The instructor was drill sergeant. Her classes were filled with creepy death-metal-electronica fusion music alongside the Gwen Stefani. She screamed in our faces and turned up the resistance knobs repeatedly without asking us if this was okay, and then nodded in stern approval as our knees made horrible crunching noises and our faces locked in a twisted grimace. It was so not my style. But my co-worker was right. Afternoon spin class set me on a road to physical fitness that I haven't turned back from since.
I haven't belonged to a proper gym in years, but that doesn't stop me from occasionally returning to afternoon spin class. These days, I pull out the road bike, tune into motivating pop music like The Naked and Famous, and set on a steady beat toward Monte Bello Road. After a 3.5-mile warm-up, I charge full-bore into the climb as my heart rate shoots to 180. I have five miles to ascend to 2,500 feet. I hit the steep pitches hard, relax on the short descents, and try to tap a little spin class magic by setting my iPod on repeat (I just stand still but it keeps on coming, and I just stop moving but it keeps on coming, it keeps on coming so I start running) The goal is to get to the top before minute 55. My all-time best is 50:21. Someday I'll cut it below 50. I just keep on chipping away at it, still reaching for that ever-elusive best shape of my life.
But the best part about afternoon spin class: The 2,500-foot cool-down. It's a long way down.