Friday, March 6, 2015


How interesting. I came to visit my old blog site, and the date of my last post was exactly 2 years ago. Exactly. I guess I turn to writing mostly in times of transition. That needs to stop. I know this. We'll see how that goes! I'm in one of those times, and I'm also in a reminiscent mood. I'm thinking back over 10 years of teaching and this journey I've been on and how I want to shape the next phase. I remember starting this blog in 2008, when I had to search for other indoor cycling blogs to follow. My intention was to share my music and thoughts on teaching, not the technical side, but the emotional side, the stories that motivate me to hop on the instructor bike and those that keep clients coming to class.  Here's my very first post:

So, I've been teaching Spinning classes for a few years now, and often have these moments during the ride, after or before that make me think, question and want to share. I'm hoping to create this space for this purpose. Yes, some days it will be ego-driven, others will be cute, but it is my intention that most will be purposeful, even inspiring. Sure, I have seen people transform their bodies with hard work both in and out of the room, but it's the emotional connection that keeps me intrigued. What keeps them coming back? Is it simply endorphines, is it the meditative factor of the ride...of, literally, spinning wheels and going nowhere, is it the kick-ass music? I'm sure it's a blend of all of this and more, things I hope to explore in future posts. Oh and then I I just making this all too deep and serious? Maybe. But, I have some pretty cool conversations and have met some amazing people. And, if you'e just visiting for the music, enjoy.

"Leave it on the bike." A good friend and I often say this to each other as we're dealing with something tough in our lives. I can close my eyes, create the circles with my feet, relax my shoulders and really feel all the crap melt away. Inhale and exhale, and it's gone, trailing off somewhere behind me....

Not much has changed and, yet, so much has changed.  Facebook happened for the masses around that time and, with it, an explosion of indoor cycling groups, instructor groups, music sharing groups, fitspo, and blogs of all kinds. The few of us who were Googling to find one another soon became friends in cyberspace and, well, let the games begin. The landscape of indoor cycling has also changed with big-name, celebrity backed, branded boutique studios developing faster than we can say "contraindicated." We feel it. We feel the current changing and the rift between those who drink the "Kool-Aid" and those who do not. While I have been "Spinning®" for a long time, I have not been an instructor nearly as long as those who taught in the beginning, and who are fighting to keep the integrity of a workout they love so much. I stay away from the heated arguments, but I am grateful for those who choose to engage with quality opinions. I learn much.  

Some days, it's tough to turn up the energy to teach. Some weeks, there are many of those days.  I've been thinking about this often. Today, in my smaller-than-usual due-to-weather class, I had a client who just suffered a huge loss in life, and I know it has been difficult for her to find the energy to exercise. It might not be every day, but today, she chose my class. In the craziness of my current life, a message made its way through and I felt a ton of gratitude for all those over the years who have chosen my class and have taken the rides with me.  A little dramatic?  For some, maybe.  But, for others, I know they gain much more from sitting in our rooms than a good sweat. This is what keeps me on the bike. And off. And back on, for as long as I choose. 

Here's today's class.  I pulled out some old ones, just because.  Ryde On.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Birthday Blues 2013

Let's get real personal.  My birthday is next week and I'm just not into it.  I usually don't have this issue, but this year, I'm struggling.  It's not even a milestone, it's another number mixed in with all the other numbers that have come before.  It's just another trip around the sun.  However, I'm overwhelmed with all that is happening in my life. Processing much of it requires a cool-down, but I can't get to the cool down and I end up spinning my wheels in the perpetual motion of going nowhere.  Yes, that pun is intended.

