If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You.
July 1, 2012.
Before this date, I had not worked out regularly since high school. In college there were a couple runs and an “aerobic dance” class for credit. Since moving to New York five years ago, I’ve tried Physique57, gone to the gym a handful of time and for one month in 2010, I gave Bikram Yoga a try.
To say I was out of shape would be an understatement.
On July 1, 2012, after hearing people talk non-stop about SoulCycle, a friend and I decided to give it a try.
I entered the dark room illuminated only by candles as a complete spinning novice (although SoulCycle is a bit different than your average spin class) and made my way to the back corner of the room and tried to hide.
I spent the next 45 minutes mostly in the seat, even though the class is predominately out of the saddle targeting the core muscles.
I just couldn’t do it.
My legs felt like they were on fire, my head told my body it couldn’t go on and in that back corner, I held my head low and tried to disappear.
This was a big wake-up call. At 26, I was in the worst shape of my life and for a former intense athlete, it felt like a personal fail.
Then a song came on (Eminem’s Lose Yourself) and for those 3+ minutes at the end of class I got out of the saddle, engaged my weak muscles, pushed through, found my inner strength and made it through the entire song on beat with the rest of the class. I left waving my own internal victory flag, came home, and proceed to not be able to move for several days.
It took a full week to recover (I was THAT out of shape), but I finally made it to my second class. And it was a bit easier.
And I learned to hit the beat.
And I didn’t mind the intense sweat during the arm weights.
And I started to understand the meaning of “moving as a pack”.
And I left the ride holding my head a little bit higher.
Former Casey would have thought working out once a week was plenty. But, as is evidence here, former Casey was immensely out of shape. So what did I do? I began riding several times a week, I moved up from the last row to the third row and felt better about myself than I had in years.
Fast forward a couple weeks and I serendipitously accepted a job handling social media and digital marketing at SoulCycle. As part of my training, I would be riding even more, sometimes even twice a day.
This past month has certainly been intense, but I’ve learned what my body is capable of and it has surprised me. In fact, last week I rode front row, a position reserved for those special few who can get through class like a pro.
This was a small little victory for me, but nothing in comparison to what was on the horizon.
Last weekend, I headed east to check out the SoulCycle Hamptons’ studios.
On September 29th, just two days shy of my 3-month SoulCycle anniversary, I took a class at the Bridgehamtpon Barn. My instructor, Ayanna, had recently become one of my favorite instructors following one particular ride where her SOULful words struck a very strong chord and had me in tears of joy.
This past Saturday, Ayanna needed someone to ride the instructor bike, as she had injured her back. Considering I had just recently achieved SoulCycle front row status, I in no way thought it possible for me to climb the podium, hop on the instructor bike and act as the ride leader; however, Ayanna felt differently and believed in me. With her inspirational words, she got me on that bike.
I walked up to the podium, straddled the wheels, clipped in my shoes and surveyed the room of 72 bikes. I locked eyes with several riders, including a couple VIPs, and my stomach did a triple axle back flip. Then Ayanna introduced me to the room and we began.
For the next 45 minutes, I didn’t miss one step. I hit every stride, every push-up, every crunch and every tapback. I turned up the resistance the exact amount, I elongated my spine, never fell off beat and sweat like I never sweat before.
And most importantly, I kept my head held high and maintained a smile from ear to ear (for most of it, at least).
No matter where I looked in the room, eyes were on me. Somehow, in three months I went from backrow hider to instructor bike rockstar. I laid it all out on the bike and in some weird twist of fate, others were looking at my ride as an example. For inspiration. For motivation.
The class ended and there was a round of applause. First for Ayanna. Then for me.
I walked out in a haze of disbelief, shock and bliss.
It’s been three months since I became a SoulCycle devotee and in those 90 days I found strength. I found happiness. I found my soul.
You can’t put a price on that.