A rheumatologist goes to spin class

Spin Class. For the uninitiated, this involves a dark studio in a gym, rows of stationary bikes, and a pounding beat, heavy on the volume and bass.

The instructor out at the front cajoles and drives you through spurts of speed and tests your endurance with simulated mountain climbs. Some instructors are better motivators than others. One, I remember, stretched belief a little in trying to make us feel we were part of the Tour De France.

I started this about 3 months ago. Closing in on my 5th decade of life, and with the pants feeling a little tighter, it was time to up the ante and be less hypocritical. I had started to use the gym a couple of times a week already but my workouts, in truth, were relaxingly slack, with the main aim of allowing me to unwind. I don’t think my fitness was improving much.

I’ve never particularly cared for exercise, but except it as a necessary chore. Over the last decade, I can point to the usual excuses of busy work life, young kids, and a general lack of time. But, this year, I’ve made more time for myself and exercise does get  some protected space in the diary.

Yesterday morning, I found myself in a group of about 10, spinning. The instructor was a stand-in. She told us she was over 50. Still lean, and happy to show that she was still fit.

In a class, I find that I push myself. Pride and competitiveness play some part.

It’s hard to slacken off when the couple of over-70s in front of me are putting the work in. It’s hard not to try to keep up with the slightly overweight females around me spinning in pace with the instructor. It’s hard not to go with the beat and the constant encouragement.

I still finish the class tired and my legs still feel a little rubbery the rest of the day. The mild nausea I felt with the initial classes has passed. In general, I feel good after a session.

It’s becoming a habit, this spinning. A good one.

Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist in Australia who blogs at BJC Health Connected Care.

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