I've always thought of blogging as a narcissistic hobby, so I try to reserve this space for things not too personal.  It started as a place to share my music and schedule for those who asked and wanted to follow me around. Then, for some reason, people seemed to like what I have to say.  I don't do it much and when I do, I like the focus to be there and not here.  So, when I'm traveling a rough road, I tend to go silent.  Here's the deal: My stuff is no different than your stuff.  This year, I may have more, next year you may have more.  You don't need to read about mine to get through yours.  I don't need to write about my details in a public place to understand them.  However, what I feel I need to say is that I GET IT.  I get it all.  I am with you, wherever you are.  I get what it feels like to ask the big questions about life and love and come up with nothing.  I get what it's like to be driving past a wedding party outside a church, the glowing bride's while gown blowing in the breeze, and have to hold myself back from screaming, "DON'T DO IT!!!" out the open window.  I get heartache. I get what it's like to sit across the table from a crying friend with a blank stare because I don't have the answers, because the older I get, the less I feel like I know for sure.  I get what it's like to have a medicine bag of self-help tools (that really do work), only to leave it collecting dust on the shelf in favor of 3 hours of shitty reality TV and a glass(es) of wine.  I get what it's like to be sinking chest deep in the cliche of a mid-life crisis, being jealous of the idealism of those younger than me, turning around and looking behind me wondering "where the fuck did mine go?"  Yet, I also know what it feels like to look down that same road and say, "look what I've created, look what I've pushed through."  It may not be perfect, but it's mine.  I know what it's like to read an essay my 14-year old son wrote about me and see, in print, that he GOT it, that everything I have been trying to do for him and his brother (so far), I have done.  I know what it feels like to be "in the groove," as I call it.  It feels like when the needle hits that vinyl album in just the right spot and doesn't skip at all.  Everything flows, all the right notes come rushing in and the sound is so so sweet.  I know what it's like to still have some of that youthful idealism to hug.  I know that life ebbs and flows and it will all come around again and my tools will be put to good use, becoming stronger for the next time I need them.  Like on the bike, maybe it really is all about training and practice. Maybe I know more than I think I do.  Huh.

Vent over.  Phew.  If you're still here, let's talk indoor cycling.  I recently taught a charity class for Relay For Life.  We lit luminarias, rode "for more birthdays," and celebrated life and love.  It wasn't any larger or longer than any other Thursday morning at 9:15 am, but there was a spirit in that room that I've never experienced in all my years of teaching.  That playlist is below, along with one that took another Thursday morning to an entirely different place.  To the client who said to me this week, "I just always feel so good after your classes, you really touch people," thank YOU.  This is why I do all the things I do. xo Jen 

Relay For Life 2013

Little Old, Little New, Much Mashed

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Ever been obsessed with a playlist?  Sometimes it happens to me.  It's happening now.  I'll admit it, there are many nights when I'm scrambling to put together music for the next morning's class or recycling an old ride. Because I only teach at one studio, and am blessed to have clients who take more than one of my classes a week, I try to keep it fresh, and can not get away with frequently repeating playlists and profiles. Other times, I'm prepared in advance and have the time to completely absorb the music and purpose of the class. This is one of those times.

When I was approached about doing an all acoustic ryde, I immediately said "yes," and then felt a little regret.  It was not the kind of "I shouldn't have made out with that guy in my tequila-induced bliss" regret, just a little reservation about making it work.  In an indoor cycling class, there is just something about a driving bass beat that you can FEEL in your body...surrendering into it transports you anywhere else than on this nowhere-going bike.  Not every song I use in class is my taste, but I usually have a pretty good feel for what is going to work on the bike.

Always up for a challenge, I scoured my library for all of the acoustic music I own, reached out to my FB friends for suggestions and did an iTunes search of all things "acoustic," "unplugged," "sessions" and "stripped."   It worked.  I think I've put together a great class.  Regardless, I've put together a great playlist.  It's been on permanent repeat in the car, on the computer and in my headphones as I'm writing this.  I love it.

Naturally, I've been thinking about why this is.  I've always had a love affair with unplugged, stripped-down music.  There's something just honest and raw and emotional about it.  There's no hiding behind studio magic.  It's REAL.  Well, it's as real as it gets in our technological culture. I think the idea of clearing out the extraneous noise and shedding layers is also part of why I love teaching so much.  Life outside the cycle room can be very complicated.  For everyone, this complication wears a different mask and has a different reason for it's existence.  Life inside the room is very simple.  It's simple because it's stripped down.  We are individuals but, at the same time, sharing an experience.  The differences in our lives tend to blur in a fog of endorphins, sweat, pedals and music.  The metaphorical playing field becomes even.  The client who drove up in the flashy sports car is climbing with the client who could only afford to come because of a special we are running.  The client who is cheating on her husband is sweating next to the woman whose husband had an affair and left her for another woman.  I may not choose to be your friend outside (or inside) of the room, and we may have different end results in sight, but we can work together.  We do work together. You know it when it happens.  You can feel it.

