Spinning in the dark
Music and lighting key at Naples spin ...
NAPLES — Working out and rocking out have always gone hand and hand. Even back in the day, when Richard Simmons emoted from your television, imploring you to “do the Twist” while Chubby Checker blared in the background, people were listening to music while working out.
Today, fitness studios in Naples are capitalizing on the marriage of music and muscle-building.
Gym or dance club?
It’s 10 a.m. at the Naples YMCA. The scene is part nightclub, part ’60s psychedelic dive bar. The “spinning room” is replete with black lights, purple LED Christmas lights streaming across several walls and a silver disco ball hanging from the center of the ceiling. The song “Raise Your Glass” by Pink roars from the two speakers and permeates the room.
The six spinners — stationary bike riders — furiously pedal away. The instructor’s words are barely audible over the music, but somehow the words “check your form” make it to the women’s ears. They straighten their backs.
“We are climbing a hill,” screams Deidre Watts, YMCA spinning class instructor. That’s the call for the women to raise their backsides from their seats, pedal four times while in the air, and then sit. They repeat this 10 times in rapid succession.
“It’s a beat. As you climb, you need that beat,” Watts explains, about what goes in to choosing songs for class. “You can’t have a quiet song when you’re climbing that hill.” This is best achieved by listening to hip-hop, Watts says.
Watts spends more than 15 hours a week on iTunes, selecting new music for her classes. From week to week, she never repeats the same music.
Classes usually begin with a slower song, steadily building towards a tune with frenetic speed. The climbing portion of the class occurs about midway through the hour-long workout session. Then the pace of the workout winds back down, as the classes cycles to a ballad.
After a 30-second slow ride, things pick up a bit. “The Time” by The Black Eyed Peas, an up-tempo cover of the ’80s Cyndi Lauper hit “Time After Time,” blasts from wall to wall. By this time, most of the riders are out of energy. All but one.
“I like the upbeat, fast-paced kind of music,” says Mary Lou Schwartz, 53. She comes all the way from Bonita Springs for the workout party at the YMCA.
Today’s class ranges in age from late-40s to mid-50s. All are veteran spinners. Watts says hip-hop motivates the class the best.
The music drives Schwartz to go even faster. She’s pedaling so hard that, at one point, Watts walks over to Schwartz’ bike to tighten a loosened handlebar knob. With this music selection, Schwartz is in her element.
“I like the more hip-hop, modern music ... Rhianna, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Black Eyed Peas,” Schwartz says. The wrong music can be a deal-breaker for her.
She once complained to an instructor who played slow music. “If it’s slow-paced ... you kind of lose it,” Schwartz says.
The Group Power class at the NCH Wellness Center isn’t slow, either. But unlike the Spinning class at the “Y,” the music focuses less on speed and more on strength.
While lying on their backs, grasping dumbbells in each hand, a group of 30 women thrust their weights into the air. Here, too, the Black Eyed Peas rule: “Imma Be,” a hit by the hiphop heavyweights, pulsates throughout the spacious, well lighted room.
The songs bass-driven beat syncs perfectly with the women’s thrusts. The instructor screams out, “Do you all love rock n roll?” The women scream in unison, ”YES!”
Joan Jett obliges them. The classic, “I Love Rock n’ Roll” makes its way into the workout music rotation. The percussion-filled jam inspires the women to hoist the barbells over their heads, repeatedly. It’s clear: Weights and bass go hand and hand. While other classes at NCH Wellness play music chosen by the instructor, the music played at Group Power is selected by the Body Training System company based in Marietta, Georgia.
The music is tested in various workout clubs that have paid licensing fees for the Body Training System program. Customers rate the music on a point scale to determine whether songs make the cut for final workout CD. They sync the songs played during individual classes. Each class gets its own sound track, if you will.
“They look for songs that work in accordance to what type of exercises they’re going to do,” says Karen Dent, 39, group fitness instructor of Group Power.
She says the company chooses Group Power songs for a male-dominated class. This morning’s class is all women, ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-30s. But they don’t seem to mind the music playing.
Friday night warmup
If Power classes are just over the speed limit, Zumba classes are 100 miles an hour. Zumba is less rigid and looser. Latin music drives this hour-long Shakira video.
Leading the charge is Janette Benoit, instructor of the Zumba class at Lifestyle Family Fitness. The class is choreographed, but unhinged.
“You’re getting a workout and you don’t even know you’re getting a workout,” Stephanie Swank, 44. Today, most of her regulars, all women, know the music. While each song has its own dance routine for students to follow, some of the women go off the script if they feel they have to.
Spanish-language performers Daddy Yankee, Ruben Blades and Oscar De Leon headline tonight’s sound track. The girls bounce up and down to the bongo beats, and the merengue mesmerizes them.
“It’s like a night club, without the alcohol,” Swank says. She says dancing in the 6:30 p.m. class doesn’t feel like exercise at all.
“You’re letting loose, being yourself, having fun with a bunch of other girls.”
The class looks more like a nightclub during spring break in Cancun than a Friday night workout session. It seems more like a prelude for what’s to come later.
The song “Shots,” is rapper Li’l Jon’s ode to happy hour is the final song to blare through the speakers. For the women, it’s an anthem. The class ends abruptly, and the women rush off into the Friday night.