To Torque or Not to Torque

“To torque or not to torque; that is the question!”

Apologies to Shakespeare, but I’m borrowing some Hamlet to tell you about a first for me: spin class.


This past weekend I was invited, along with other members of Boston Bloggers, to attend a spin class at Flywheel, a studio in Boston’s Back Bay. In a fit of enthusiasm, I RSVP’d yes.

Then, I had second thoughts. And, third… and fourth…

I came up with very good reasons not to attend the spin class:

  1. It was going to snow.
  2. My husband had built a kid-friendly bobsled run in our backyard, and I wanted to give it a try.
  3. The class was in the middle of a Saturday afternoon of an otherwise (and rare) free day.
  4. I needed to clean the basement.
  5. We needed milk (see #1).

Sensing a theme with those reasons excuses? But mostly, I was scared. Oh, not the scared you get when something bad happens; it was more the nervous/intimidated scared.

I had never taken a spin class before and was pretty convinced that my chances for falling off of the bike mid-cycle would be fairly high.

The idea of spin class gave me flashbacks to an unfortunate step aerobics class in college, when I missed the step mid-workout and went sprawling across the room. My legs went one way, my arms another, and my glasses yet another. My face was beet-red afterward, and not from the impact with the gym floor—more from the humiliation. My roommates never stood next to me in class again—though, yes, you’re correct to note that at least I returned to class.

Despite my step aerobics fiasco, I am committed to trying new things. How else do we know what we like and don’t like? How else do we know what’s fun, or what’s not for us? So, off to spin class I went.

Flywheel, located in the Prudential Center, is one of those cool workout places where everyone is super excited about the class they are about to take. The energy is high, and the enthusiasm for spinning even higher. As a newbie—still with that “am I going to fall off the bike?” worry—I was surrounded by experienced riders who were very encouraging. (I heard a lot of “It’s so fun, it’s addictive, and I love it!”) After putting on my special spin shoes and figuring out how to clip them in and out of the pedals, I sat on my bike (#31) and checked out the room.

Flywheel’s studio has three levels of bikes, similar to stadium seating at the movies. The bikes are set-up to look at the instructor, who sits on a dais in the front. The music is loud—very loud—with an emphasis on songs with strong beats to encourage you to pump faster. You monitor your progress on a small screen attached to your bike that measures your torque, RPMs, and power.

Our instructor, all sinewy muscle and pep, climbed onto her bike, and we were off. The music got louder, the lights went off, the spotlight on the instructor went on, and my legs started to pedal.

A class in the dark? At first I thought it was odd, but then I realized its brilliance: it gives you anonymity in a room full of sweating, pushing bodies. It makes your experience your own in a way step aerobics never could.

Even though the room is darkened, you can see the leader board (Yes, just like Dancing with the Stars!) where you can track your performance against others in the class. Or not. I went with not; my goal is a healthy me, not a faster rider than the person next to me (she was too good anyway). But if you’re a competitive person, spin can be a great opportunity to race against the others in the class—and yourself.

The pace does not let up. I’ve never had a workout where my level of torque was so important. Frankly, I’ve never even thought about torque before. (In case you don’t know what torque is (I didn’t), it’s “a twisting force that tends to cause rotation.”)

Are you wondering if I fell? I almost did. But I held on tight, and adjusted my speed to my body, and managed to avoid any catastrophes.

At one point in the class, everyone’s wheels rotating in unison created a sound louder than the music pulsating through the speakers. The result was thrilling: our very own rhythm.

At the end of our 45-minute class, I understood the appeal of spinning. It’s a high-energy, enjoyable workout that doesn’t let up. I’ll give spinning a try again—after all, I’ve got to work on my torque.

Disclosure: I was Flywheel’s guest at the class and received a takeaway bag of snacks and coupons. All of the opinions in this post are mine.