Good wine food and a note on spinning

Last night Sally and I tried a new “wine restaurant” in Cameron Village called Cafe Caturra. I wasn’t entirely sure what a wine restaurant was, but they pulled off the neat trick of creating (at least for me) a natural, comfortable new category. A young waitress greeted us and told us we could sit anywhere (it wasn’t crowded) and order food, but we might first want to stop by the bar and choose a glass of wine.

The bar was tended by a tall, friendly guy who showed the wine-by-the-glass choices — ten or so whites and as many reds. As soon as we expressed interest in one of the Chardonnays, he produced a taste of the wine, which was buttery and delightful, and we happily ordered a glass. Then we found a table and ordered — a veggie panini for me and a little pizza for Sally. These were simple, hearty, and delicious. I liked the servers and the artsy bistro look of the place. I wasn’t crazy about the background music — hard rock, my least favorite genre — but it wasn’t overwhelming.

The music was several times louder at my two spinning classes at Rapid Fitness earlier in the week. Sally asked me how I liked it, and I told her that I liked the second one better, when I knew to bring ear plugs. These were my first ever spinning experiences, and I was a little anxious going in, as with anything new. The only thing I knew about spinning was that it involved riding a stationary bike, which seemed like such a simple idea that I had trouble believing people would give it a particular name or do it together. Since it had a name and a following, I figured there were also rules and norms, and of these I knew nothing. Was it possible to screw up spinning? I didn’t know, and since this was a group activity, I worried just a little.

Fortunately I managed to get to class a few minutes before the 6 am start time and have a brief orientation chat with Paul, the teacher. He showed me how to set up the bike adjustments and gave me the lowdown on bike shorts and shoes. He also recommended that I pick a bike near the fan, because we were going to be sweating. He suggested that since I was new, I might find at points that I needed to gear back a little from his recommended intensity. I thought this was both mildly insulting and probably wrong, since I couldn’t see hnow a stationary bike could be all that serious a fitness challenge. But boy, was he right.

A few minutes later a group of eight or so had assembled. Paul put on a microphone, fired up the dance music, and told us to get going. For the next hour he combined straightforward coaching (“now, crank it up”), cheerleading (“you’re doing great!”), and a story line about a bike ride over three mountains (“the group ahead is looking back and sees you’re gaining on them”). After twenty minutes my heart was pounding, I was drenched in sweat and considering the real possibility that I would not make it through a full hour. Following Paul’s tip, I eased back a little, then found some more energy, and ramped back up. At the end of the class, even my shoes were soaked. As my heart rate got back to normal, I noticed an unusual mellow, light feeling — the endorphins of happiness. I did a few minutes of yoga breathing and stretching, and felt really good.

So, spinning turned out to be a kick-butt workout and more fun than expected. I considered whether my well-settled idea that I was not the sort of person who likes exercise classes might be simply wrong. At any rate I was happy to find a new activity to vary the mix of my morning exercising. It’s good to change things up.