Spin Class Stories

I’m a runner. I like to run. Preferably in a straight line at around 8:30 minute mile pace. I don’t like sprinting or being pressurised into running faster than I have to. I like long, steady paced runs. My favourite distance is the marathon. I don’t particularly enjoy hills but put one in front of me and I will run up it. I will not stop. Call me determined or call me stupid but I will not stop. I’ve ran seven marathons and I hope to run more in 2018. It’s what I do.

When I decided to get fit and lose some weight three and a half years ago I dabbled with all sorts of other physical activities before I plumped for distance running. It was all part of the mid life crisis. My fourth that particular year. I took up Taekwondo and pranced around the village hall in a pair of oversized white pyjamas. I reckon I could have been a black belt by now if it wasn’t for my startling lack of hand/eye coordination and flexibility.

I had a go at weight training but was intimidated by all the muscle bound hulks at the gym. I have quite strong leg muscles from running but as for my upper body, forget about it. I looked like a jerk at the clean and jerk. My kettle bell technique was the talk of the place. For all the wrong reasons. My arm curls were toe curlingly embarrassing and my squats were sqawful. I’m pretty sure that’s a real word.

Finally I tried spin class. I skulked at the back of the class and hoped that the instructor didn’t notice that I was pedalling at a lower resistance than the rest of the class. Everyone pumping furiously around me seemed so much leaner and younger. I was up and down out of the saddle but never seemed to be getting anywhere. Quite literally. Spin class depressed me. I didn’t like being shouted at and being told what to do. My heart wasn’t ‘spin’ it.

Spin class was like my grief. It hit me in waves but I never seemed to get anywhere with it. I worked harder and harder but there was never an inch of progress. All that pain for nothing. A day or a week or a month later and it would hit me anew as if for the first time. Grief is a thief. It slips up on you when you least expect it and brings your world to a jagged, juddering halt.

Spin class was like my drinking. Binge followed by hangover. Over and over again. Ad nauseum. I drank to forget but at some point forgot why I was drinking. It became a sickly cycle and the wheels had to come off eventually. They did so in spectacular fashion. Alcohol is no longer my favoured form of transport. Drinking and cycling are a definite no no. When I run my body and mind are cleansed. Alcohol poisoned me. I’m still detoxing I suppose. I always will be.

Spin class was like my OCD. An endless circle of obsessive, intrusive thoughts followed by baffling, heart breaking routines. It’s the most orderly of disorders. It will grind you into a pulp. As your routines become slicker so the thoughts become sicker. Always one step ahead of you. Pedalling furiously to keep up but never quite getting there. Hurtling through the fog not knowing what mental pothole lies just ahead waiting to throw you headlong over the handlebars.

Spin class was like my addiction to social media. Never learning. This time I would get it right. A new account, a new Stephen. A new creation doomed to slide into familiar patterns of behaviour. Ever so gradually until I was trapped again. Watching myself as if in a dream, an out of body experience. Wanting to stop but unable to. Always cracking, always relapsing. My soul spiralling downwards as my follower count spiralled upwards. A thousand likes as I despised myself.

Are you trapped in or on a cycle? Are you pedalling at breakneck speed but getting nowhere? Are you tired of the the same, endless, pointless routines? Take a health check. Are you physically, mentally, emotionally running on empty? Then step off the bike. Stop what you are doing and look around you. Breathe. Observe. Live. You are better than this. You deserve better.

Do it today. Now. Stop spinning. Start winning.

Is your life spinning out of control?

Are you trapped in an endless cycle?

What are you going to do about it?

45 thoughts on “Spin Class Stories

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  1. I’ve taken a few spin classes in my day; I got to a point where I recognized that all of that fremzied effort no longer served my body well. I found a better and wiser way to move/exercise, informed by better understanding of how my body is designed to move and the unique challenges/injuries that I have.

    As you intimate in your poignant post, what is true for our bodies is often true for our souls, too. All of this constant striving and self-reliance gets us nowhere except, well, tired.

    Great post! God has given you quite a ministry here on WordPress. ✝️

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Really good post. I also went through a period of drinking. Always wanting to stop, but failing. I drank to stop my mental pain. It worked for awhile, but thenI could feel the pain through the alcohol. I kept praying to be free and God made me free. I sure don’t miss it.

    I like how you can make fun of yourself. You are very funny sometimes. I’m happy for you that you found something you love to do, marathons. I think that is great. We all need one thing we love to do. Mine is painting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for opening up and sharing. Yes, I have experienced that feeling of cycling and not getting anywhere. Futile and unrelenting despite the feelings of exhaustion. Your humorous, self deprecating writing helps us know we are not alone and we can get through this to the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good post.

    It puts me in mind of the famous Stephen King quote: “Hell is repitition”.

    Yeah. Back when I was drinking every day was like Groundhog Day. Like one of the ants stuck on MC Escher’s Moebius strip (http://www.mcescher.com/gallery/recognition-success/mobius-strip-ii/).

    I’m so pleased that I discovered The Sinclair Method and found recovery when I did in order to escape “the eternal loop”.

    How about yourself? How did you get sober, Stephen?

    Like

  5. My obsession with the gym was how my whole ED journey started. I was going to the gym 7 days a week for almost 2 hours at a time. The first hour would be pure cardio on a bike at full pace!! I would not get off the bike until i was covered in sweat along with the bike. I recorded over 900 calories in an hour once that is how quick and intense i was doing it. After that i would get on do weights. This of course was pointless, my food intake during the day was less than 600 calories. I would be burning far more than i put in. The weight training was pointless as i said simply because i had nothing to turn into muscle. Exercise bulimia was diagnosed, a case where the individual simply burns all calories and then some that has put in their body throughout the day. I was a hopeless case, i had nothing in my life so i spent all my time at the gym. I was told to stop when i started my counselling for the simple reason that i was putting so much strain on my heart. My life was literally spinning out of control. My body fat was less than 5%. To put it into some perspective hyper athletes like the Brownlee brothers have a body fat content of 6%!!!! Having not been to the gym in over 7 months i can honestly say i still think about it and still have a strong desire to exercise something i fight daily along with the other demons of my ED. I still restrict my eating, i still look at myself and feel i am fat in the face (which was the where the whole thing started). I am definitely stuck in an endless cycle of self abuse. As for what i am going to do about it??? I have no answer. I want to get better. My god i want to get better for my daughters sake, but the demon voice that controls my every waking thought about eating and calories will not release me from its vice like grip.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I once, while out running with our Battalion Chaplain, advised him to start a running club to bring soldiers to Jesus. He asked why. I replied: ‘Because no-one is closer to hell than when they’re running!’

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been reading many of your blogs because I love your handiwork with words (like “Grief is a thief. It slips up on you when you least expect it and brings your world to a jagged, juddering halt.” I was pretty sure there was no such word as juddering, but to my surprise it was definitely listed on dictionary.com! I started a note page entitled “Words I Like From Steven and Fionnuala”. You inspire me to improve my written expression, to show not tell my story. Love you guys! Cindy

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the metaphor 😛 I’m glad I continued ‘binge reading’ your equally Netflix-esque blog. You’re actually the first person I’ve written to who actually has PTSD and reading how you’ve phrased the cycle of bad habits and constant spiraling of this illness really hit home for me. I really appreciate you being so open like this 🙂 thank you!

    Like

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