t he first time I took a spinning class, I thought I would die. • Worse, I felt like a wimp. • My heart raced. My legs burned. A longtime, devoted gym rat, here I was just a couple of years out of college feeling like my own Biggest Loser.
The spinning veterans made it look easy — sprinting, coming in and out of the saddle, increasing the tension on their bikes to create their own personal Tour de France. Humbled but determined, I went back. It got easier. I got stronger. Before long I became one of the veterans I had envied so much that first class.
Eight years later, I am a spinning instructor in Tallahassee, where I work in the Times' Capitol bureau. Before that I taught in Tampa at Xtreme Total Health & Fitness.
I still take spinning classes taught by others. But what I really look forward to each week is the adrenaline and fulfillment that comes from teaching others.
When my students push through the steep hills and whoop at the start of a song they like, I feel like I have helped them get closer to the stronger, fitter person they want to be.
But my initial motivation wasn't completely altruistic.
When Xtreme needed new spinning instructors a couple of years ago, my friend Conna and I signed up to get certified. We were waking up at 5 a.m. to take class anyway, we thought, so why not get paid to do it?
Plus, spinning is among the simplest fitness certifications. It's a one-day workshop, about nine hours that includes time in a classroom and on the bike. The test is online, open book.
The real test comes in front of an audience, making sure the class is challenging — yet fun enough to keep them coming back.
You're watching each student to make sure their form is correct so they don't injure themselves. You're tracking the music as you give instructions about the climbing and sprinting sequences. And you're cycling right along with the class as you do it.
I was so nervous before my first class, I nearly threw up. Now I love it. With every class I feel like I get better at helping my students get better. Plus my legs and heart and derriere keep getting stronger, more toned — bonus!
If just one person walks out of my class saying, "Thank you. That was a great workout," I have done my job.
Shannon Colavecchio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 224-7263.