructor rock. Otherwise, the instructor can shove it.

    One of the instructors at the gym I go to is a motivational speaker – um, she is not helpful. The one that rocks talks about cookies and cakes and has awesome music.

    Apparently I work out so I can eat.


  • araggio

    2010/05/03 at 1:19 pm

    In this South we call it “touched.” 🙂

  • peashelle

    2010/05/03 at 1:20 pm

    I would just like to know what type of stone the seats are made of.

  • cateyb

    2010/05/03 at 1:24 pm

    Were they more offended by “wee waw” or s. e. x. ?!?
    The chances of me taking a spinning class were slim to none to begin with but thanks for the warning. And thanks for making me giggle on a Monday.

  • denice

    2010/05/03 at 1:25 pm

    i do not like to quit either. especially when it comes to fitness activities because i consider myself fit, strong and capable.

    having said that, i walked out on my first ever spin class many years ago because i knew instantly that i could not do it. could not. no chance. and i walked out. i wanted to stop everyone and offer some viable excuse but didn’t. i just let them think whatever they were thinking.

    but i prefer to suppose that they thought i was just TOO good for the class. that’s what i’ve always told myself when that memory surfaces.

  • Petra

    2010/05/03 at 1:26 pm

    That was awesome! Sorry to laugh at your pain, but that was hysterical. And poor poor Bangs. I feel for you girl, but I’m afraid I broke into hysterics at your comment 🙂 I did the Aids ride from San Francisco to LA a few years ago. The training gave me blisters. But perhaps more disturbing, I adjusted by developing caluses on my ass! Seriously not attractive. Anyway, I LOVE spin class. It’s the best workout ever. Sure I feel like I’m going to faint and/or vomit at least once per class, but I love the way I feel at the end. And it will take those noodle legs and whip them right into shape. The key is to find a great teacher who has great taste in music. Don’t give up. I promise spin class will not give you caluses, only awesome legs.

  • shy

    2010/05/03 at 1:38 pm

    p90x! 🙂 i’m telling you, heather, you will love it!

  • ninesandquines

    2010/05/03 at 1:46 pm

    i’ve been in ONE spin class….one. never ever EVAH again!

  • simpliSAHM

    2010/05/03 at 1:48 pm

    Now I have some a little more knowledge as to what on earth a “spin class” is. I never got it before, not quite understanding how there could actually be a class wherein someone watches you ride a bicycle. But then again I guess there are classes for even stranger things than that!

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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