Since I started writing this post, I taught the acoustic class.  Yes, it was harder to pull up the energy than with traditional indoor cycling music, but I observed it transporting the class in a different way.  It's hard to describe, but it was all a little deeper and heavier.  I coached them to stay "in front" of the music instead of letting it "pull" them through the ride.  A day or 2 after the class, a few regulars told me that they were sore, more than usual.  I think the nature of the music encouraged a slower cadence (more resistance) on flat roads, and....whatdoyouknow?  They worked a little harder...imagine that.  

Lately, I've been reluctant to write out profiles here, because I now teach exclusively on RealRyder® bikes, so there's a little more involved, and I tend to teach "on the fly" more often, incorporating bike movement into the "feel" of the class.  However, for this one, I'll give it a shot.  Even if it's not for a full acoustic class, I love using these songs here and there.  I invite you to strip down, gear up, and see where it takes you.  xo Jen

1. Lay Me Down (Stripped) (4:32)/Graffiti6
Warm-Up: Seated flat with some slight turns. Standing flat to push out of the WU.

2. Trouble (Acoustic) (3:03)/P!nk Trouble (Sessions@AOL) - Single
Seated Climb: Holding longer turns side-to side, tapping up resistance during the left-hand turns.
One of my old favorite P!nk songs.  Not sure if it's still available.

3. Out of My Head (Acoustic Version) [Bonus Track] (3:54)/Theory of a Deadman
Standing Climb (3rd): Breakaways @ chorus.

4. What the Hell (Acoustic Version) (3:41)/Avril Lavigne
Seated flat off of the hill climb. Incorporate some short turns, depending on how the 
class is feeling to me.

5. Harder To Breathe (3:10)/Maroon 5 (1.22.03 Acoustic [EP])
Light incline (run) out of the saddle, hands in #2, top of bars. Standing turns.
Old one back from when I thought these guys were good. Great rhythm.

6. All Through the Night (4:41)/Cyndi Lauper & Shaggy  (The Body Acoustic)
Seated climb up to breakaways in a standing climb at the chorus. I do a visual here, in
which the class tries to catch a rider up ahead of them, taking a left turn to "go around"
the rider at the top of the interval.

7. Dynamite (iTunes Session) (3:59)/Taio Cruz
Seated flat, straight road, working harder (by adding resistance and/or increasing 
cadence) every 60 seconds (or so) moving from an RPE of 8 to 8.5 to 9.

8. Misery Business (Acoustic Version) (3:14)/Paramore
Standing climb, holding cadence on the quick side. No resistance or cadence increases.
One of those angry girl songs. Loooove this version.

9. Buster Voodoo (4:24)/Rodrigo y Gabriela
Flat road, incorporating turns and lifts out of the saddle, high RPE
Thanks to my girl, Dani, for this one.

10. Glycerine (Acoustic) (3:33)/Bush
Drop RPE, Seated climb/turns. Increasing resistance.
Old 90's fav. 

11. Chasing Cars (Exclusive Live Acoustic Version) (4:31)/Snow Patrol 
Standing straight climb, all about resistance...increasing 3 times to the top.

12. (Stronger) What Doesn't Kill You (iTunes Session) (3:25)/Kelly Clarkson
13. Some Nights (iTunes Session) (4:26)/Fun.
Flat road intervals (90 sec. each).  Some variation of the following: starting at RPE 8, take 2 turns (15 sec. each, 30 sec. total), drop to aero bars, hold straight in the saddle while increasing RPE to 8.5 (30 sec.), take RPE to a 9 while pushing out of the saddle on a standing flat (may add some turns here) (30 sec).  Recover for 30 sec. and repeat.
Fun.'s entire iTunes Session is great.  

14. Where the Streets Have No Name (Unplugged) (4:30)/30 Seconds to Mars
Final climb to the finish line. In the moment finish...however I feel like bringing it
home. Probably start as a seated climb and move to standing with increasing cadence.

