From the BMX Park to Spin Class Certification—What a Weird Weekend!
This was a weird weekend for me and I’m still kind of processing everything about it! On Friday, we headed back to Joyride150 so Peter could coach some sessions while I worked on the jumplines, and then we’d work together for a while trying to get me more comfortable and confident (and airborne). Then, on Sunday I headed to Toronto to do a spin instructor certification through Schwinn.
So, to say that the two were very, very different sides of cycling would be more than accurate. But both were fun in their own ways. I’ll take jumplines over a spin class any day, but it definitely was eye-opening to be there… And I am actually pretty excited about the possibility of potentially doing some teaching in the spin studio. It will not be perky—more in line with punk rock spin than anything else—but I think I can make a fun class.
I wanted to just put together a few things I learned from the weekend:
You Can Do More Than You Think
This session came on the heels of an interview with Alex Hutchinson about his new book, “Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.” Perfect timing. We had him on the podcast (and you can listen here!) and touched on the fact that sometimes, we need to trick our brains and redefine what hard or impossible means. He talks about his breaking 4 minutes in the 1500 meter run after a coach timed him wrong. After he broke it once, it was easy to run under 4 minutes, a previously impossible feat. For me, that was jumping: This time in the park, I finally figured out the actual motion to get air when on the jump line. On purpose, not just as an accidental feat of momentum. Once I got it the first time, it got a lot easier. So… redefine impossible or hard.
It’s OK to be Scared
Super secret admission #1: I am TERRIFIED in the BMX park.
No joke, after a few runs, I have to take breaks (Peter will point out that everyone takes breaks between runs, but still) because I am shaking like a leaf. This $hit is scary for me! That’s OK, though. Pro tip: if you go to a bike park, try to get there right when the park opens versus the afternoon when school is out, so you can have the place mostly to yourself. Having the time there without many people around made it so much easier for me! But it’s still freaking scary. That’s OK.
Go at your own pace. Take breaks. And don’t ignore things like shaking: even if your body isn’t tired, your central nervous system can easily get overloaded.
Spin Class is Freaking Competitive
Super secret admission #2: I am a competitive jerk.
My original plan, since we were hanging out with friends for dinner after the course, was to sandbag the spin sessions during the instructor training. And then, we started. There is literally NO way to tell who is going harder, or who is putting out more watts, and none of these women are cyclists. Only 2 are wearing bike shorts (I KNOW. I KNOW.). But still… I suddenly had this intense urge to destroy all of them. So, I was a little gross at dinner. And more enlightening, no one gave a single $hit about how hard I worked or that I was super sweaty. Everyone was high fiving, no one was winning. It was a bizarre moment, realizing that for 99.9% of people, cycling / spinning isn’t a competition with anyone but yourself. But for me, it was the hardest I had gone in a loooong time and reminded me how hard I work when racing. Guess what? My intervals on the trainer solo were not that hard. Now, I know what it takes to actually push.
It’s OK to Lean Into the Cheese-Factor
Super secret admission #3: My internal dialogue during the demo spin session at the end of the course.
Instructor: “Visualize a backpack filled with the things that are weighing you down in life.”
Me: *Rolls eyes*
Instructor, as the beat gets louder: “Now, visualize taking one of those things out of the backpack and throwing it to the ground, leaving it behind.”
Me still rolling eyes: Seems like littering.
Instructor, as beat gets faster: “Now, you’re taking out the next thing. This is a big one. Can you let it go and leave it behind?”
Me, suddenly basically crying and going anaerobic: “Say goodbye, Self Doubt!”
…It was embarrassing to realize that there is in fact a reason that so many people go to spin classes. While I have no intention of teaching that style—get ready for Punk Rock Spin, Collingwood!—it definitely struck a chord with me, and I can understand how it would hold such a huge appeal for so many people. Until this session, I’ve mainly done cheap-ass spin classes at the YMCA/Planet Fitness-style places with cringe-worthy instructors.
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