Solo spinning. And squid.

Here’s kind of a surprising fact about me: I don’t love spinning class.

I enjoy biking quite a bit (which reminds my of my gorgeous baby blue Specialized road bike, which is in storage because I’m too much of a weenie to ride in the city – sniff.)  And I’ve enjoyed spin classes in the past.  But at my particular gym right now, I just don’t really dig them.  Too much of a scene.

(This is not to say that my mid-morning yoga and pilates classes aren’t a scene.  Jeebus.  You can imagine the people who attend an 11 AM Pilates class in the West Village.  They’re going straight out for greyhounds and botox after class.)

Anyway.  Although I do it rarely these days, I really do think that cycling – whether in a spin class or on an actual bike – is awesome cross training for runners.

Enter: Face Down, Ass Up:

If you don’t read Rachel Wilkerson’s blog, you’re missing out.  She’s part fitness guru, part comedienne, and part girl that you’d just enjoy, like, grabbing a beer with.  Her posts are so real and down to earth, which is refreshing in the health/fitness blog world.  Not to mention hilarious.  So when I saw she’d put together a DIY playlist/spinning workout, I was all over it.  I’d much rather hang with Rachel in my earbuds than the spin-class-people at my gym!

The 45-minute workout was exactly what I wanted: fun and challenging!  Spinning is as hard as you make it, and today I went a little light because I wanted an easier workout, but I still got my legs working pretty hard.  Aside from having good pacing and clear, direct instructions about what you’re supposed to be doing, it was entertaining as hell to listen to Rachel’s commentary throughout the workout.  Imagine doing a spin class while your favorite snarky friend sits on a couch next to you and chats with you.  It was awesome.

And the tunes?  Fantastic.  Honestly, it’s worth checking out Face Down, Ass Up for the playlist alone!  It’s eclectic – think Tegan and Sara followed by T-Pain – but somehow holds together.

A couple of comments/disclaimers/criticisms:

– This is definitely not a workout for beginning spinners.  Rachel emphasizes this on her blog as well, but I just wanted to point it out here too.  I don’t think you need to be some advanced spinhead in order to do it, but you do need to know how to set up your bike, how to carry yourself, and how to understand the basic jargon and positions.

– I don’t know if it’s something I would do, like, every single week.  I think I’ll definitely get a few uses out of the file I bought, but at some point hearing the same commentary and music repeatedly would be less than entertaining.  Fortunately, it looks like there will be regular installments of Face Down, Ass Up – and I’d definitely buy it again!

– If you’re clutching your pearls when you hear a four-letter word, then this might not be for you.  Many of the songs (and some of the commentary) contain language and topics that are a strong PG-13 – it’s not something you’d blast from your cubicle at work.  (If you’re here and reading this, you probably don’t have a problem with that, considering that “pussy” is one of my favorite words, but I’m just throwing it out there.)

Overall?  Face Down, Ass Up gets the eat, drink, run seal of approval. Perhaps you didn’t know such a seal existed?  That’s because I just made it up. But don’t let that take away from the prestige, y’all.  It’s a legit workout.  Download it and see for yourself!

Today’s EAT: It’s been a weekend of pretty ridiculous eats around here.  Breakfasts centered around using up the ginormous quantity of strawberries on hand, as well as a pack of bacon I picked up last week.

Saturday: Strawberry pancakes with bacon and fried eggs:

(Said the hubs: “Holy crap, that’s a lot of food.”  Yes, it was.)  But really, is there anything better than syrup and bacon together?  No, there is not.

Sunday: Breakfast sandwiches with egg and bacon, and a little creamy fruit salad of chopped strawberry, banana and apple mixed with nonfat plain Greek yogurt:

(The hubs actually asked if there were marshmallows in the yogurt-fruit salad!  No, but I’ll agree that it tasted totally decadent when in fact it was totally healthy!)

And then there was dinner tonight.  A couple of days ago, I came upon a few whole squids (don’t ask) and needed to use ’em up.  Can you believe I actually gutted and cleaned this myself?

I really wish I had a before picture.  I’m not generally squeamish, but tearing the head off (OMG EW) and ripping the guts out of a spineless sea creature is definitely pushing my comfort level!