15. Everlong (Acoustic Version) (4:11)/Foo Fighters
16. Sunday Morning  (4:15)/Maroon 5 1.22.03 Acoustic [EP]
17. Stuck in a Moment (Acoustic) (3:42)/U2

Monday, January 14, 2013


I was looking through the archives of my music library and came across the song "Energy" by the Apples in Stereo, which I used to use as a warm-up for class.  I think about (and feel) energy all the time.  All.the.time.  It's been this way since I was a child.  I guess I'm one of those fine-tuned Pisces who has a permanent antenna.  This creates the need for me to crawl into a cave every so often, to turn down the volume of the world.  It's been a journey for me to try to understand and work with it.  I used to hate it, often wishing that I wasn't so sensitive.  Then, a mentor and friend offered me another perspective and I began to look at it as a gift, as a way to work positively in the world instead of viewing it as a weakness or burden.

I basically live a yin/yang kind of life.  In the past, when people asked me what I "do," I used to struggle with the answer, primarily because I didn't even know how to reconcile it within myself.  In the Cycle Studio, I'm the coach, the motivator, the energy raiser and it's LOUD.  On the other side of the wheel, I'm a Reiki Master and counselor.  I've spent years studying psychology, counseling, meditation techniques, world religions, and, yes, energy.  I will help guide you to the most quiet and peaceful place you've experienced.  On the surface, it's the ultimate polarity.  Underneath, it's really all just energy, utilized in different ways.  I work with energy.  Now, it's simple.

I'll spare you the quantum physics side of this discussion.  Partially because it's so popular right now, and partially because I haven't solidified my beliefs about it all.  However, it appears that I am raising a physicist, as my 14 year-old son likes to tell me. So, our future dinnertime conversations should be beyond interesting.  Example: he turned to me the other day and said, "Mom, why did humanity even happen?" (ummm?)  But, I digress.  Whether clients come through the door for a cycle class or a healing session, I feel the outside world attached to them.  It's kind of like an aura, but not really.  Imagine hundreds of Post-It-Notes stuck all over your body...the writing on them from decades of socialization, both positive and negative.  Some you've internalized, some are brand spankin' new.  My personal goal, as an instructor, is to get you to a place where the adhesive melts away, allowing them to fall off into glorious sparkling little puddles all over the floor.

Yup, this isn't much of an indoor cycling post, but I bring it all up because, like many of us, I've been struggling with my own energy balance.  The output in my life has been heavily outweighing the input, and this needs to change.  I'm an all or nothing kind of girl, and balance has been one of my greatest lessons.  As teachers, athletes, parents or whatever other role you embrace (or not), how do you find it?  I'm always working on it.  Last summer, because I was so tapped out, I took a 5-day retreat to re-connect with myself and the earth and to do a workshop.  I lived alone in a tent/cabin in the woods, ate and drank super-clean and had some profound experiences.  I was in marathon training (yes, for the famous 2012 NYC race that never happened), but I only ran once.  I love running, but my soul was just not in it that week.  Instead, I danced.  Every.Single.Day.  I was in the workshop for hours, but didn't speak (at all) in the large group until day 4.  I felt jealous of the people at lunch with laminated cards reading, "IN SILENCE" hanging on pieces of yarn around their necks.  Me?  Kinda' crazy full of energy always talking me?  Yep. Overall, it was a glorious week.  However, when I descended back through the turbulence to reality, it was the first time in all my years of teaching that I didn't know if I could get on the bike.  Seriously.  It was tough.  Our studio is on the water and I found myself driving right to the edge of the lot, sitting in my car for 10 minutes, staring at the horizon trying to find the energy to teach.  I did not want to share it.  It was all mine, like a faucet had been filling me for days and I really really did not want to flip it around.

I'm not a believer in resolutions, but I do know what needs to be done for me this year.  Do you?  Look, I'm the one in the front of the class, I'm the one leading the breathwork and meditation, but we're really all in this together...on a journey, finding some shards of bliss along the way.  Yeah, I taught that class, and I'm sharing the playlist I used that day.  The only way it was happening was if I got a little "earthy," which I did.  My soul is in this one.  Enjoy. xo Jen

P.S. I adore The Lumineers (almost as much as Grouplove).

