Trends come and go in numerous aspects of our world. Fashion renews itself with every season. Hashtags gain — and lose — popularity faster than the latest YouTube video. Trends should be analyzed because they reveal important aspects of our modern society (Kardashians aside — it’s best if we just leave that fascination alone).
The latest fads and styles have the potential to become yesterday’s trash or tomorrow’s standard. And in a city such as Los Angeles, rife with constantly shifting trends and plenty of culture, there is so much to learn.
Which brings us to the trending subject at hand: Indoor cycling classes. Exercise is necessary, if you’re into being healthy and sh-t like that, but often it is quite a pain to fit into busy schedules. Let’s be real; a trip to In-n-Out after a long day at work or school grants instant gratification, compared to a workout that requires, well, more work.
On the other hand, food doesn’t provide our bodies with the endorphins we crave. This is the allure of finding the right exercise that fits you specifically. And what better time to get back on that exercise grind than when school is starting? A return to school means having to look presentable every day, since you never know who you’ll run into on campus or sit next to in class.
Indoor cycling classes have been around for years, but lately they are making a fast and furious comeback. As is the case with so many trends, their popularity is on the rise after a period of being on the backburner. Naturally, USC students have caught on to this resurfacing workout quicker than Lance Armstrong rolling down a hill.
Commonly referred to as spin classes, indoor cycling courses are essentially Jazzercise on a stationary bike. You’re placed in a room full of mirrors (all the better to admire your sweaty self — because you will sweat, a lot) and at least 20 other riders that will probably be in better shape than you (all the better to motivate you when you’re exhausted after 10 minutes).
The idea is that for 45 minutes to an hour, you will be pedaling a bike at various speeds while listening to the instructor’s choice of music and performing certain exercise maneuvers. Your feet are strapped to the pedals to ensure maximum control and the music is fast-paced and upbeat so that you feel energized. Easy enough, right?
That’s what I thought before- taking both a regular spin class and a SoulCycle class. Then again, before these experiences I also thought that a spin class meant sitting in front of a pottery wheel à la the movie Ghost. Though I survived both of my classes without Patrick Swayze’s guiding hands, the path was not easy.
One of my closest friends, Bridget, has now been an indoor cycling instructor for eight months. She teaches at the Downtown L.A. YAS Fitness Center, which offers athletic yoga and indoor cycling classes. Since running is basically the only exercise I can ever force myself to do, I figured a spin class would be fairly easy because of its dependence upon leg strength.
I was partially right. Though keeping in constant motion wasn’t necessarily difficult, the coordination requirement caught me off guard. Spin classes involve a series of up-down, side-to-side, left-right movements atop a bike while maintaining proper form. When your bike is at a low resistance gradient that imitates going downhill, try bouncing up and down without shaking your a– like Miley Cyrus attempting to twerk. The riders behind me definitely got an eyeful.
Needless to say, I required lots of special attention from Bridget so as not to overwhelm myself and the poor bike I was riding.
After my first foray into the world of indoor cycling, I thought I was prepared for the SoulCycle experience. Located in West Hollywood, Brentwood and Santa Monica, I had heard friends mention that these spin classes were rejuvenating and, strangely, conducted without the lights on.
Once I was shown around the premises, handed a towel and strapped onto my bike by one of the helpful employees (who even gave me a free water bottle after I foolishly forgot to bring one), I was ready. The lights were, in fact, turned off, leaving the room only to be lit by a few electric candles. Our instructor, David, led the class with spirit and contagious enthusiasm. He let everyone go at their own pace, while also encouraging them to push themselves to their limits. The studio was, as he put it, our “sweaty, dance music, cycle sanctuary.”
By the halfway mark of class, it already felt like I had gone swimming in a pool of my own sweat. My muscles were incinerated and my water bottle was nearly empty. The movements I had struggled with during my first spin class still confused my clumsy body, but the darkness helped me feel secure enough to swerve like an idiot and not care.
But, strangely enough, I loved every minute of it. My mind was clear and in focus and my body, though exhausted beyond belief, felt energized.
Just like Bridget had done during that first session, David talked to us throughout the class. He gave us instructions, encouraged us and reminded us that we were a community. That’s the beauty of a spin class and, I suppose, the reason that these classses are a trend that has stuck around: Indoor cycling classes are simultaneously an individual and a group effort.
The inspiration to push further must be found on your own, from a personal motivation; but the rhythm and strength of the class are palpable effects of being around others pedaling toward the same finish line. Spin classes satisfy the basic human need to connect with others during times of stress.
My legs were certainly still shaking half an hour later, but I felt fulfilled after each class, physically and mentally. Also, I bet my butt looked great.
Nick Cimarusti is a senior majoring in English and Spanish.
Follow him on Twitter @NickCimarusti