I tried another new class at the gym tonight. Cycle. Whenever I’ve heard anyone talk about this class, they always say, “It kicks your butt.”

I’ve been wanting to try it. I wanted to see if I could survive a butt-kicking. Lori was planning to go and it was her first time. She asked if I wanted to join her. I was like, “Yeah! Bring it on! Let’s go get our butts kicked!”

Cycle class at my gym has a reputation. It fills up fast. You have to get there early if you want in. Lori learned that people show up a half hour before class begins. They drape a towel over a bike to reserve it, then go off to do something else until it’s time for Cycle class. We showed up at 5:00. We draped our towels over a couple of bikes. There were already people there, sitting on bikes, leisurely pedaling and reading and such.

Lori and I went out and tried a few of the weight machines to pass the time. There were a couple of machines where you sit on the seat and with bent knees, press your feet against a flat platform. You’re supposed to push off with your feet until your legs straighten out. I thought something was wrong with my machine. It wouldn’t go. I said I thought it was locked up or something. Turns out I’m just a dork. I wasn’t pushing hard enough.

We tried a few more weight machines but didn’t want to wear ourselves out before Cycle class, so we went in to check out our bikes. We adjusted the seats and handlebars and tried out the pedals. The instructor came in and talked leisurely to the group while she waited for the rest of the class to arrive and begin the workout. She asked if anyone was new to the class and Lori and I admitted our newbie-ness. The instructor came and helped us adjust our seats and handlebars some more and then explained how to properly ride the bike. (Who knew there was a wrong way?)

The class was filling up by then and the instructor got on her bike and talked a bit more while she adjusted her mic and explained what we’d be doing. She apologized and said that tonight’s workout was one of the hardest ones she had. Great. She said there would be a lot of “getting out of the saddle” and the newbies should not worry so much about the up-down business, but just get used to controlling the pedals and whatnot. She warned us newbies that our butts were going to hurt tomorrow. I didn’t doubt it. I’d heard the butt-kicking warnings.

Then she went on to say she was in a good mood tonight. She said she was in a bad mood last night because people were lined up to get in on the class but all the bikes were reserved. One bike had a pair of shoes draped over it, but the person to whom the shoes belonged showed up ten minutes late while willing people were turned away. That ticked her off. I wasn’t worried. I was on time. Then she said that last night, people left half-way through the class and she got really ticked! I made a mental note. Don’t leave early if you don’t want to irritate the instructor. Not sure why I cared. Maybe just because I’m a people pleaser.

Class began. Ten minutes in, I realized I had seriously wimpy leg muscles.Ten minutes in, I was already panicking. Ten minutes in, I was wondering if we were really going to do this for a full hour and how badly did I not want to tick off the instructor?

The guy next to me picked up his towel and water bottle about fifteen minutes in. The instructor noticed a few minutes later and asked the class, “Did someone leave? Did that guy seriously just leave?” 

I was a little worried. What were the consequences of leaving after you’d been informed that leaving was very much frowned upon? Five minutes later, the guy came back and got back on his bike. I was relieved for him. I’d been worried! The instructor noticed he was back and announced to the class, “He came back!” She was happy again, thank god. I’d been worried that an unhappy instructor wouldn’t bode well for the rest of us.

There was a lot of jumping. (Stand up for four rotations, sit down for four. Stand up. Sit down. You get the picture.) There was a lot of climbing. (Increase the tension and pedal as fast as you can. Increase it some more and keep pedaling. And so on.)

Honestly, I couldn’t keep up. I sat a lot when I was supposed to be up. The instructor had given me permission as a newbie, but still. I wanted to keep up. I looked to my left. Lori was sitting too. Sometimes she stopped pedaling altogether. I looked around the class. Even some of the experienced cyclers were sitting at times. The instructor was encouraging. She called out to us newbies and said “Just do what you can. It’s really hard the first time, but trust me, after you’ve done it three times, you’ll catch on. You won’t think you’re dying anymore.” She asked for agreement from the class, “Right?” They all looked sympathetically at us newbies and nodded.

Way back at ten minutes in, I had decided the class was sadistic and I was never going back. But as we neared the end, I told myself to just keep pedaling. If I did nothing else, I was going to just keep pedaling. There were just a couple of minutes left and the instructor said to just pedal. Pedal hard and pedal fast. My legs were on fire but I made them keep pedaling. Sweat was pouring out of every pore on my body, but I kept going.

Finally, it was over and we were cooling down and dismounting. I looked over at myself in the mirror. I looked like I’d been through the ringer. I looked at Lori. She looked much the same. People outside the cycle room were looking in with curiosity. Or maybe it was horror.

“We did it,” I said to Lori.

“Oh my god, I’m dying,” she said, trying desperately to stay standing.

“Hey, we may not have kept up, but look at us,” I said. “We’re drenched with sweat. Mission accomplished.”

“Good point,” she agreed.

There was no mention of going back for more. I don’t think we’re ready to contemplate that just yet. We’ll wait and see if we’re still able to walk tomorrow morning and then maybe we’ll discuss it. Our butts have definitely been kicked.

As for right now, I’ve got a seriously under-used whirlpool bathtub and some nether regions that need a good soaking.