Saturday, February 8, 2014

Revelations in February

The month of February has been full of revelations for me, despite the fact that it has only just begun.

This week I went to my first Zumba class (this was, indeed, my first fitness class ever), and my first spin class.  I'm going to talk about the latter, even though I enjoyed the former much more.

I tore myself out of bed on Wednesday, after falling asleep at approximately 6am, in order to make it to the class by noon.  I signed in, headed to the locker room, and then went to the room where the class is held.  I'd reserved my spot the night before, and I found it, good ol' bike 22--nestled in the back, of course.  I fumbled around with the seat, trying to adjust it, and I eyed everyone in the class surreptitiously as he or she (mostly she) adjusted the bike.  (is it actually even called a bike? I don't really even know).

After fiddling around with it, I still couldn't figure it out, and since the class wasn't even half full, considered switching bikes, but I couldn't figure the one next to mine out, either.  Frustrated, I eyed the room, and immediately began to feel self-conscious, as I often do since I've gained a bit of weight.  Everyone in there was pretty skinny, except for me.  Nobody was looking at me, though, so that's good at least--for all they knew this was my hundredth spin class, not my first.

When the instructor arrived, he asked if anyone needed help adjusting their bike.  Oh, hey, it is called a bike.  Anyway, my arm shot up really fast--I figured I'd feel less embarrassed if I made a joke out of not knowing what in the actual hell I was doing. He came over, adjusted my bike, and told me some basics--like, don't lean on the handlebars, and some other stuff I can't remember now.

Then, suddenly, it was time for class to begin.  He began talking about resistance, and where we should set our resistance, and again, I was looking around the room. This time, I saw everyone fiddling with some red knob beneath the handlebars, so I did the same, and found out how to increase/decrease the resistance.  I don't know what I was at, what percentage--he threw out 20%, but I'm pretty sure i was at like 5%.  Whatever.

Now, a bit about this spin class-- at my gym, they really try to pump you up in this spin class.  The lights dim (save for the one on the instructor, unless he turns it off), and there's lots of flashing lights and it kind of seems like a party.  

Let me just say that I have never been more glad to be in the relative dark as I was on Wednesday.  Because after the instructor dimmed the lights, what followed was the worst 45 minutes of my life.  Okay, that's definitely hyperbole. But, it was pretty bad.  Unlike Zumba the day before, my eyes were glued to the clock situated directly to the right of the very enthusiastic instructor's head.  The second hands ticked away, taunting me, as the instructor told us when to stand, when to sit, when to increase or decrease our resistance.

Sure, it was a party.  A party in hell.

I spent much of the class gazing longingly at the girl running on the treadmill.  I wanted to be running on the treadmill.  Desperately.

These spin people were maniacs.  There was a 60 year old woman in the front putting me to shame.  I didn't even pedal for the whole 45 minutes.  I kept stopping, and I definitely didn't do much with that resistance button, let me tell you.

I thought about getting up and walking out--it was dark, they wouldn't even know who I was!  Fear of offending the instructor, however, kept me glued to my very uncomfortable seat.  I did pedal some, and I did it for as long as I could, and it was definitely better than lying in bed, which is what I would have been doing otherwise.

I would steal glances around the class, and everyone (some of them even having little clips they use for this cycling occasion) were pedaling their little hearts out.  And there I was, in the back, panting and stealing sips of water feeling sorry for myself.

And I was feeling sorry for myself.  I even began to cry at one point.  Why?  I'm not sure-- maybe I was embarrassed, maybe I was overwhelmed, maybe I was mad at myself because there was a time when I probably would have been able to keep up, and I somehow let myself get so far away from that.

Finally, the minutes on the clock wound down, and the instructor was rallying us for one final push-- my spin mates were whooping, and seemed to be genuinely enjoying the experience.  I decided to pedal for the last 5 or so minutes non stop, even though I had just spent the last 40 feeling sad and fighting tears--and eventually losing that battle and actually crying (did I mention how thankful I was that it was dark?).

It was during this rally (where all I was thinking--and had been thinking the whole class-- was "I can't") that the instructor said something that really hit me-- he said "Your mind is stronger than your body, I promise you."

Now, I don't know if that's true or not.  I think sometimes our minds want us to do things that our bodies just can't--but it really got me thinking.

My whole life things have come easy to me--if they haven't, I stopped doing them.  Anything that was difficult or required much practice, I wouldn't do.  And I'm not sure why.

For instance, I like to say that I'm not good at math.  But, that's not true.  My standardized test scores from elementary through middle school prove it.  The fact that my sixth grade math teacher said he thought I could go on to advanced math the next year proves it.  But, I declined.  I was too afraid of failing--too afraid of working hard, so I went on to regular 7th grade math.  I got Cs in Math in high school and college without even trying.  When I worked at it, I understood it--I was good at it, and I even sometimes liked it.

