By Jennifer Shannon, LMFT
Spin is my least favorite workout, but nevertheless I pushed myself out of bed this morning and headed to the Parkpoint Club for Lana’s early morning spin class. Even though spin is hard for me, it delivers the biggest endorphin high of any exercise, and after all I’d been through, I needed it. But today, that high seemed many, many miles away.
Just minutes into the class, my body felt really heavy and I couldn’t catch my breath. Lana called for a hill climb, which meant increasing the gear tension. That by itself was intense, but on top of that Lana shouted out to increase the gears by 3, then down by 1, then up by 3 again. This meant that I had to add and subtract in my head while pushing my body to its limits, and since my home burned down in the fire, my brain function has been compromised.
I made a veiled complaint, disguised as a joke about how the math was too hard for me. Lana, on her infinite wisdom said, to the entire class, “Everyone has been effected by this fire and it takes a toll on the body. The smoke has affected our lungs and the stress has affected our heart rates. Go easy on yourselves and listen to your body. It’s your ride”
Lana was right. I’d been working myself too hard, trying to meet expectations that didn’t apply to me in the moment. My ideas of what I should be able to do were ruining my experience of what I could do. The next time Lana instructed us increase the gear tension, I decreased it. When she said three gears I did two (easier to count to and not as physically challenging). Honoring my own body this way, I felt a growing sense of freedom and ease. Before long, I was actually enjoying spin class.
Afterwards as I left the gym, I began to review my plans for the day, and immediately I felt the tug and pressure of the should and the expectations. But wait, I thought. it’s all my ride, every minute of the day!
THE PICTURE TELLS A STORY
The bike shorts were lent to me by Lana the instructor right before class.
The tank top is something I gave to my daughter a year ago that she gave back to me after the fire.
The shoes are actually what I wore out of the house during the fire.
As a therapist and author who specializes in stress and anxiety, and has lost my home in the Santa Rosa fire, I am writing this blog to remind myself of the powerful tools I use in my practice with my clients. If It helps others to deal with their own challenges, nothing would please me more.