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Spin Class

When I arrive at the gym, I feel satisfied with the achievement. That was the deal, right? Go to the gym. Any work I do after that point is pretty much gravy.

Mmm. Gravy.

You can always tell the regulars from those of us undoing 10 years of beer and pizza. The square-headed men grow so big that they can't even bend their own elbows.

"Hey, Bob. Do me a favor -- scratch this itch on my chin."

The ladies spend more time with the Stairmasters. If I owned a gym, I would just build it on top of a really steep hill, and by the time people reached the door from the parking lot below, their workout would be over. Think of the savings!

Recently, I followed a flock of women into spin class, which I had always avoided for two reasons: 1. questions have already been raised about my masculinity, and 2. it seemed tedious as all get-outa-here. I mean, maybe if they were performing some function like churning butter or generating electricity...

Being a macho manly man, I decided to try anyway. This was, after all, the same activity that I mastered at age six on my Big Wheel.

The regulars were all smiles, helping me with the knobs. Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. One woman was indecently thin, as in management might intervene.

"We're sorry, Kitty, but you've become entirely too skinny. We're going to have to cut you off."

I want a thin physique, just not as much as I want desert. Had I been Gandhi, I would have tried a different tack altogether -- to eat and eat until the British moved out or I finally exploded.

Our spin instructor gamboled into the room cuckoo for Coco Puffs.

"Hi, everyone. I'm Sherry, your instructor. Ready to work?"

I had just gotten off work. So it goes.

Sherry had the body of a carrot stick. She smiled with those wild eyes a skydiver gets at 10,000 feet. Red alert, red alert: Adrenaline Junky.

Sherry mounted her bike, dimmed the lights to "Italian Restaurant," and played a jazzy warm-up song.

"Quiet hips, smooth circles," she said, check-check-checking her microphone.

It was all a furry dream until Sherry introduced something called "resistance." That is when you, with your own free will, tighten the flywheel to IMPEDE YOUR OWN PROGRESS. It was like Jesus carrying the cross or employees lugging their own folding chairs to a company meeting.

Jazz turned into Limp Bizkit, the windows fogged up, and visiting time was over.

"Give me another quarter-turn," said Sherry.

Big Wheels don't really prep you for spin class. You'd be surprised at how hard it is to keep your heels down, eyes forward, spine erect, grip light, abs contracted.

If you ever wonder about the correct way to do an exercise, the answer is: whatever hurts most. When your muscles cry out in a voice of their own, you've got it!

"You should be feeling fabulous," said Sherry, and by that she meant so unbearably hot that you might spontaneously combust or turn into Richard Simmons.

"Gimme another quarter turn. Just when you think you can't ... YOU CAN!"

Sherry knew better than to say things like "speed up" or "stay with us, Mr. Y-Chromosome." Instead, she used terms like "overcome resistance" (if she only knew).

Sherry cranked up the next song, "We Didn't Start the Fire," and one of the women whooped. I myself didn't have the breath to whoop. My resources were occupied with functions that had been autonomic since birth. I had never hated Billy Joel so much in my life.

Eventually, though, my spirit broke. I fused with Sherry's skydiver eyes because they were all I had. I wanted to be like her. A carrot stick. I had fallen in love with my captor.

Then Sherry, fickle hellcat, played the cruelest hoax of all -- the phony countdown: "Five ... four ... three ... six ... five ..."

I could have killed her or hugged her or cried. And finally, a quarter-turn within my life, the music died away and the journey was over.

One of the ladies congratulated me for staying upright...ish. I laughed. They laughed. Sherry laughed. We had been through something together. We had worked through childhood issues, near-death experiences, anger toward Billy Joel.

I don't know about returning to spin class, but I will definitely give more room to cyclists and, if I ever see a hamster in a trance, jump in immediately.

For the time being, though, I think I'll just stick to my Big Wheel.


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