Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spin v Doctor

My dentist was recently advising me on a tooth situation. What I’d thought was a simple popcorn hull stuck under my gum turned out to be something more serious. How serious, he wasn’t yet sure. So I made him lay out every possibility and speak at length about the potential pain and discomfort associated with each scenario. When I ask doctors to indulge me in this type of speculation, it’s always because I believe the information will make me feel better. It rarely ever does.

Root canal sat midpoint in the spectrum of possibilities. Simply hearing that phrase leaves me in a cold sweat.

“It won’t be as bad as a spin class,” Doctor G said to me.

“Excuse me?”

“Those spin classes you take. If you can get through an hour of that, the root canal will be a breeze.” This got my attention – the guy used to run marathons.

I’m not even sure how my dentist knows I’ve started taking spin classes. But I’ll tell you this: it’s quite possible that he’s right.

I started spin classes about five months ago. It took me over a year to work up the nerve to show up. I know what you’re thinking: how hard could it be to ride a stationary bike for an hour?


The first class I couldn’t even make it for 30 minutes.

I went into my second class with the goal of simply staying for at least that same amount of time. Which I did. Thirty-two minutes and I was done.

The third time I went, I merely hoped to add another five minutes to my endurance. Eventually I would be able to do an hour. It just might take a while.

It was during this class that I started understanding the infectious and addictive element of working out at that level. I suffered through the first 20 minutes and didn’t think I could even make it to 30. But the music was great, so I just decided to take it song by song. “If I like the next song, I’ll stay through it,” I told myself. And the next thing I knew, we were cooling down. Sixty-minutes was behind me.

The next class, I rode alongside a friend. I confessed to her that I find the workout itself unbearable. That I count down the minutes until it’s over. I expected her to give me some infuriating pep-talk about getting in “the zone” and being swept away by the sensations of pulsating muscle and streaming sweat.

Instead she said, “Yeah, it sucks.”

It does?

“Oh, God, it’s the hardest workout. It’s miserable. But you feel so good when it’s done.”

This is so completely, inexplicably, unequivocally true. I spend a full hour pedaling a bike while saying to myself, “What could I have been thinking?” And exactly 15 seconds after the class is over I’m going over my next week’s schedule to determine when I can spin again. You simply cannot beat the high.

My dental experience turned out to be as pleasant as you could hope for. Xanax. IPod. No root canal. Crowns made on premises in one visit. They all but served me tea and crumpets. Sorry, Dr. G. I still hope to never see you again.

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