I love doing two things at once.
While writing this column, I am simultaneously chatting on Facebook, eating an apple and doing physiotherapy exercises for my ankle. That's four things, I know, but you get my point. The weird thing is I don't even have the sense of multitasking. I feel perfectly focused and normal, as if doing fewer than four things at once would drive me to distraction.
And make no mistake: It does. Take meditation. The idea of sitting in one place with my mind completely clear and quiet, simply existing in the beauty and the stillness of the present moment is a logistical nightmare -- all those nagging thoughts to ignore and breathing in and out to focus on. Before you know it, I'm humming Blondie's greatest hits and mentally calculating the caloric value of six fried spring rolls and two glasses of pinot grigio (last night's dinner). I would find it much less arduous to, say, rake the garden while flossing my teeth and playing Tetris on my cellphone.
So when I hear about spynga, the new exercise hybrid fusing yoga and spinning (pronounced "spin-gah" -- geddit?), I am thrilled. I immediately put down my BlackBerry, magazine, glue gun and salad spinner, and run straight to the phone to book a class.
According to the information sheet, spynga is "a cycling and yoga class in tandem, designed to provide the ultimate balanced workout, to strengthen the body, mind, spirit. Together this physical practice can blast mega calories (700 per session!), train major muscle groups, quiet the mind, soothe the soul and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles all in a single workout." (Okay, not that last thing.)
Spynga, I figure, will either be like chocolate and peanut butter or like chocolate martinis. The first is arguably the most successful pairing in human history (second only to mules) and the second --well, let's just say, thank God the 1990s are over. That's the tricky thing about hybridization: Chocolate is good and vodka is good, but that does not mean chocolate and vodka are good together.
The class is held at a single-purpose spynga studio in a stodgy/dodgy part of midtown Toronto. I won't say which, for fear of offending the residents of Bathurst and St. Clair.
I walk up the stairs and into the sweetly decorated studio. There are pretty chandeliers, lavender wall treatments, premium scented candles and baskets for holding visitor belongings. Spynga is obviously aimed at women. This makes sense, since studies show that the female brain is much more geared toward multitasking than the male mind.
Not surprisingly, spynga was invented by a couple of stylish gal pals. Best friends Casey Schacter and Sari Nisker came up with the idea while roommates in New York a few years ago.
"I was really into spinning and Sari was obsessed with yoga," Schacter says, "and we'd each spend hours trying to convince the other that one workout was the superior one. We talked about it so much we realized they actually have a lot in common, so we decided to start a little studio."
This is an adorable story, to be sure. But I am not so sure about doing a cardio sprint on an exercise bike with my hands in prayer position. I am not sure, either, that it is possible to "live in the moment" with Zeppelin blaring from the speakers and blood pounding in my ears.
Once the cardio portion of the class is done, we get off the bikes and do sun salutations on our mats. This feels better -- except for the fact my hands are so sweaty from spinning they keep slipping out of place. "Let go of the past," Sari instructs, "and don't anticipate what's coming next." Which is a lovely idea, but difficult when what's coming next is a face plant on a Lululemon sticky mat.
The class lasts about an hour and at the end I feel pleasantly tired, and slightly confused. It is not as if I have gone through both a spin class and a yoga class, but as if I have done a bit -- but not quite enough -- of each. I am semi-relaxed and semi-invigorated, which is a semi-good feeling for someone who likes to do several things at once.
The verdict? Chocolate peanut butter martinis.