I hurried out of the hot morning and into the cool, dark studio. Placing my keys and Ray Bans on the floor, I hopped on my bike. The clock on the wall struck 9:01.
“Power equals the amount of force you use in the presence of resistance,” Chrisanthi, my Monday morning spinning instructor declared as she stripped out of her black-and-white striped sundress, revealing a tangerine yoga top and black biking shorts beneath it.
“Today, we’re focusing on building strength,” she added, mounting her bike and clipping shoes into pedals. “So we’ll gradually add force and resistance over three ten-minute intervals.”
In her late fifties, Chrisanthi was more joyful and in-shape than the seven of us thirty to forty-somethings that sat on three, elevated tiers of bikes in front of her. While I had just rolled out of bed one hour before, this was going to be her second workout of the day.
“Look down, and find a steady 70 to 75 rpm’s,” she called out, “We’re warming up!”
The music started booming as my legs pressed the pedals, finding the beat while watching my rpm’s climb.
In college, I had a spinning instructor whose class I attended devoutly at a fancy gym in New York City’s lower West side. She had us wear heart rate monitors while we rode. I loved tracking the numbers, testing the limits of how breathless I could become and how far I could safely take my body. I loved how that instructor took me to edges I couldn’t find on my own.
Now, twenty years later, I returned to spinning because I’ve been facing unprecedented challenges in my life. To help me meet these, I’m choosing small ways each day to condition my body and mind to work easefully with greater levels of intensity.
“We’re moving into the first interval,” Chrisanthi shouted with a smile as she turned up the music with the remote on her console.
“Reach down and turn the resistance lever all the way to the right– the equivalent of three turns of the knob. Now, get up and out of the saddle. Look down at the watts on your console. The top right number. How high can you get this number? 200? 300? 400?”
We all thrust our silver levers to the right with a collective, click. Gripping the front of my handlebars, I stood up and felt the weight of my body adding power to my pedal strokes.
“Do you know what separates winners from losers?” Chrisanthi called out.
Without waiting for our reply, she answered: “Winners are willing to suffer one percent more than everyone else!”
Letting my thoughts of I can’t do this, this is so hard, I want to leave dart through my mind, I pedalled faster, harder. Looking down at my console, I watched my watts climb up to 200, 250….
“Empty out everything you have. Even what you’re saving in both your back pockets. Push, push, push!” Chrisanthi cheered.
With one minute left in our final interval, we were nearing the top of our imaginary mountain. Chrisanthi asked us to visualize whatever we were wanting to create or achieve in our lives waiting for us at the summit.
“Now, keeping the resistance on high, pedal as hard and fast as you possibly can,” she shouted, “Go!”
Sweat dripped off my chin and onto the handle bars. My legs burned. But I was willing to do whatever it took to get to the top of that mountain. So I closed my eyes, turned off my mind, and let my body take over.
“10, 9, 8,” Chrisanthi counted down.
Push, push, push.
I peeked down at my console, spinning my legs faster and hiking my knees up higher than ever before, determined to get my watts over 300. Feeling the power in my body build, I watched the numbers on the screen climb up past 350.
“3, 2, 1,” she added, “aaaand, we made it! Take those levers back, all the way to the left, we’re bailing out. You made it!”
Slowly turning down the music, she invited us to sit up straight on our saddles and roll our shoulders forward and back.
Looking down at my console, I pressed the button on the lower right to look at my highest watts– my measure of power– from the ride.
“Here, the only person we’re competing with is ourselves,” Chrisanthi reminded us.
My fifth class back in the saddle, I saw that that ride’s watts was my highest so far.
Power equals the amount of force you use in the presence of resistance.
I had beat my own personal record. Emptied my back pockets. Been willing to suffer 1% more to be victorious.
After I hopped off my bike, wiped it down, and grabbed my keys and sunglasses from the floor, I headed back into hot morning.
Now, my face glowed and body hummed from endorphins. I remembered that the amount of power I emanate is entirely my choice. No one can give me power or diminish it. And, the more resistance I face in life, the more power I have.
Being gentle and going slowly is good medicine at times. But sometimes pushing ourselves past our preconceived limits is the remedy we most need.
Where in your life are you holding back, afraid to empty out your back pockets? When do you want to bail instead of sticking with it to the top? Are you willing to suffer 1% more to ride your way to victory?
Let me know in the comments below.
Push, push, push!
…..Where are you holding back in life, ready to push through to greater levels of freedom and self expression?
THE SHE YOGA & MEDITATION TEACHER TRAINING OPENS NEXT WEEK!
FEBRUARY 17-24, 2018
ABSOLUTE SANCTUARY | KOH SAMUI, THAILAND
Join me for this one-of-a-kind yoga & meditation teacher training: by women, for women, with women.
Bring your reverence and your sacred rebelliousness. Bring your wise longing for something far richer than skin-deep “namastes.”
I’ll meet you there, revealing the feminine yoga and meditation practices I have honed and devoted myself to for 20 years.
Stay tuned, because we only open registration for for this intimate and unconventional teacher training (that feels more like a retreat) once a year…and only for ten days this July.