by Marjolaine Tremblay


It’s worse for you than smoking. At least when people smoke, the self-inflicted damage is obvious. To anyone born in the past fifty years, it’s perfectly clear what irreversible harm is done to your body with every inhalation. Friends, family, the government—everyone is quick to point out how this obsessional vice will hasten your expiration. The ball is in plain sight.

Spin class hides the ball, and all the people I just mentioned are conditioned to keep it hidden. The whole thing is a big lie. It invents the illusion that you’re doing something legitimately challenging in the pursuit of self-betterment. In reality, spin class is a comfortable, stylish placeholder for actual adversity—the sort of adversity shouldered by earlier generations and those in the developing world. Toiling through a 13-hour coal mining shift a mile underneath the Earth’s surface—that’ll keep you humble. Walking 10 miles a day just to get a few litres of semi-potable water—that’ll teach you resilience. Without sounding too curmudgeonly, there is something about a back-breaking physical task that necessitates temperamental growth. If you think you’re getting a sufficient dose on the stationary, you’re probably not going to seek it elsewhere. 

Even people who do actual workouts have some sense of what I’m referring to. Go bike up a real mountain and then tell me it’s the same thing as Brtiney’s half hour quad-burner clinic, an ordeal that’s actually just 20 minutes of blasé coasting to the latest AT40 techno mashup. 

Corporate pomp and pageantry are largely to blame. The bolded mural quotes reading, “Crush it!”, “Never give up!”, “It’s Grind AM”, “You ride with us!”, coupled with the cultish aura of aggressive studio branding are meant to make you think these people care about you. Don’t be fooled. Indulging you in your cushy delusions is big business.

Technically, going to spin class expends more calories than sitting on the couch, but that is perhaps the only respect in which it might qualify as training. It’s not challenging, and it’s probably fostering a dangerous sense of complacency with your lifestyle. Grab life by the balls. Burn your Soul Cycle card, and go do something tough.