Monday, January 7, 2013

What's on My Mind

Seriously.  My posts have been pretty serious lately.  A few months ago, I read (and shared on facebook) the following:  Inner Monologue of a Spin Class Student.  It made me laugh, remembering the days of being a student and, now, re-visiting that perspective as an instructor.  So, I was bored (a fleeting feeling that must be grabbed when it arrives) and decided to give it my own twist.  I offer my advance apologies if anyone has already done it, if I offend anyone, or it just sucks. Also I'm not looking for any responses from my students (please).  I'm just looking to lighten it up a bit and hopefully elicit a few hundred smiles.  Welcome 2013.  I hope we'll be friends.

Inner Monologue of an Indoor Cycling Instructor Me:

Yup, I'm gonna' kick this class' ass.  I wonder how many bikes will be filled.  Last week's numbers were pretty good.  Why isn't anyone here yet?  Is there something going on with the kids?  Is it camp visiting weekend?  Do I suck?  Shit.  What if last week sucked?  What if all those mash-ups were NOT a good idea.  Note to self:  classic rock.  Classic.Rock next week.  Yeah.  Oh wait, phew.  Here they come.  Sa-weet.  Bikes filling with regulars.  Nice.  Hello.  Hello.  Did last week suck?  No?  Good.  Great. That's great.  Seriously, how many times have you taken my class and you STILL need me to set up your bike for you?  But I still love you, I really doooo.  Ok, two minutes 'till class starts, strong riders up front.  Yeah.  This is going to ROCK!  Uh oh.  2 newbies. I love new students, but I hate set-ups.  I hate hate set ups.  I hate hate hate set ups when my class is JUST about to start.  Even better, first time in cycling shoes.  Can't clip in.  Where the hell is someone to help me set these guys up? Come ON. Now my class is starting late.  I HATE starting late and I HATE that some people have been here for 10 minutes and now I'm starting late.  Oh good, help has arrived.  Thanks.  SO grateful.  Cue warm-up music, safety check (I feel like a flight attendant), give a run down of the profile and hit the road.  Awesome.  Everybody looks awesome.  I love these people.  Clipped in, feeling good.  Wait.  Ugh.  Should not have done that last tequila shot last night.  Nope.  Should not have. Note to self: no tequila the night before teaching and no garlic either.  Crap.  Don't breathe on the person in front of you.  Don't spit either.  Gross.  That was gross.  Stop thinking about gross things and teach the class.  Am I BOUNCING?  Add resistance.  Do I have too much inappropriate cleavage today?  That's bad.  Nope, all good...I think.  Crap. This song SUCKS.  Note to self: Don't use this song again.  Quick, think of something fun to do to distract them from this AWFUL song.  What was I thinking?  It sounded so much better in my headphones at home.  Turn, turn, lift, sit, turn, turn.  Damn, I'm so glad I'm on a RealRyder®.  What would I do if I had to teach on other bikes?  What would I do if I couldn't MOVE the bike?  Ugh.  These runs are hard.  My quads are on FIRE.  Damn you RealRyder®. Time to hop off and do some coaching off the bike.  Yeah.  All good. I love when the class turns in unison.  They look so cool.  Even the newbies are doing awesome.  I knew they'd get it.  They've even started to stand up.  Give them some love. I feel like a proud momma.  I am a proud momma.  What do my kids have going on this week?  Ugh.  How am I going to get everyone where they need to be and work at the same time.  Ummmm your CLASS?  Oh yeah, I'm teaching class.  Haha.  Don't worry, I'm back.  Shit.  I just said turn to the windows when I meant (and pointed to) the wall, AGAIN.  They think it's funny. I don't.  Well, it really is, but why do both words have to start with W anyway?  Anyway.  Did I just SAY THAT??  OMG, did I just say that last thing OUT LOUD?? *blushing* Taken out of context, that sounds HIGHY inapproprate.  The front desk is probably laughing their asses off and Kim is going to comment about it.  Don't look at her and STOP laughing. It only makes it worse.  Are her boobs fake (not Kim's)?  He's cute.  Married.  Why does he ride with so.much.resistance every.single.time?  And that one, he's too damn fast.  God, I hope he doesn't unclip.  Say something general and see if it helps.  Aaaaand....nope.  Cadence check?  Ick.  I hate cadence checks, but they are helpful.  Alright, a quick one. But the next class I'm doing a whole section on cadence...AND Tabatas.  Damn,  I'm sweating. A LOT.  Drink something.  You should probably wash this mic windscreen.  Soon.  Wait!  This song is AMAZING, bilssfully perfectly amazing, like it was created just for ME and my classes.  Don't sing.  Don'tsingdon'tsingdon'tsing.  Holy shit, no, the room is literally vibrating with energy.  And that last breakaway I threw in was accidentally perfectly timed with the music.  I LOVE when that happens.  I'm so good I didn't even plan it and it STILL happens.  Endorphins are better than tequila.  Fuck yeah.  This is why I do this.  Breathe.  Remember that time that student yelled out, "this is better than ecstacy?"  Yeah.  You need to use that song again.  Soon.  Was this too hilly?  Who cares, we're pushing through it in a beautiful unison of energy, bodies and sweat.  Crossing the finish line and everyone did such an amazing job.  I love my job.  I couldn't do it without the amazing energy of these people. It's like a know? I know you know.  Just don't talk during the stretch and we'll be good.  Inhale your arms up overhead, exhale them down, inhale your biggest breath of the day and acknowledge all the hard work you did today.  Exhale.  Clap. Clap. ROCK.STARS.