The end result was pretty tasty, though.  I did a simple spicy tomato sauce with lots of red wine and garlic and tossed it with some pasta:

(See how those squid rings are purple?  That’s because I doused the pan in red wine while it was cooking.  Um, that was intentional?)

Squid is one of those foods that pretty much takes on the taste of whatever is around it.  So the bold sauce was great for this dish.  I don’t know that I’d seek out squid as an ingredient – it just doesn’t have a ton of flavor – but aside from the decapitating and scraping out of guts, it’s totally easy to cook with and quite healthy!

Today’s DRINK: One of my favorite things about Sunday dinners is having some wine while I cook.  Tonight I opened this:

(Yeah, who am I kidding.  I have a glass of wine when I cook most nights.)

Anyway.  Kana Chenin Blanc 2008.  At $8 – at my neighborhood wine shop, not TJ’s, – it was tasty enough!   Not sure if I’d seek it out but it was definitely drinkable and enjoyable for a very inexpensive wine.

Today’s RUN: Aside from getting my Face Down, Ass Up on, the hubs and I went for a nice long walk today.  I forget how nice walking is, sometimes.

We wandered downtown and ended up walking on the East River to the Bro0klyn Bridge.  And then decided we wanted to cross the bridge, which entailed trekking inland a bit, and dodging lots of tourists, but worth it for an awesome view.

I’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge before but it was years ago, when I was one of those tourists, visiting a friend who lived in the city.  It was great to do it again.  Sometimes it’s fun to do the touristy thing in your own city. 🙂

And, alas.  This is the sad end of my recovery week.  It’s time to take up the mileage again and get some good workouts in – no more relaxin’!

Today’s QUESTION: Are you a spinner?  What do you love about it?


11 responses to “Solo spinning. And squid.

  1. Ahh reading your recap made my night!! Thank you for the kind words and honest review (lol, I should totally put a “hold onto your pearls” disclaimer)…and hopefully I’ll be back in NYC for a visit this summer so I CAN be a girl you grab a beer with!!

  2. OMG. That squid makes me squirm just looking at it. I can’t believe you actually cleaned the guts out and chopped off the head! You go girl! I like squid but I have no interest in dismembering it myself.

    And the spin podcast sounds really cool! Might have to check it out, as I enjoy spinning but my gym’s spin classes are WAY too packed to ever get a bike.

    • I did the podcast in the spinning room when there was no class going on. It was lovely! My gym’s classes get really packed too (part of the “scene” that I don’t really care for). This was much more pleasant!

  3. Nice work on the squid! I could not have done that. Raw chicken is more than enough for me. Oddly, I used to work in a psych lab in college where we did things to squirrels and their brains…and it didn’t bother me back then. Yikes.

  4. I just love the name Face Down Ass Up. I now have 2 Live Crew in my head!! And loving the playlists, i love the diversity.

    That’s a gorgeous view of NYC, I never hit up the BK Bridge when I went to NYC but going this summer so that may change.

    Never done spinning because I have horrible knees but would love to try a beginner class just to see if I could handle it or not and what all the hyper is about.

  5. I’ve always wanted to take a spin class. Unfortunately they always seem full!! 😦

  6. impressed with your lack of fears, food-wise. nice squid work!

    i too have mixed feelings about spinning. it’s all the rage here but i don’t see any logic in shelling out thirty bucks per class. or maybe i’m not tough enough for it – it’s pretty intense! too much sweatiness for me – more than running, even, which i find pretty shocking. or maybe that’s just me?

    • Any indoor exercise is super sweaty for me…spinning, treadmill, whatever. I agree that it’s pretty gross. Having a nice breeze when running outdoors is much nicer!

  7. I’m sorry. I am sure it was tasty. But pulling the head off a squid – EWWWWWW!! The thought of it gives me the willies.


    I went through a year-long relationship with spinning, but we amicably parted ways. I got neurotic with the heart rate monitor, and fed up with teachers I didn’t like. Although I’m intrigued by your review.

  8. Never done spinning. Very much considering it, but too stubborn to give up a day of running.

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