The new spin studio’s posts on my neighborhood’s social media page were relentless. Each day, there was photo after photo of smiling people, happily spinning — also known as cycling on stationary bicycles — their way to health.
I thought I could ignore them. My family lovingly counseled me to ignore them. They know my history of signing up for fitness memberships with gusto. They also know this is usually followed by a dedication to my exercise program that lasts less time than it takes me to wear all the pieces of my newly purchased workout wardrobe.
However, it was one post by the soon-to-open spin studio that grabbed hold of me. It read, “When women come together with a shared intention, magic happens.” Yes, magic.
Call me gullible — or delusional — but the idea of working out with a group of women, and a few men, from my community seemed special; different than all the other gym memberships I had purchased in the past. This would be dedicated, scheduled time with a group of my neighbors happily — yes, happily — exercising together.
Sure, it helped that the classes would be held in a nightclub-like environment with lights flashing, music blasting and cyclists collectively cheering in celebration of all that was good in our lives or all that we hoped to improve. I also wasn’t going to complain that fellow riders weren’t likely to witness my sweating, struggling or silently swearing in the room’s semi-darkness, either.
Joining the spin studio was a chance to party like there’s no tomorrow — while doing something to help ensure I actually have a lot of tomorrows. It was an excuse to gather with my girlfriends, kid-free, for 45 minutes a few days a week. It was also my opportunity to get fit.
According to research, working out with others has many benefits beyond companionship. A group workout can be more fun, lead to longer workouts and a stronger commitment to a workout routine. Exercise buddies provide motivation, inspiration and a healthy dose of competition. And when workouts become too challenging, misery always loves company.
I’ll admit, I was terrified before my first class. I had visions of myself toppling off the bike, cycling shoes still clipped into the pedals, or crumbling to the floor post-spin.
I did feel pretty queasy midway through my initial spin, but I wasn’t about to be the first to quit. I rode on with my friends and was rewarded by the high-fives we gave each other at the end of class and comforted by their confessions that they were equally spent.
Since that first workout, a group of soccer moms have registered for classes before our daughters’ early morning games and I have enjoyed cycling next to my book club friends who I only ever used to see in the evenings. I even ran into a former high school acquaintance who I hadn’t seen in years and who somehow managed to recognize me in my fully drained and drenched state.
We riders love to compare notes about our favorite spin teachers and their favorite music playlists. We complain about sore bums and celebrate new muscles. We often head to our local coffeehouse in a group after class, sporting our sweat-stained tanks and flushed faces as badges of honor.
It’s more than a workout. It’s ladies’ night out (though usually occurring in the morning or afternoon), community gathering, therapy and networking rolled into one.
And, yes, I do believe — it’s magic.
Jennifer Spengler is a health and wellness writer for Sharp Health News and a marketing specialist with Sharp HealthCare.