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You can do anything for a minute, says my spin coach, Kirk. Literally. A disclaimer here, he’s not actually “my” coach, he’s my husband’s coach. Mark is a competitive athlete and I gave him Kirk for Christmas several years ago. I’m just a hanger-on.

My experience, on the other hand, is that not all minutes are the same. The minute he is often referring to is the last minute of a three-minute set spinning at 23 mph at your maximum watts. I didn’t even speak “spin” until I joined his class and I am far from fluent.

I do know that the seconds that make up his minutes are excruciatingly slow. In those few moments when the perspiration flowing from my eyeballs clears for an instant and I can see the gizmo that tracks my efforts, the seconds do not “tick” by like a metronome, they “tick” by as in pissing me off because they appear to be stuck. This situation probably results in “real” athletes digging deep, getting tough, doubling down, telling themselves that pain is temporary and success is forever (that actually is more spin talk from the coach). Not for me. The words in my head tell me that I am going to die, that stopping is the most intelligent thing to do and, after all, I’d rather be smart than dead.

Clearly, at some point the minute does pass and I do not pass on. When enough oxygen returns to my brain for me to be able to focus, I often do feel a tiny bit of accomplishment. That is until one of two things happen. It is time to begin again or I happen to catch a glimpse of, or a comment about, the numbers, watts, that reflect effort on the bike.

Watts. Not watts like in the abbreviation “watt’s up,” but watts as in, well actually, I still have no idea what watts are other than, like many things people measure, the bigger the number the better. (Just as an aside, this is the way I wish the numbers on the scale worked!) I, who you remember have almost died during the last minute (the one where you can do anything) of the set, have recorded watts hundreds of numbers smaller than everyone else, who I might add certainly did not contemplate that their last minutes on earth might be spent on a bike, at dawn, in a dark room, in spandex, with their feet firmly attached to the pedals.

As another aside, I have indeed imagined that losing consciousness with your feet “clipped” into a stationary bike would result in really, really serious injuries to both your body and your psyche (if you lived that is).

To be fair, the other truism of coach Kirk is: “what’s work for you is work for you”.  Ok. In this particular class what’s work for me is a pre-warm up for the athletes, and what’s work for them is, well let’s just call it fatal for me. In the interest of full disclosure, I have indeed gotten stronger, one tiny watt at a time.

I, however, cannot seem to buy completely into the mantra that you can do anything for a minute. The are many, many things that I can do for a minute, a large measure of them entirely pleasurable. In fact, those seem to be the minutes I’m most attracted to. But, I will continue to get up two mornings a week, in the dark, bike shoes in one hand, coffee in the other and make the trek to the studio.

I will adjust my bike, clip in, start to pedal, and wait for that moment, one minute to go in the set, when coach Kirk appears at my side, puts a hand on my shoulder, and whispers into my ear: “You can do anything for a minute”. He believes it. And for now, he believes it for me too. I guess that’s what keeps me coming back.

Written by Ann Elden. This text originally appeared in our 2018 Magazine. 


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