Have you ever taken a spinning class? For the uninitiated, spinning is riding an indoor bicycle. It spins instead of taking you anywhere, so I guess the name makes sense.
– wouldn’t it be cool if the effort from spinning caused the lights to change or the music to get louder? That would be AWESOME! –
Anyways, if you are not a regular in the class, it can be very intimidating. Walk in the room, and you will see people fixing up the machines to fit them, drinking from the hippest water bottles, and adjusting monogrammed towels across their handlebars. (okay, maybe it isn’t all that bad, but snap judgements are dangerously exaggerated in our heads.) Your towel looks odd, and your water bottle lame. You fumble with the bike, and the instructor asks if you need help. You do a quick assessment in your head and decide to accept her help. She snaps a few things on the bike and loudly, or at least it seems to you, says that you should remember those numbers so that you can adjust it yourself next time.
You get on the bike and try to “pedal gently to warm up” like she says. The bike strains against you. There is no way you are that far out of shape. You push harder. Your struggle is so obvious that the instructor calls to you, “okay, hun?” You don’t respond immediately, so she comes over and asks, did you back off the resistance? [what resistance?] Without waiting for your answer, probably a good thing, she spins a knob at the front of the bike. All of the sudden, your legs are spinning wildly around on the peddles – you nearly fall off. To your horror, she grabs your arm and says, “easy now.”
If you are still in the room – way to go. At this point, you must know that all of the strangers want you to leave and are sad for you.
The class begins. The instructor simulates a ride – usually about 30 minutes or an hour – that includes some hills with a varied pace. She does this by having you sprint (spin fast) and relax (spin slow) while you adjust the resistance on your bike. Resistance simulates the pressure that you might feel from gravity if you were trying to climb a hill. The best instructors keep it entertaining as well – some will imagine scenery, others will discuss politics or pop culture, others dance/sing/or delight in other ways. These entertainments are designed to keep you focused on the instructor and not how much your legs/lungs/ego are hurting.
The thing about spinning, though, is that what you get out of it depends ENTIRELY on what you put into it. You can fake your way through a spinning class – pretend to adjust the resistance, for example. At the end of the spinning class, you will be able to check off “spinning” on your daily to-dos regardless of what you actually did during the class. The lesson, though, is that you will be best served if you give your all in every class. Give it 90% when she says, turn that resistance all the way up. Feel like you made a personal best. That’s the way to get faster, stronger, better.
Same goes for almost everything else. We can drag a mop across the floor, or we can clean it. We can browse related research, or we can create a literature review with critical analysis. We can go through the motions, or we can be the change.