I take the bike closest to the door. This was a strategy that worked well through college; if ever you needed to pee, cut out early, or field an important phone call, you could sneak out relatively undetected. Such measures are necessary in group exercise classes. Punking out prematurely, red-faced and dry heaving, is frowned upon, and if you have to do it, you should at least be able to attract the least amount of attention as you can.
The man at the front of the class is meaty and thick with the overdeveloped thigh muscles of a running back. He wears a black tee shirt with Iron Man silkscreened from collar to hem. “How’s everybody do-ennnn?” he bellows into the room. His voice is that of a Russian Rocky Balboa. Moscow meets Philly. Oh, I am in for a treat, surely.
He saddles onto his own bike, announcing to the classroom that he’s made a new CD. As the class wears on, I endure club house remix after club house remix of any and all popular 80s song. No stone is left unturned: Madonna, Cindy Lauper, The Cure. The benefit of these terrible tunes is that at times I don’t even feel as though I’m in spin class, but instead fist pumping at 3 a.m. somewhere in the Meat Packing District on a Friday night. Bridge and Tunnel time.
“Only another seventy miles to go, my friends.” It is a joke he uses throughout the class; the mileage never changing, although I had hoped that this was a rough indicator of the true distance we still had to travel. But no, always “Another seventy miles, my friends!”
His lexicon is not one I am familiar with yet, and it will require multiple visits back to begin to understand him fully. The music explodes through the black speakers above and his voice barely makes it through the reverb. After each intense burst of peddling, he yells out, “REcovah!” After which point, I watch as he turns his resistance down on the bike and happily recalibrate my own.
I notice the way he looks towards my back corner of the room and I allow my hair to fall around me, obstructing my face and, hopefully, my small chest. What little bouncing these boobs do during the class, I would prefer to keep to myself. Later on, while taking a curious stroll through the class while we are all on “climb mode” he moves my hand to the front bars, where they are supposed to be. And while I appreciate the corrective sentiment, I notice that he does not offer to adjust the hands of the girl next to me. He leaves his sweaty hand on my sweaty hand for an inappropriate amount of time, patting it before he leaves like that pervy grandpa your mother won’t let you be in the same room with over Christmas.
Later, he comes back and does it again. My muscles and my soul groan in discontent.