Opinion: What fitspo models won’t tell you about spin class

Group exercise has always been a cringeworthy thought in my mind. The prospect of being in a crowded room with sweaty strangers while an instructor with a rock-hard body shouts constructive criticisms has never been my idea of a good workout. I remember when the Zumba craze became a “thing” and I vowed to never subject my uncoordinated self to that kind of torture. Having no rhythm is bad enough; I didn’t have to do it publicly.

As someone who has repeatedly tried and failed to workout solo, I decided to throw all of these longstanding judgments out the window to see what all the hype was about. Maybe these fitness magazines and workout gurus were onto something. I decided to sign up for a workout class.

After scouring the Internet for options I chose to try out the spin class near my apartment. As someone who has no balance and little flexibility the idea of riding a stationary bike seemed to be the safest option for a group fitness amateur.

I convinced two of my friends to come along and signed up online for the next available class. We had no idea what to expect.

We arrived about 15 minutes early as the website suggested and swapped our Nikes for some legit cycling shoes that are lightweight and hook into the bike pedals. This is a very important safety feature that ensures you don’t seriously injure your foot by getting it wrapped up in the spinning pedals.

There was loud music coming from the class we were eagerly waiting to end. When it was our group’s turn to enter the studio, the front desk attendant advised us to choose between two, three and five-pound weights to use during the workout. I was feeling ambitious and opted for the three pounds. It was a choice I immediately deemed a mistake when it came time to use them.

My friends and I appeared to be the only newbies as the attendant led us in to the dark studio with florescent lights and told us the basics. Luckily, we were able to pick our bikes online and, naturally, I opted for the back corner.

As soon as we were all hooked in, I realized my first problem: this bike seat is extremely uncomfortable. I’ve ridden plenty of bikes in my life and I don’t remember any of them being this intolerable.

I noticed everyone was pedaling as we waited for the instructor, so I half-heartedly joined in. I can’t remember the last time I did cardio and wanted to save what little energy I had for the actual workout.

When the instructor entered the room he introduced himself and explained how he would be leading the 45 minute class. Basically, he calls out the revolutions per minute, or RPM, and resistance ranges that the class should be pedaling at for each interval. He explained there would be “uphill” and “flat”’ sections and I prayed that the latter would be much more frequent.

The start of an upbeat Ellie Goulding EDM remix signaled the class had begun and it was time to start pedaling at a 70 to 90 RPM with a 3 to 6 resistance level for the next 45 seconds. The instructor would use the songs’ many beat drops to switch between different intervals where we would pedal standing up or down, or do a combination of both.

A short time into the class I realized another problem: the hunching. Now I own up to having extremely bad posture, but the constant bend of my back over this bike was uncomfortable to say the least.

I noticed my bike number declining steadily on the leaderboard situated over the instructor’s head with everyone’s stats. It’s safe to say I was completely drained and staring down the clock less than 20 minutes in. My hair was drenched in sweat, and I was holding back the urge to chug the limited water supply I had left. When it came time to incorporate arm workouts, the little three-pound weights I selected earlier proved to be too much for my Jell-O-like arms.

I glanced around the dark studio of hardcore spinners and picked out my fellow strugglers. I couldn’t help but notice the large puddle of sweat underneath the man’s bike to the left of me. He had also dropped a weight, but was still chugging along. I formed an imaginary alliance and decided we would all get through this together.

With 10 minutes left, I drank the rest of my water and decided to focus on the music to get my auto-piloted legs to the end of this thing. I sang along to a Lil Wayne throwback and an unexpected Waka Flocka Flame record that I believe was “Hard in the Paint” featuring Ciara to finish out the class.

When I stepped off the bike I wasn’t sure my wobbly legs could hold my weight, but was happy to be rid of the uncomfortable seat and hunching of the bike.

My friends and I marveled at our soaked sweat towels and exhausted bodies. We had clearly underestimated the brutality we had just put our bodies through.

