How do you deal with challenges in life: Do you fake it or or do you rise to the occasion?
These are the questions my teacher is asking as she encourages us to push through the resistance as we bike “uphill” in spin class at City Gym in Waldo. My legs are on fire. The riders next to me look like professionals as I scramble to find a rhythm. I think I am way out of my league.
For years, I have considered the bikes at gyms my safe place. Sitting down and burning through a few miles has always come quick and easy. But I’m always looking for that new thing to try, be it ribbons or cardio barre.
City Video Cycle marries traditional spin class (which I only tried once, at least 10 years ago) with music videos. Sometimes it’s the actual music video. Sometimes it’s music accompanied by the visuals of mountains or other picturesque scenes. This is a trend that has been on the coasts for a while but is hard to find in Kansas City.
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Our teacher, gym owner Hailee Bland-Walsh, says the videos serve as motivation and a distraction from how hard the cyclists are working.
“I used to see people about 30 minutes into class starting to burn out and disengage and check the clock,” she says. “What I have learned is through music and storytelling, I get people to not focus on the pain and how hard the work is. We keep their attention. It works.”
The lights are low in the cycle studio. There’s a cool breeze and a big screen that plays Robyn, Eminem, Childish Gambino and more.
It’s a bike party. And it sounds right up my alley. But it’s not that simple. Just like other spin classes, you don’t just sit and ride with a few gear and speed changes at your leisure.
And when it comes to adjusting to a bike seat, it’s no fun for your buns, hon. No one warns you that, if you’re not a seasoned cyclist, there are a few growing pains that come with a saddle. If you decide you are serious about these kinds of classes, invest in some cycle pants. Trust me.
The class consists of sprints, climbs and a persistent challenge to give it your all. Still, Hailee leaves it up to us. She coaches us, she lays out the ride plan and yells out when it’s time to level up and level down. Sometimes we stand instead of sit. But how fast we ride, how far we up the gears? She says that’s between us and the bike.
She just asks that we don’t pretend to level up. She isn’t going to check. We need to check ourselves. If we don’t work hard, it hurts us. But she believes we can do it, and we can beat every challenge, she tells us as her cheers echo through the mic.
Every time I want to coast with little resistance and ride slow, I think about that. What does laziness accomplish? Nothing. Whether you’re working it out in the gym or working out something in life, you have to face the challenge. Lean into it and don’t run away from it. Even when it hurts.
So here I am, sweating and riding slower than the rest of the class, but I am pushing myself hard. My abs are tight. I’m sweating. My arms and legs are so heavy and hot. I want to see the clock, to know that this workout is almost over.
And then Drake and Rihanna’s “Take Care” comes on, and I can feel a wave of motivation push me up the next hill. It’s not just the song, it’s the video. The visuals do make a difference.
Between Rihanna’s super-bod and Drake’s always-charming vibe, I want to pedal right toward them. I no longer care about the time, and though my butt aches, I am entirely plugged into this class.
By the end of the hour, even on a stationary bike I feel as if I’ve come a long way. Before we begin a cool-down, we have one last rush. Hailee plays AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”
She wants us to sing along with her. A grand finale for a class full of fast machines.
Ride with City Video Cycle
City Gym, 7416 Wornall Road, is open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Membership starts at $60 a month, but day passes are $15 and first-time visitors get a free seven-day pass. For a class schedule, go to CityGymKC.com. Call 816-326-8790 for more details.