And a playlist:

xo Jen

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Long December

So, I've been shoulder-deep in a few of my favorite things this holiday season.  No, I don't mean in the Julie Andrews, "raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..." kind of way.  While I can completely see myself spinning on a gorgeous green hillside somewhere, you already know the type of "spinning" I'm talking about.

I'm one of those people who struggles through the pre-holiday madness, who only begins to see the beauty of the season somewhere around 11:59 pm on December 24th.  I'll spare you the internet dirty laundry, but let's just say "Long December" by the Counting Crows (remember that one) was on repeat as my theme song for the month, more than once. I'm not exaggerating when I say the lyrics marked the margins of my graduate school notebooks in 1996.  That year was only to be outdone by December 2003 and a milder version again in 2008. Yeah, I pretty much approach the whole month with a slight PTSD that only begins to fade after that shiny ball drops in Times Square. 

At the same time, I'm a believer in change so, with lots of support, I look to this season as a time of introspection and self-exploration, and I am willing to embrace whatever lessons come my way.  As humans, I think, we are faced with a greater contradiction during this time of year than any other.  Instinctually, winter is a time of darkness, solitude, hibernation, quiet, and a looking forward to the return of the light.  I feel the natural pull, within myself, to close the shutters, curl up in the ultimate comfort zone, reflect and BE still.  Yet, our culture asks us to be busy, to take the idea of "giving" to a frenzied state, to entertain and be entertained.  We are challenged to put energy OUT, when we naturally want to be IN.  

This year has been no different.  The energetic imbalance I usually feel in myself was only compounded by the difficult events I discussed in my last post. However, sometime around 8:00 pm on Christmas Eve, I was sitting at a warm local bar with a close friend, a glass of wine and sweetness and laughter.  I looked out the huge front window, framed in tiny white lights and saw that it was snowing, falling in feathery flakes on the quiet street.  It was a perfectly beautiful moment, requiring a deep breath and the knowledge that there was nothing left to do...but BE.  The older I get, the less I feel like I know for sure, but I do know to stop and enjoy those moments, because the web that is created by linking them together is truly where joy exists.  

Over the last few weeks, I had just decided to feel good (YES!).  I scheduled and put together classes that challenge and appeal to me.  It's the only way I've been able to pull up the energy to teach at the level I expect from myself.  While an evil head-cold has given me an extra challenge, I think it's all worked out okay great.  I kicked it off by teaching class with a live DJ.  I didn't know the music and had no profile planned, but it was probably the most fun I've ever had in the room...letting go, teaching on the fly, and owning the confidence that it was going to be awesome.  Additionally, I created 4 new classes of my favorites, and I'm sharing those playlists today.  Think of it as an "End of 2012 Library of Favorites and All Things FeelGood."  Playlist number 1 is some of the favorite music I added to my teaching library this year.  It was edited down from 3 hours.   Number 2 is my favorite mash-ups that I added this year.  Number 3 is my annual "Countdown" Class, in which I teach to iTunes top sellers of the year (in order), even if I don't like them.  It's always a challenge, and a hilly one this year.  Finally, number 4 is a newbie on the holiday block...a New Year's Eve Class to the music of Pitbull (and friends).  Hot.