But, still, I say I'm not good at math.  No.  I'm not good at focusing on Math, because I'm used to things coming easily to me, and when they don't, I don't want to work at them.  Apparently.

Yes, that comment by an energetic sprite of a spin instructor brought all of that on.  And it brought on the notion that I want to change.  I want to start accepting challenges instead of avoiding them--or, at least, try to start doing that, anyway.  Habits are, they say, hard to break.

So, I'm going to put change into motion.  "There'll be some chaaaanges, they're long overdue; there'll be some chaaaanges in my life."  I'm not even sure what they are.  But, I'm going to try to quit telling myself I can't do things.  I'm going to try to realize that just because I have to actually work at understanding or accomplishing something doesn't mean I'm not smart enough or good enough or whatever-else enough.

I'm sure it won't be all that easy--changing my body won't be that easy, but hopefully I can take it one day at a time.  I did pretty well this week.  I ate relatively well (no fast food at all), I exercised, and I didn't berate myself for grabbing twinkies from the vending machine-- I accepted it, and moved on.  And that's a step in the right direction.  Whereas, before I would let the cheat spiral me completely out of control and use it as an excuse to eat whatever I want because obviously I couldn't do it, and I was dumb to even try.

I'm still going to In-N-Out today, but I'm also eating healthily all day, and possibly going to the gym.  

As for the spin class?  It definitely won't be a weekly thing for me, but I would like to have a long-term goal of being able to pedal for the whole 45 minutes, and eventually (who knows when) be able to do the class as it is intended.  So, I'll get back in the highly uncomfortable saddle in a few weeks, to see where I'm at after exercising regularly--in the meantime, maybe I'll start a petition for more comfortable seats on those bikes. I mean, I know we're exercising, but is a little comfort too much to ask?  A sore ass for days after a failure like that just adds insult to injury.  Or... injury to insult, as it were.

This hasn't been my only February revelation; thanks, February, for the lesson.  And, thanks, Self, for the patience.


  1. So I had a very similar experience in my first (and, so far, only) spin class. Is it normal for your ass to be so sore?? I also had soreness in my feet, the arches mainly, because of those half pedal thingies. Might explain why the regulars in spin classes at my gym also have the padded bike shorts you see real cyclists wearing and those special shoes. They seem to love it so much I feel like I am either doing it wrong or just don't have the special spinning gene that allows your ass to sit on that wedge of a saddle for 45 minute stretches 2-3 times a week. After my first spin class, which I'll admit left me close to tears as well and feeling very much like you counting away the minutes, I felt like a big failure and kind of resented those regulars who loved spin so much. After keeping up at the gym though I've found my own routine and some things that I like and have dialed back the resentment (which wasn't really fair of me so I'm getting past that). Now that I am getting back into shape I'm thinking of giving spin class a second try, though I'm still not sure its really something I'll actually enjoy (personally, as far as group exercise, yoga classes are more my taste - have you ever given that a try? You might like it.).

    I completely understand what you mean about being discouraged, but also totally applaud you for coming to this realization. I think it is definitely worth giving it another try, but if you still don't like it, don't let yourself feel like a failure. It is worth it to know this about yourself, and making yourself go back for a second time is already good progress. Maybe you'll find out you love it, and maybe not. I think as long as you distinguish that you're not continuing because you actually don't like it and want to find something you enjoy more, rather than because its too hard, you're on the right track. Its is all about being honest with yourself and finding that balance and what works for you. Keep up with it - and don't lose that patience! You don't deserve to be yelled at - especially by yourself! ;)

    1. Haha, did you really? I have NO idea if it's normal? My nether-regions were sore for like 3 days. It was terrible. My feet were okay, but maybe only because I was on my toes a lot the day before in Zumba? Not sure. I know. They all seem to ADORE it, and I was the only one who was totally dying/hating life during the class. I kind of think that's my problem, too. Right now, my general fitness level is so low that it was really terrible to be there... I feel like I want to try it again eventually, after I get my general fitness level up. Probably gonna be awhile, though, since I can't seem to get myself to the gym.

      You know, I haven't tried a yoga class--Zumba was my first group fitness class, and Spin my second. I think I'll give yoga a shot. They have all kinds of yoga at my gym-- power yoga, some other kind of yoga--they even have yoga where you hang from the ceiling on one of those cloth thingys. Sounds dangerous, but maybe I'll try it someday haha. I feel like I would fall, though.

      Yes, not allowing myself to feel like a failure is so important-- especially because for me, when I feel like a failure, I just accept it and say 'well, guess you can't do it.' type thing. Which is a totally terrible way to be, but that's my mentality. I'm not one of those people who is like "I'll show them!" when someone tells me I can't do something, usually I'm more like "Wow, they're probably right." Guess reverse psychology doesn't work on me, haha.

      Thanks for sharing, Mindy! It makes me feel like I"m not alone! :)