I can’t say that I’ll ever become someone who works out on a regular basis, but I now understand the allure of workout classes. I’m thinking hot yoga next.

Featured image by Mariah Bowers

Edited by Taylor Owens

City Council approves grant to aid HIV/AIDS victim housing

Jim York, Finance Director, gives the final funding report on general obligation bonds at the Knoxville City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Jim York, Finance Director, gives the final funding report on general obligation bonds at the Knoxville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Knoxville City Council authorized the mayor, Madeline Rogero, to execute an agreement with local nonprofit organization Positively Living Inc. during their meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Due to Rogero’s absence, vice mayor, Nick Palvis presided over the meeting and stood in favor of the agreement with the Knoxville-based charity. The agreement will afford $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for building rehabilitation that will permit the addition of five more living units to its current 16,000 square foot East Fifth Avenue facility.

Becky Wade, director of community development, invited Steve Jenkins, executive director of Positively Living Inc., to provide the council with some background information on the organization.

“Positively Living has been around since the mid-1990s, and serves victims struggling to cope with the challenges created by HIV/AIDS, homelessness, mental illness, disabilities, and other health conditions,” said Jenkins.

The upkeep of the facility is vital in carrying out the organizations key efforts which, according to the Positively Living Inc. website, include “providing case management, supportive housing, food service, and mental health/addiction counseling to individuals who are homeless; mentally ill; addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other substances; and/or living with HIV/AIDS.”

The Knoxville Community Development Department is able to fund building projects through the Community Development Block Grant program. The CDBG is the second largest funding source in the department’s consolidation plan. In 2013, the city expended a total of $1,620,637  in CDBG funds. Other funding sources for the department include HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Emergency Solutions Grant.

Knoxville’s Community Development Department administers a variety of programs geared toward the revitalization of Knoxville’s low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. In order for resources to have the greatest impact, the Department targets its programs to strategy areas that are selected periodically. To learn more, click here.

Edited by Jessica Carr


Science forum to discuss epidemics of common wildlife

The UT Science Forum featuring Dr. Marcy J. Souza will be held at Thompson Boling Arena Dining room C-D.
The UT Science Forum featuring Dr. Marcy J. Souza will be held at Thompson Boling Arena Dining room C-D.
Mariah Bowers/ TNJN

An assistant professor at UT will address the state of deteriorating wildlife at the UT Science Forum that is being held Friday, March 7 at noon in the Thompson-Boling Arena Ding room C-D.

Dr. Marcy J. Souza will present “Epidemics of Less Glamorous Wildlife: What Can We Do to Stop Them?” at the weekly lecture held by the UT Science Forum.  Amanda Womac, President of UT Science Forum, describes the weekly lecture as a valuable resource to the local community.

[quote]“There’s a lot going on at the University of Tennessee that the community might not be aware of,” said Womac. “The UT Science Forum provides the opportunity for members of the community to learn about the latest research or advances in science at UT. It’s also a great way for community members to be exposed to new ideas.”[/quote]

The event will inform the attendees of  lesser-known threatened wildlife and the ways local and global institutions, such as UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory can help.

The weekly science forum held by UT is free and open to the general public. Presentations are 40 minutes and followed by question-and-answer sessions. Attendees are encouraged to bring or buy lunch at Thompson Boling Arena Café.

For most information visit http://scienceforum.utk.edu.

Edited by Jessica Carr

Local grocery store feeds families for the holidays


Local families collecting Earth Fare turkeys for Thanksgiving at Fish Hospitality Pantries. Liz Hatcher - Earth Fare HR Manager
Local families collecting Earth Fare turkeys for Thanksgiving at Fish Hospitality Pantries.

Healthy supermarket, Earth Fare, in Turkey Creek donated 93 turkeys to local families in need this Thanksgiving season.

The store started donations during the first week of November and carried through until the day before Thanksgiving, just in time to meet their goal of 90 turkeys.

