My slow return to exercise has been a humbling experience. From endurance to leg strength and flexibility I feel like I’m a novice in many aspects. No, I didn’t lose all of my fitness during injury recovery, but I’m not where I used to be. Not that that place was “ideal,” but go with it. In some ways this is my first time as an “exercise-beginner” because a) this three-month break is the longest I’ve ever taken and b) I don’t particularly remember how I felt when I first started running and cardio-ing in 7th grade.
Last week I took my first studio Spinning class in three months. (For newer readers, I am a certified Spinning instructor and taught weekly classes at my college gym for 3.5 years. I got a sub for most of last semester as I was recovering from my stress fracture). As I adjusted the seat and handle height on my bike I felt like I was being watched by people around me. I didn’t remember all of my settings and had to hop on and off to readjust a few times. I also forgot my Spin shoes (which aren’t required) and I wasn’t wearing my most put-together workout outfit, contrary to everyone else in the class. Then the workout started…let’s just say the entire experience wasn’t as natural or effortless as riding a bike.
My lungs were on fire after 10 minutes and I found myself turning down the resistance more often than up. Honestly, I was discouraged. Logically I knew my endurance was shot, but there was some part of me that hoped it would snap back like Gisele’s post-baby body. Not quite the case. I wanted to quit and leave class many, MANY times. But, like a cliché story, I didn’t quit. LOOK AT ME, I DIDN’T QUIT! YOU CAN DO THIS TOO! #NOEXCUSES!
FYI: “No excuses” is NOT the motto of this post. That phrase drives me crazy.
Well, that’s not the full story. It’s true that I didn’t quit, but it’s also true that the 45 minute Spin class felt like torture. Physically, it was the hardest thing I’ve done in months and I easily could have decided to never return, like, I assume, many first-time exercisers do. Doing something for the first time (ever or after time off) is hard. Getting out of your physical or emotional comfort zone is hard. Having the confidence to not care what other people think is hard.
In a world where it seems like you have to look and act like a fitness professional to even step foot in a gym, starting “from the bottom” seems not only intimidating, but embarrassing. Who wants to pant and sweat when everyone else is effortlessly prancing? (Another FYI: I’ve been on both sides of that wall. Neither is like what it seems). However, I know that this defeating feeling doesn’t last forever. I’ve been on the other side where exercise and movement feel natural. Maybe not effortless, but familiar and almost euphoric. The beginning weeks of forming a habit (any habit) DO pay off. It won’t happen overnight but nothing great ever does, right? END OF CLICHES.
I’ll get back to this place of sweaty, red-faced, endorphin filled, ugly-selfie runs. And you can too….but maybe ditch the last part.
In the meantime, as I build up my fitness, look out for some new at-home Spinning workouts. I have a few here but I always want new music. Also, a post about the highlights of 2015 and what’s ahead in 2016.