Hitting the new exercise bike every day is a nightmare | Romesh Ranganathan
When I was filming in the US a couple of years ago, I saw an advert for a spin bike with a screen on it that meant you could log in and do classes at home. I watched the ad for 30 seconds and was immediately convinced that the only reason I wasn’t absolutely ripped was because this piece of equipment was absent from my life.
This is something I have done with a lot of exercise equipment. I am a marketeer’s dream. I bought about four iterations of that roller thing for abs that everyone was using years ago, because I was so taken in by the various “advancements” that were promised. It seems ludicrous now: I was eating whatever I wanted while genuinely believing that 10 minutes of gentle rocking would effectively counteract everything else.
I emailed the spin bike company and asked whether they had any plans to release the bike in the UK (a pretty damning indictment of how I thought my attempt to break America was going). I was informed that they did not. With that, I looked down at myself and accepted that this was what I was going to look like without that bike.
It should have been a blessed relief, as the bike is super-expensive and there is no empirical evidence to suggest that I would actually use it. I once bought a set of weights and a bench in the hope that I would add some definition to the guns. That was a year and a half ago, and the sum total of my achievements with the equipment has been that the bench is still in the box and our youngest child hurt himself tripping over the weights.
The plot thickens, as they have brought the bike out in Britain now, and I bought it for what I consider to be a shit-ton of money. (It would be a shit-ton of money even if I had a record of using all of the exercise stuff I buy.) It’s a criminal amount, given that in all likelihood it will soon be used as a display stand for some kettlebells, a foam roller and a NutriBullet.
So far, though, I have been hitting it pretty much every day. The classes aren’t as easy as I’d hoped. I thought there would be at least some sessions that would be “relaxed walk-ride through Somerset”, but every day is an envelope-pushing nightmare. I find myself continuing to be cynical about the motivational chat that these guys throw out: “It’s all about you today!” and “Let’s get it!” I cringe as I move through the gears. (There are no gears but it doesn’t feel right to say “up through the increasing resistance”).
The other day, though, something unexpected happened. I was pushing myself particularly hard and sweating at the sort of levels that I would describe as “marriage-threateningly unattractive”. I was standing up on the pedals and pushing myself to beat BikeQueen1521 (the screen shows where you stand against other riders who have done the class) and had got myself into quite the state. As the class came to an end, and I struggled to breathe, the instructor looked out from the screen and said, “You did it!” And I thought: “Yes I did! Thank you!”
I immediately became paranoid. Am I starting to become one of these people now? It was then I realised. I have Stockholm syndrome. I am at rock bottom and have fallen in love with my abusers.