Let’s pretend that you and I knew each other, some twenty-odd years ago. Back then, you used a crystal ball to foretell that I would one day teach fitness to hoards of people on bikes that go NOWHERE. Then, I laughed in your face and our friendship ended because I write you off as looney.
The thing is, I was not an athletic child or teenager, and my parents did not encourage me to try sports.
Okay, that’s partially a lie.
I did try tee-ball when I was maybe six, but I hated the dusty field and the relentless sun in my eyes and all the standing around. The only facet of tee-ball I did enjoy was going to the store with my father to buy all the accessories for it: the batting glove, mitt, ball, and my very own tee to practice at home.
If I could have one childhood do-over, I might tell that girl I was not be so afraid of failure, of everything. I would tell her the secret of sports lies in the trying, that no one gets a hit or makes a catch every single time. Maybe that would have been enough to lift her confidence.
Back then, there existed an additional roadblock. I suffered from a kidney condition that went undiagnosed until I was nineteen. This condition meant I basically wet myself if I moved too much. Trampolines were dicey and running in gym class got my heart pounding with anxiety, not exertion.
I remember how often I dreamed of living in a different body, one that functioned normally, one that wouldn’t always embarrass me.
Finally, finally, the kidney issue made me sick enough to warrant diagnosis and surgery. Shortly after, I willingly attempted jogging. I even began to enjoy it.
I like to think that, had things been different, I might have been a decent runner once upon a time, that I could have joined the track team or done cross country. I married into a family of runners and my in-laws like to tell me I’m built like a middle-distance athlete. I want to believe them.
In college, I began going to the gym with a roommate. I realized how much I loved to move.
My love for fitness exploded.
By my mid-twenties, I had met my future husband and we’d moved to New York City. I took cycling classes three or four times a week. I had certain instructors whom I loved and would follow to whatever gyms they were teaching at. One day, there was a substitute who showed up completely unprepared. In that moment, I knew that I could have delivered a better class experience than she did.
I went to indoor cycle training and got hired by a huge gym chain the very next day. Fifteen years later, I still love little more than my family, writing, and choreographing playlists to deliver to my riders.
The pandemic has made so many things tough. I miss being away from the gym and my riders, but I know this pales in comparison to how many people are out of work, the potential for contracting a devastating virus, and the protests and riots happening everywhere. I know my desire to be back on the bike in front of a group, all of us sweating together, is so far down on the list of priorities right now.
Still, I miss it.
Being up on that bike feeds my soul. It delivers me places, even as the apparatus stays rooted in place.
I’ve struggled to find ways to stay connected to my riders, to keep them motivated. I find myself making celebratory-themed playlists in preparation for those first rides back in the gym and then get teary when I listen.
I put daily movement posts up on my social media in the hopes that they connect in some small way. I believe that daily movement is crucial for all of us. We must take care of ourselves so that we can better care for each other and repair the current state of this world.
I won’t lie. I can’t wait to climb back on that bike atop a podium and pretend for the space of a single cycle class that everything is back to normal.
I know that might not ever happen, the “normal” part, but it won’t stop me from looking forward, getting ready. In the meantime, find me over on Spotify under “cwaring2003” if you’re looking for some jams to keep you moving.
Be well, friends.
Photo Credit: Cycle for Survival Boston 2018