First Lecture

Day one of specialized courses on human awkwardness and uncomfortable situations.

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Hi there, neophyte stationary bikers! Welcome to today’s lecture!

Pause. Take a moment to pat yourselves on the back. You did it! For maybe the first time in your life, you prioritized your health! With enough cash to feed an orphanage of disadvantaged children for a calendar year, you purchased a piece of boutique exercise equipment to burn the excess fat from the midsection of one gluttonous individual. Hooray!

Think of the barriers you overcame to get here. Not long ago you made fun of that sexist Peloton commercial along with everyone else and now look at you. When enough people you knew bought one first, you followed blindly along like the good little mindless lemming you are. Now you have a luxury exercise bike of your own—just like the cool kids! Are you ready to ride?! Let's go!

First, you need to adjust those settings. When your bike arrives, its seat and handlebars will be set for a normal human body, so drastic alterations will be required to accommodate your freakish proportions. Luckily, you will find a helpful settings tutorial video on your screen, which will walk you through the entire process for free after you pay more.

To access it, simply enter your credit card information and agree to a monthly fee that would sustain an additional two starving orphans in perpetuity. Once you’ve subscribed, the screen mounted on the front of your bike will transform from a useless black rectangle into an exercise brainwashing device that will show you only what your Peloton/MYX/NordicTrack overlords want you to see. You thought you'd watch Netflix on there, didn't you? Nope! Come on, who doesn’t mind sacrificing a little free will for better quads? Dystopia here you come!

A twenty-something fitness model named Justin will show you how to set up your bike. Will there be pity on his artificially tanned face? Sure will. When he recorded the video, Justin may have been talking to a camera in a studio, but in his mind he imagined himself speaking to someone who looks exactly like you. Pro tip: turn down your screen’s brightness if the glare from Justin’s veneers strains your eyes. Also, stay hydrated. You won’t do any pedaling—or much moving at all, technically—but it will be the most strenuous workout you’ve had since that time you jogged to catch those parking garage elevator doors.

Now you’re ready for that introductory ride! Look for a video on the home screen entitled “Welcome Ride,” or “Your First Ride,” or “Coming to Terms with Just How Brazenly You’ve Let Yourself Go.” A twenty-something fitness model named Kate will appear, on a bike of her own, smiling at you like a nurse in an oncology ward. She knows you won’t make it past two months on this bike, but she also knows you need her positive energy to have any chance at all.

Trust Kate. She’ll set the pace, show you how to manage resistance, explain proper pedaling form in and out of the saddle, interpret heart rate statistics and suddenly your clothes are gone. You’re standing in front of Ms. Harrison’s seventh grade biology class, naked as the day you were born, and your adolescent classmates are laughing and pointing at your exposed crotch. Desperate, you look over to Ms. Harrison for help, but she’s laughing harder than anyone.

At this point, you should lift your face from the handlebars and give yourself a good slap. You’ve passed out from overexertion and had the classic, naked-in-front-of-a-middle-school-class nightmare. Resume pedaling and finish the video. When you lift you rise from the seat, something back there in your posterior region will feel incredibly wrong. Don’t worry. Everything is fine. That feeling in your tailbone is just your body’s way of letting you know your coccyx has been pulverized into a fine, cocaine-like powder. It will re-solidify in a few days. You did it!

Once you’ve taken that first ride, you’ll have all the motivation you need to cycle regularly for the next 4-7 weeks. Then, you’ll drape laundry across the handlebars and periodically say, to the dog or whoever’s around, “I should really use that damned exercise bike.” You won’t! And that orphanage you failed to fund? Still barely scraping by.

Happy stationary cycling! Class dismissed!