I don’t have to force myself to go to spin class. I have to force myself to stay there. Pushed to physical limits by the trainers leading the class, something happens to me. I inadvertently activate my dormant spoiled-brat alter ego, into an infantile state of mind in which I almost feel infringed upon. To keep myself from leaving, I curse, gnarl, and whine inside of my mind. Being internally caustic helps me release the demons somehow.
Here is it how it goes. The trainer motivates us, while my internal dialogue rages.
“You can do it! Resistance up as high as you can take it, now pedal fast as you can! Come on!” says the trainer.
“Keep those legs sprinting! Push through the pain!” the way-too-happy trainer insists. She didn’t mean sprint, I know this, because I have declared today Opposite Day. How nice it is, pedaling slowly while everyone else is in a flat spin. I’m leaving after this next song. Really. How dignified I feel being a non-conformist. I can go at this anti-speed as long as I want, exercising independence instead and defying unrealistic expectations, while everyone else is mindlessly pedaling away. One of them is bound to topple over. Silly people, just pedaling away. Everyone here, doing what they’re told. Everyone else, still going. Everyone else, everyone else…is everyone else then tougher than me?
“Okay, slow down and take a break now”, the trainer catches her breath and takes a sip of water. When do we sprint again? Excuse me, can we sprint again? I came here to work, that’s what I’ve got to do. I’ve had my silent tantrum, I’ve cursed you during our internal dialogue, and now I’m ready to pretend no one else is in the room and work. I promise, I’ll work and prove that I’m tough, too. It’s just that, everyone else here, their reasons and motivations and own levels of ability, it just throws me off. I will stay out of my head and inside my core. Okay? Can we sprint already? I’m, like, really sorry for pedaling slowly when I was supposed to be going fast.
“Okay, ready everyone? We’re doing five minutes of rolling hills!” the trainer warns. Ooohhh, I LOVE rolling hills! Check the clock. I only lost ninety seconds to two minutes during my silent tantrum. Say, fifty calories I had the potential to burn if only I were tougher – stop! – get out of your head. I’m rolling, I’m rolling…
“Remember, if this is too much for you, take the resistance down a bit. It’s your class, go at your own pace!” affirms the trainer. My own pace? Why the **** didn’t you say so? What is my own pace, anyway…if not to surpass everyone else, is it to beat my own best, or worst, effort yet? Could be, that is exactly what I’m doing…
When I leave spin class – after the trainer has called us off our bikes or down to stretch – it’s like I’ve worked a lot more than the abs, biceps, or quads. I’ve beat my own worst self with a better part of me, but not even that – I stayed in motion.
That’s a victory in itself. And that’s how I roll.