Wishing all of you in the indoor cycling land, and beyond, an amazing 2013!  May you all find your moments.  Cheers!



2012 iTUNES COUNTDOWN RYDE (#15 is the top seller, #16 is cool-down)


Sunday, December 16, 2012


It's difficult to believe that it has happened twice in less than 2 months.  I taught 2 classes on the Thursday morning after Hurricane Sandy destroyed our neighborhoods. Then, yesterday, I taught 2 classes on Saturday morning after the unfathomable happened just across the Long Island Sound in Connecticut.  They were 2 very different occurrences,  but both placed me in a similar circumstance.

People come to my indoor cycling classes for various reasons.  Of some of them, I am aware. Of some I'm not.  Some come to simply sweat out last night's indulgences. Some come to clear their minds, for just an hour, of an overwhelming life circumstance, such as the illness of a child (true story).  Most people fall somewhere on the continuum between these two extremes.  Because I don't know the specific needs of every student who clips into a bike, I try to create a generalized blend of positivity, encouragement, humor, and my own variation of meditation in motion.  Just like in other "groups" I've led, I encourage (and expect) people to use what works for them and leave behind what does not.

Yet, teaching after a tragedy, such as the ones we have recently experienced, can be awkward.  The positivity seems trite.  The words seem empty and the distance I see in our clients' eyes tells me they are just not present.  I don't expect them to be.  After Sandy, for some inexplicable reason, we were the only neighborhood group fitness facility who had power.  Our outlets were overflowing with webs of cords and chargers, plugged into the only available form of communication.  Our classes were packed.  Our clients came through the door, layered, bundled and shivering after another cold night in their dark homes, grateful for our hot showers.  There were no towels, as the owner of our delivery service lost his home in Breezy Point.  On that Thursday, I knew (and was told) people needed our classes to help them detach and allow their endorphins to de-stress them, even for just a little while.  I knew what to say.  It was a gift to teach that day, and we were very grateful to be open to assist that process.

Yesterday was different.  I had no idea what to say.  There was nothing to say.  Every positive sentence felt (and still does) like it hung in the air with some indescribable inappropriateness.  Almost every one of us in that room was a mother or father.  Newtown is exactly like our towns.  I've only watched a few short minutes of news this weekend, but when I did, it was like looking into the faces of our own community.  As we came together Saturday morning, we were already breathless with the heaviness of what happened.

My playlists were done earlier in the week and I didn't have time to change them.  So, I went in and just taught what I had planned.  Just taught.  I didn't think or say much about it.  I hoped, as always, that I created a space for the class to experience whatever they were going to experience and leave it at that.  That was my choice.

Admittedly, I haven't been able to untangle my own thoughts.  My brain feels like all those knotted charging cords after Sandy, but without the plug-in.  How do I begin to process this?  How can I reconcile my natural, logical desire to have answers with the emotional, heart wrenching empathy I feel as a mother, as a human being. I have not engaged in the debates on social media, as I see so many layers to the issues, so many questions that will, inevitably, remain unanswered.  Yet, I have the desire to DO something more.

Much like in the cycle room yesterday, my personal choice, I realize, has been to just be IN it, moment-to-moment.  For now, I have created the space to experience the be angry, to be sad, to stare at my children in disbelief and feel a tiny bit of guilt that I get to hug them tonight, and, finally, to notice all the small but glorious shining moments of awareness, light and absolute sweetness that have still occurred over the past 48 hours.  Conflicted? Yes.  Blessed? Yes.  Teaching tomorrow? You bet.

Somewhat poetically, yesterday's music was also a bit of a departure from my normal vibe, with much more rock tossed in.  Classic.  Ryde on, friends.