“Each year we expand our goal and donate more turkeys to local families,” said Liz Hatcher, Earth Fare’s human resource manager in Turkey Creek. “Last year we donated around 70 turkeys, which we’ve exceeded this year by more than 20. That’s 20 more families with a turkey on their table this year, and that’s amazing.”

The health foods grocery store has two locations in Knoxville, one in Turkey Creek and the other in the Bearden area. This is the fourth year that the company has held a Thanksgiving turkey drive. Earth Fare has locations all throughout the Southeast, and the money donated to every individual store benefits each of the local communities.

Frequent shopper, Brenda Carlson, 47, said, “I think it’s great that Earth Fare dedicates this time of year to giving back to families in need. I think a lot of people want to donate but don’t know where to start, so it’s great that you can give back to a local cause on a regular trip to the grocery store.”

The branch in Turkey Creek donated their never frozen, hormone and antibiotic-free, 100 percent natural turkeys to Fish Hospitality Pantries, a local volunteer based non-profit organization that, “currently provides food packages to over 11,000 families each month from four Knoxville locations based where they are accessible to people most in need,” according to their website, FishPantry.org.


Edited by Jennifer Brake


St. Jude Give thanks Walk rallies local community

Knoxville community takes first lap for
St. Jude Give thanks. Walk.
Mariah Bowers TNJN

Hundreds came out to support the “St. Jude Give thanks. Walk.” on Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Knoxville Zoo; where more than $70,000 was raised. The event started at 9 a.m. and admission and registration was free all day.

The Knoxville community joined together to support the St. Jude Children’s Research Facility; although the hospital is located in Memphis, its support group in Knoxville proved to be strong.

The morning kicked off with complementary breakfast and St. Jude souvenirs handed out by the many volunteer groups, including: Epsilon Sigma Alpha, UT Club Tennis, UT Triathlon Team, UT Leadership and Service Ambassadors, Junior League of Knoxville, and Farragut High School National Honor Society.

Early morning entertainment was also provided underneath the event tent. The Hawks cheerleaders along with a few former St. Jude patients led the excited crowd with cheers and warm up stretches.

Excited walker, Lauren Sanabria, said “I’m having such a great time! It’s for such a great cause and you can really see that from the energy in the crowd. Everyone is so excited to be here and passionate about who’s benefiting from the money!”

St. Jude’s mission is “to find cures for children with cancer and other deadly diseases through research and treatment.” The facility treats children from all over the world for no cost at all to the families.  According to brochures handed out at the event, “St. Jude’s research and patient care have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.”

Edited by Jessica Carr

Hunger Games star walks Knoxville red carpet

Liam Hemsworth signs autographs for Hunger Games fans at Knoxville Regal Premiere event.
Zach Dennis/ TNJN

Liam Hemsworth walked the red carpet at the Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 Tuesday night to benefit the annual Variety: the Children’s Charity of Eastern Tennessee.

The charity event included an early screening of the highly anticipated The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as well as appearances from one of the stars, Liam Hemsworth, and the director, Francis Lawrence.

A drawing for a limited number of tickets was offered to Regal Crown Club members, which included a grand prize of four free tickets and a limo escort.

Fans lined up at the theater hours in advance to get a glimpse of the coveted star arriving at the event. Kelsi said, “I left school early, just to make sure I had a good spot in line! I have to see Liam! He’s amazing!”

Many members of the eager crowd had made posters declaring their love for the Hollywood star, some even proposing marriage. Miranda, 16, said, “I think it’s great he’s doing this all for charity and taking the time to come all the way to Knoxville, Tenn. How crazy is that?”

The event helped raise more than $500,000 for Variety: A Children’s Charity, which helps to improve children’s lives all around the world. The charity’s local chapter, founded in Knoxville in 2001, has accumulated more than $5 million for East Tennessee children.

Hemsworth joined an established list of stars to participate in the fundraiser that includes the Twilight stars Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner and X-men star Hugh Jackman.

Edited by Jessica Carr