You approach bikes with levers and dials that make no sense. It seems like it’s going to be hard; when was the last time you rode a bike? Thoughts flood your head as you get started and you feel your quads fire up. The saddle threatens to split your sit bones, something no one told you about. Can I really sustain this for an hour, you ask yourself?
Yes, you can. Lisa Woods is sure of that.
Woods is a spin teacher at Best Fitness in Westgate Plaza, right on Central Avenue. She’s a wizard at her craft; her Instagram videos are small snippets of the high-energy, low-intimidation presence she brings to her studio. While indoor spin can be hard at first, Woods knows anyone can keep up with her if they want to try their hand.
“The key to mastering indoor spinning is to ask questions and be honest with your instructor,” Woods said. “If you come in and you’re unsure, a good spin instructor will always be happy to help. We can calm your nerves, help adjust your bike and get you going.”
Woods has been on the other side of the fitness world. Once weighing 200 pounds, she knows what it feels like to walk into a gym and feel imposter syndrome. New spinners feel that fear of being judged by the people surrounding them, something Woods promises isn’t happening. People truly working out do not care what you’re doing — if you’re locked into your set, you won’t notice anything short of an explosion.
“The instructor sets the tone for the class,” she said. “We want things to be fun. We want you to feel comfortable. The only person you need to focus on is the instructor and yourself. You never need to look next to you.”
Woods is especially fond of her studio at Best Fitness because it lacks mirrors. While larger-than-life mirrors flank the entire room of many gyms, this room doesn’t have a single one. Woods knows a mirror can do more harm than good; people who are new to the gym often spend more time staring at themselves in the mirror, analyzing every flaw. With spin, you’re in one place for an hour, meaning you have a ton of time to pick yourself apart if you’re already feeling self-conscious or negative. While indoor spin is considered cathartic for many, the experience will sorely disappoint if someone is too preoccupied with a perceived flaw they host.
“I want people to stop listening to those stories their neighbors say and then comparing themselves,” Woods said. “Just because your neighbor felt the saddle hurt or couldn’t keep up doesn’t mean anything about your ability, regardless of your fitness level.”
Indoor spin also presents a different set of challenges with COVID-19 guidelines, something Woods and the gym are on top of. Because close contact with the bike is inevitable, each bike is sprayed and sanitized between customers. Masks are required for the duration of the class, and for that matter, the entire time you’re in Best Fitness. Woods said she encourages riders throughout their class to take sips of water, which allows for a couple of breaths without the mask. Nonetheless, the masks and sanitization protocol has kept Best Fitness, and New York gyms in general, from becoming a superspreader destination.
Woods encourages everyone who wants to spin to give the class a shot. While stories can be daunting, finding the right instructor and having an open mind is the key to enjoying your class.
“There are people of all shapes, sizes and ages in my classes,” Woods concluded. “There isn’t a single reason to think anyone will ever make you feel anything but amazing about yourself.”
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