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Spinning is awesome at Biker Barre

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My girlfriend keeps on inviting me to Spin at Biker Barre in DC on Capitol Hill and I have never said no because it's pretty awesome.  

My girlfriend keeps on inviting me to Spin at Biker Barre in DC on Capitol Hill and I have never said no because it's pretty awesome.  

Our favorite instructor was Lauren Rice until she moved away to Seattle for grad school -- we miss you, Lauren!

Now, we're digging on co-owner Katie Geffken, though we've really enjoyed Ashley Kristin Stanwick and Shelby Poduch as well.

Katie G is crazy hot. She dances and prances and it's hard not to have a lot of fun in her class (don't worry, my girlfriend agrees 100%). Katie's energy is infectious and she's very generous and helpful to first-timers.

Why do all those pretty women get to have all the fun? Spinning is fun, challenging, and a lot like a early morning pop music dance party! Seriously, were it not for spin, I don't think I would know any modern pop dance songs. 

Here's some advice you need to to know before you start spinning:

  1. If it's your first time, ask for help with your bike: 90% of every cyclist I see on the road has their saddle height and handlebars set wrong. So, don't wing it at your first Spin class. Get to class early and as for the instructor's help as soon as he or she is free. You'll have a much better first experience if the bike's set up right the first time. Take note of the letter setting on your seat height. I think I am a P.
  2. The lights are off, there is no performance board, and the music is loud pop: At Biker Barre, once the the ride begins, the instructors turn off the overhead lights, the only lighting offered by battery powered candles. So, don't feel self-conscious. People can't really see what you're doing -- and really don't care. They're paying attention to their own ride and the instructors. It's really not a judgmental space at all. 
  3. The resistance knob is your friend not your enemy: when your instructor tells you to turn the resistance knob to the right, they don't mean a full turn. Lauren Rice was really great at making it clear that turning the knob right might just mean a centimeter or an inch right. Lauren was also really good at making it clear when you need to take resistance off and how it should feel and what a "flat road" feels like versus a "small hill," a "medium hill," and what different positions are -- here are some spinning terms for you before you go; here's some more Spinning terms -- and always remember, you will not be judged for just riding your own pace the entire time. 
  4. Drink water starting the night before: and then keep drinking in the morning. Dehydration is real, even though you might be only riding for 45-minutes, if I don't make sure I am hydrated, I quickly bonk. My performance is nothing like a regular or the instructors
  5. Don't wear baggy bottoms: since I wear a rowing singlet under my gym shorts, I often ditch my shorts when I get into class and get set up. If your shorts are too baggy, they might get caught on the seat during the workout. There are lots of up-and-downs during class -- it's worse than Catholic Mass, but not kneeling. There are several positions: out, up, down, and back. When you ride "back," you're hovering above the saddle with your arms out on the bars.  All this movement can catch your baggy gym shorts. 
  6. Bring cool water to class: I don't mind room temperature water but my girl really prefers cold bottled water. There are two spots on the bars you can put your bottle and the instructors always remind their riders to drink water.
  7. Biker Barre is set up to use SPD cleats: if you use Shimano-style clipless pedals on your road or mountain bike, bring them to class and they'll serve you well. If you're just buying for class, consider mountain bike-style recessed shoes so you don't have to switch shoes when you arrive at the studio. Not all of the bikes have cages that you can use with street shoes, but many do -- on the flip side of the SPD clips. I believe most stationary bikes set up Spinning have SPD clips but don't hold me to that.
  8. Keep having fun no matter what: like Yoga, Barre, Zumba, and CrossFit, Spinning can be pretty intimidating if you don't know all the steps. So, it's essential to just have fun. If you bonk out, just keep spinning. If you can't do any more push-ups, don't; if you can't keep up with the cadence or pace during surges or sprints, don't -- just do your best and have fun. Making yourself sick with over-exertion or from intimidation isn't worth it.  Have fun and pretend you're your inner 6-year-old and have fun on the bike, No matter what you do, the bike won't fall over, nobody will make fun of you, and the instructors will always show you so much support you'll want to come back. 
  9. You're rewarded with a scented iced towel: when the ride is done and you transition to cool down and stretches, your Biker Barre instructor will get off her bike, take rolled white towels out of a mini fridge, and hand them out to you and everyone else. I believe the towels smelled up oranges on on Friday but I believe I have enjoyed rosemary and other lovely scents. It's such a nice little reward at the end of every ride.

I went back to some old posts and I always joke about not stroking out:@chrisabraham: Survived second spin class. Didn't stroke out again. Actually enjoyed it.

@chrisabraham: For to Spin again today. 5:45 with Ashley S. Awesome. Didn't bonk. Secret? 4 cups of water an hour before class. PS: didn't stroke out!

@chrisabraham: Spinning almost killed me today. It was awesome. Thanks B. Katie G is a Spin murderer. She's awesome.

I wear bargain JL Racing unisuits to my classes because I don't like it when my shirts ride up. Since rowing trou have a little bit of padding and we're really only rowing for around 45-minutes, I am plenty good.  I also wear a silly headband and wristbands made out of either orange or gray terry.  So, with my Specialized clipless bike shoes, my silly accouterments, a rowing onesie, and a black t-shirt, I am sure I am a sight for sore eyes.

Then, when the ride's over and I swap over to my road shoes (my bike shoes are old from when I competed and the clips are not recessed), I always create a block full of steam off my body when I leave the studio -- it's really amazing how much heat I give off after only 45-minutes of high intensity workout.

I cannot recommend giving it a go more even if you're a dedicated cyclist.  Since you control your own pace and intensity, even someone who isn't very fit can really benefit from Spinning. It's especially good for people who are currently too heavy for running or jogging or sprinting just yet or for folks who have problems with high-impact workouts. 

There's a reason why people who are into high intensity interval training or Tabata workout often choose stationary indoor bikes as their exercise of choice. There's no limit to the amount of effort that you can dump into your indoor bike, especially when a sexy hot instructor is motivating, encouraging, and stoking you to ride as absolutely as hard as you want to in order to become the person you want to become, to have the life you want to live.

It's 2016!  What do you want your life to look like? What do you want to look like? How do you want to feel? How strong do you want to be?


 Chris Abraham after a biker barre spin class


Biker Barre co-owner Katie Geffken





JL Racing unisuits




Chris Abraham with his sexy gray athletic terrycloth headband