Classes can be quite intimidating. For me, they remind me of P.E. lessons at school – to which I was awful at. I was that kid who got picked last during any sport lesson. Yeah, that ol’ sob story.
It wasn’t because I was unpopular; I just sucked so much at sport and exercise while I was at school. I used to have a real dread about going to those lessons where, I actually used to bunk off and hide from my teachers or fake notes from my Mum. My teachers weren’t stupid, they actually just decided to ‘let-that-happen’ until I got to the year when I could pick any lesson but P.E. Funny that now I try weird and wonderful fitness classes for Gay Times.
After speaking to a lot of people, it seems the exercise intimidation stays with many of us after our time at school. I started thinking while at college that I needed to start getting in shape, as I was influenced so heavily by the male image around me in advertising, other guys my age around me that I taught myself how to get in some kind of shape. I started weight training on off for the next billion years and only recently I started attending – classes.
That P.E. dread? The nervous tummy? It’s back. As an adult it’s a very silly and different. I’ve had nerves as an adult sure, like being on a first date or presenting work in front of more than a few people but pre-P.E. class nerves are a bit different. You literally think you’re going to die, and this is it. “Oh, God, what if I die in this class”.
Recently, I’ve tried circuits on a Farm and City Strong Man training down at The Foundry in Vauxhall. I loved them. I felt they played to some of my strengths but then a few female friends of mine turned to me one evening and uttered, almost in slow-mo and with the voice of Satan coursing through them – “Hey, Chris. Have you ever tried…Spin?”
OH GOD, I AM GOING TO DIE.
The nearest Spin class was in Holborn, at a place called Boom Cycle. We book through their site and take advantage of their introductory deal (which is £29.00 for three…spins?!). We book in a selection of classes between two instructors, Jack and Haydn. They are both beautiful, so you know, not intimidating in the slightest.
Boom Cycle is one of those boutique studio type places. Somewhere that you think maybe too good for you, if you know what I mean. But upon entering I was met by a chirpy receptionist and our first instructor, Jack. Jack is basically, Mr Muscle. And beautiful. So, handy for staring at for thirty minutes during my first class. I was more surprised by his size than anything. I was under the impression that spinning was for really super skinny guys but here was a Men’s Health cover model strapping me into the bike for my first ‘ride’.
I was still nervous, as Jack helped me adjust the bike for my body height before helping the other people in the class. There was a handful of us, so he gave everyone attention before he jumped on his bike. The music started, and Jack started to get everyone in the frame of mind – which is being PUMPED. So spin basically creates the most positive and healthy looking people ever, it seems. And do you know what? After the first few minutes of thinking “when will I die during this?” I started to really like it. The way the Spin bikes are designed is that your momentum from the first rotation aides you in your next one, so it feels at first as if you’re not doing anything until you turn up some of the resistance – and your feet are magnetically attached to the pedals as you don’t take your own shoes, so you’re locked in and forced to move!
“I will put my hands up and say, I’ve never produced so much sweat from a workout.”
Jack’s session was thirty minutes and was a rollercoaster of a HIIT workout – and it went so quickly. I didn’t really have time to notice how much my thighs were burning, or how my weak core couldn’t allow me to keep up with Jack’s pace (yes, he throws some choreography into the mix) but staring at his biceps and thighs really gets you through it. I will put my hands up and say, I’ve never produced so much sweat from a workout.
Speaking to Jack afterwards, he mentioned the endorphin rush from spin is different to one from weight lighting. “You feel great”, and I don’t know if I had entered the cult, but I did. I felt so amazing after my session. I am not a cardio person, but I wasn’t out of breath, yet I was covered in sweat and I felt so incredible. My legs felt the size of tree trunks and Jack mentioned also that he finds it a “great addition to weight training”, and that spin can help maintain muscle gains. “Men of any size, if you want to shift weight, add muscle. You can do it here.”
I loved how positive I felt after my session, and with a free shake after your ride it’s safe to say that I am a total convert. It’s a good addition for cardio haters like me, to schedule in a class alongside my existing routine.
This article was originally printed in Gay Times magazine.