I tried. I really did. I could hear the pounding music right next door to my barre studio. The cycle barre had just opened and some riders who had just finished streamed in for a back to back spin-to-barre class. They looked flushed, tired and… exhilarated. “It was like a party in there!” they gushed. As a gusher myself, I fall for gushing. So after my barre class I marched over and joined the cycle studio. Downloaded the app and signed up for class the next day.
I’d only ever done one spin class, 5 years ago when my daughter was an instructor in Seattle. It had been fun, mainly because, shrouded in darkness in the very back row, I kept thinking ‘that’s my kid up there!’ motivating and pumping up the riders, turning them inward during the meditation time, then working them back up to whoops and applause at the end. I’d enjoyed it but had never done it again. Now I wanted in on this new party.
The night before my first ride I tossed and turned, crazy dreams of falling off the bike, being trapped and not being able to unclip my shoes invading my sleep. I knew that with my arthritis-wracked wrists and hips I was taking a risk but I also knew I could go at my own pace, stay in the saddle and not have to do the up and down moves that are a signature of spinning.
And the first ride wasn’t too bad. The stats on the app said I finished 19thout of 24. Who are those 5 others behind me I wondered. I felt more confident that I’d found a way to supplement my five-day-a-week barre classes with a two-day-a-week cycling class that would give me some much-needed cardio. My body would adjust and I’d get better, stronger, healthier.. ‘I DID IT!’ reverberated through my brain and I was glowing on the inside. I was just so damn proud of myself What’s that old Bible saying?… Pride goeth before the fall?
The next day I woke up with different aches and pains than I was used to. Arthritics have notoriously high pain tolerance but these were different. My back hurt. My knees hurt. These were new and troubling. ‘Listen to your body’ is a common mantra in pilates and barre classes but I ignored it. My body will adapt I told myself. Only it didn’t.
Back at home, after my second and my third rides, I was doubling up on the Tylenol arthritis-strength and rubbing in Voltaren on my wrists and back several times a day. The pain persisted, however. My barre practice began to suffer. I could not stay in a move as long as usual, couldn’t get as far down in chair-position. Worst of all, the mornings that I was supposed to ride, I woke up with a sense of dread. I LOVE my barre classes, but I HATED the spin classes. Something had to change.
I am not a quitter. I have always considered quitting as a personal sign of weakness, of failure. Chalk it up to a mother who never let us quit a job, no matter how much we hated it, until we had another one. But this was not a job. This was exercise that was supposed to be good for me and make me a better person but instead was exacting a terrible toll on my body and my mind. What I had thought would make me a stronger, more powerful version of myself was instead diminishing me.
The riders still come in after spinning to take barre. I admire them and would be lying if I didn’t admit I envy them a bit. But this just didn’t work out for me. I had to listen to my body AND to my gut and know this time I had to say ‘I quit.’