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Burning for the greater good

Date Released: Tue, 11 September 2012 12:00 +0200

Twelve hours, 25 bikes, the challenge was on. The music was pumping. Sweat and a rose-coloured tint accompanied most cyclists. Spinning instructors kept us enthusiastic, pushing us to do drills, freezes (thigh-killers), hill climbs, sprints and various other nifty boredom-busters.

Often, as I spin I get these glorious moments, and I had one on Friday. Sweat running off my forearms, the music pumping in perfect rhythm and everything just flows... easy... effortless. I think this is what they call being in the zone. It puts a big old smile on my face, sometimes accompanied by weird snorts and outbursts of laughter as my mind wanders to various happenings of the week.

People sometimes stare, but that’s okay, I like it that way. I completed three hours of spinning, cycling about 30km each hour, and still felt good despite the beastly state of my current fitness levels. But the Rhodes University 12-hour Cyclathon was not only motivating - the instructors all sport great physiques, inspiring me to firm up my own cottage-cheese thighs.

It was a fundraiser for the Hands to Hands charity, a local organisation which provides emotional, physical, and material support to the most needy in Makana. The charity has identified a community of about 65 shanty houses in a poor condition.

The objective of the cyclathon was to bring these people some comfort by providing them with mattresses. As the new term dawned, I had made the infamous exercise vow, which hasn’t worked out too well during the winter.

The cyclathon was just the thing to get me out of my deep dark hole of ‘no exercise’ and porking out. I have been a ‘spinner’ since my first year back in 2005. I even hunted out spinning classes in Korea, which were awesome and made you feel like you’re in a nightclub with your feet strapped into a bike.

You need a high tolerance for exercise bikes and being cooped up inside with a bunch of other sweaty people for this to be a satisfying alternative to the real thing. For me it works, since I loathe chilly weather. I am very competitive and find I work harder with an instructor, music, and fellow spinners to create an energised atmosphere.

A great advantage is that you don’t have buy a pricey bike or wear one of those dorky helmets. Exercise bikes are an excellent cardio workout and are low impact, easy on the knees, ankles, joints and back. It’s safe and strengthens and tones the legs and glute muscles, working mostly the lower body.

A parting word of advice for those who want to give this form of exercise a spin: no, your legs aren’t that tired. Yes, you can breathe. Keep going.

By Leigh Jarvis

IN THE ZONE... Leigh Jarvis takes on the challenge of a three-hour spinning session for charity. Photo: Chelsea MacLachlan

Source: Grocott’s Mail