Top Image: Alvin Tan / Facebook
You’ll know if you have friends who regularly attend spin classes. They’ll inform you via their Instagram stories, bring it up in casual conversation, or invite you to attend a class with them.
In a spin class, willing participants hover over a stationary bike, pedalling to music played at nightclub volumes and performing choreography. Tap, pulse, bounce, repeat. Alright, now in double time.
The class usually takes place in the confines of a dark studio with strobe lights. Sometimes, however, special spin classes are held beyond those studios. More recently, Redditors criticised a spin class held at Jewel Changi Airport for blocking the walkway.
“Never have a group of people moved so much, gone nowhere, and yet somehow managed to annoy the entire world,” one Redditor comments. Another brands the class as an “eyesore”.
The idea of spinning ducks couldn’t be a more perfect analogy for Singaporeans on stationary bikes going nowhere as easy targets for criticism. It’s almost too easy.
Let Them Spin!
Evidently, spin classes have successfully pedalled their way into the spotlight. From the gratuitous Instagram stories to their lively spectacles in public arenas, it’s safe to say that spin enthusiasts aren’t exactly shy.
Perhaps, it’s also this unabashed publicity of spin classes that has inadvertently unleashed the gush of Singaporeans’ vitriol.
Indeed, it’s undeniable that the class connotations tied to spin classes contribute to the preconceived perception of it as a status symbol. When we think of spin enthusiasts, we picture office ladies decked out in Lululemon gear, gracefully juggling their bento-box salads and $8 cup of cafe-roasted latte as they rush towards their nearest spin studio.
The exercise itself seems secondary when it comes to the ability of these stationary bikes to signal a belonging to some ‘in group’.
To be clear, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with partaking in spin culture solely for the sake of posting that post-spin perspiration selfie. We’re all guilty of it. If that workout didn’t make it onto your social media feed, can you really say that you exercised at all?
Let’s also not discredit the countless others tethered to their stationary bikes for reasons beyond that Instagrammable hit of dopamine.
Fitness, stress relief, and pursuits of endorphins all count towards plausible reasons. After all, for those actively participating in this fashion-forward fitness trend, what’s so wrong with wanting to blend their desire for a healthy lifestyle with dashes of social currency?
Spin classes in public arenas like Jewel Changi Airport can be a fun way for participants to break free from the humdrum of their traditional gym routines.
We see this trend playing out in a kaleidoscope of fitness escapades—zumba aunties turning mall side entrances into spirited dance floors; neighbourhood uncles doing tai chi at HDB void decks; open-air yoga workshops conducted at Marina Bay Sands. Yet, we hardly afford them the same level of scrutiny and criticism.
The Wheels of Anger
It’s as if the mere sight of these fitness junkies triggers some peculiar combustion of resentment. But why this disproportionate anger towards these pedalling enthusiasts?
It might be the exclusivity which spin classes carry. The criticism surrounding spin harbours a deeper discontent, alluding to preconceived notions about people who spin—the same white-collar office workers decked in Lululemon gear.
Perhaps it alludes to their financial capacity—that they pay to take up space in public, but also indirectly pay for the ability to disrupt some of the peace. Just like the class at Jewel.
It’s also about the sheer absurdity of it all.
The irony is glaring—stationary bikes, originally crafted for the convenience of indoor cycling, are now sprawling across a tourist attraction, taking up chunks of public space.
But above all, perhaps what most irks Singaporeans is the frivolous extravagance at the core of spin classes. We’ve taken the pedestrian act of riding a bicycle, and bedazzled it with strobe lighting and boujee studios.
And now, we’ve taken it one step further by holding the class outdoors; infiltrating a public space feels like the next step in its overindulgence.
The unfortunate thing about spin is that it’s always had haters. A community with a strong identity will be met with an equally strong community of critics and detractors.
Criticism targeted at indoor cycling is inevitable, despite how difficult and strenuous the actual endeavour is.
But criticism can just as easily turn into senseless hate. And senseless hate can easily undermine those who are simply hoping to clock in their cardio for the day.
Perhaps the most acceptable form of criticism probes that line—between reasonable criticism and irrational anger; between instances of inconvenience and perceptions of exclusivity for the well-off.
Anything that attacks the people on the bike instead of the inconveniences posed by a mass of panting bodies exerting incredible effort and going nowhere, is just mean. No matter how extra, some Singaporeans really just want a workout, even if that workout is in the middle of Changi Airport.