You could say that I wouldn’t include exercising in my list of top 10 (or maybe even 20) favorite things to do, to put it mildly. The first time I went to the gym, I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the machine I wanted to use, so I just calmly stepped off it and walked out of the gym. I didn’t return to the gym until a couple months later. In fact, I probably went to the gym five times during my entire sophomore year.
So when I decided to sign up for a cycling class at the George Washington University, I had my doubts. GWU allows students to take Lifestyle, Sport and Physical Activity (LSPA) classes each semester. These one credit classes, which don’t count towards your graduation credits, give us a chance to stay active and healthy. I found taking a simple cycling class that doesn’t harm my GPA very inviting. I knew this would serve as a great opportunity to keep active during the semester, since god knows that I don’t go to the gym on a daily basis. A couple of my friends back home regularly take a cycling class at a Soul Cycle-type place, and they seemed to enjoy the experience. If they could do it, then I could do it. No big deal. Right?
I’ve tried to work out in the past, I really have. I made a playlist of workout videos on YouTube, spending 30 minutes of my day watching and trying to recreate the workouts. That lasted about two weeks. I tried to use the treadmill in my basement every other day. That lasted a week. I guess you can say that I lack motivation, and I give up too easily.
As I am in my daily life, I’ve been insecure in my body. As a big-chested, size six girl with acne problems, working out in front of others makes me self-conscious. I always think about what others probably think of me. “Look at how awkward she looks jogging in the field!” “Wow, she’s so slow!” “Ew, look at how sweaty and ugly she looks right now!” Would cycling class continue that cycle of insecurity?
Just try it out, I tell myself. How bad can it be? If you don’t like it, you can always drop out. Just be a quitter like you normally are with athletic stuff, and you’ll be fine.
On the first day, I nervously walked into the room wearing my dark workout clothes and black and pink Nikes. Less than ten students, all seeming equally nervous, are also in the room. Seeing everyone else’s worried expressions made me less scared. Our professor came into the room with a huge grin on her face, laughing as she introduced herself to us. “My name is Tiffany, but you can call me Tiff.”
I could slowly feel the nerves evaporate from the room as class continued. Tiff had us introduce ourselves after she taught us how to situate our bikes. Many of the people in my class had never done cycling before, which removed a lot of the worry from my mind. There was no need to feel insecure of how ridiculous I looked while working out, because everyone else was on the same wavelength. We would all suffer through this 50-minute gym class together.
I’ve been taking cycling for three weeks now, and I’m loving it. After learning the basic exercise moves you can practice on a stationary bike, Tiff combines them all into various sections that take up the whole class. No one class is the same as the other. And she loves doing themed song selections, like Broadway or 80s. Fun, right?
Seriously, though, I’m surprised that I’m still in this class. Given my past track record, I don’t really stay with a physical activity for more than two weeks. But since I’ve reached the three week threshold, the sky’s the limit. I now want to take a Pilates class, a Yoga class or an Aerobics class. Hell, I’ll even use our gym on a weekly basis. I’ll sign up for the fun, themed cycling classes GWU hosts during midterms and finals season.
Sometimes I want to give up (it’s scheduled for 9 a.m. after all and I’m not a morning person). But for some reason, with this class I’m determined to stick with it until the end. Maybe it’s because it helps get my day going and because I feel more energized. Or maybe it’s because I want to lose weight and be healthy, and this class will help me get on the right track. Whatever the reason, I’m trying something new and loving it. Maybe I’m not such an exercise hater after all. But we’ll see after midterms how things are going.