I’ve lived the majority of my life inside, or perhaps a tad to the left or right, of my comfort zone. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t do it. If it was too painful, scary, or challenging, I cowered away in fear. I’m not saying I am small-minded or that I haven’t been proud of the accomplishments I have achieved and overcame, I certainly have and continue to do so. What I am saying is, while my one step in front of the other approach can successfully drive me forward, will it propel me to new and unforeseeable heights? I’m not sure.

My weight makes me incredibly uncomfortable and there are many times I allow my size to hold me back. I know that to fight this battle, I am going to have to pay in blood, sweat, and tears but I am too afraid to put myself in a “vulnerable” place to fight for it. When it comes to fitness, my goal has always been to just do something, anything that would even vaguely qualify, but I am beginning to realize that to make real long-standing change, I am going to have to dig deep. I am going to have to do a little more than I believe I can do to see the true lasting change that I want so badly. But how should I go about doing this? For me, it is much easier to push myself in a group setting with an instructor at the helm. In this environment even something that is intense, can be compensated by a riveting leader and a sense of community.

I remember a time I went to a Flywheel class with my sister, Lindsay. For her, Flywheel was the answer for a high level workout in a group setting. She lives in NYC and she is always talking about her experience at Flywheel and how she has found a community that allows her to meet her fitness goals in a fun and social environment. (She even took a class, which I did not attend, the day before her wedding…if that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is!) When she visited me in LA, she suggested I try a class with her and I figured, why not? Maybe I would like it? For those of you who don’t know what Flywheel is, it is an intense indoor cycling workout. It all takes place in a dark (an inherent bonus by my standards) state-of-the-art cycling studio with stadium style seating accompanied by a spotlighted instructor who is blasting high energy/RPM music that leads you through the entire class. It’s basically where a night club with a hip DJ meets an intense workout, minus the alcohol, sticky floors, long bathroom lines and undeserved pretentious vibe. When sold on paper, I was definitely down for the experience. A chance to workout in a dark room that was extremely well maintained with a cool/hip vibe, sign me up! Unfortunately, this sentiment did not stay with me too long once the class began. My sister was really into it, it was an experience within itself to witness it.  See, Flywheel has an optional built-in “competitive” vibe and for people like my sister, competition is a big motivator. There is a “torq board” which is basically a flat screen TV which projects your “score” based on RPMS, Resistance, etc.  and  lets you race against the other cyclists. It’s basically a visual of where you are compared to the other people in the class (thankfully for the less competitive people out there, like me…this is optional) So, while my sister was sweating it out and pushing herself to rise to the top of the torq board…I was in severe pain, frustrated, and left, before the class was over, embarrassed, discouraged, and hysterically crying. I remember my sister feeling really bad for making me take that class and telling me “Don’t worry, you don’t have to ever do that again!” In that moment the thought of ever walking back into a Flywheel class seemed extremely unlikely.

Months later as I sat in my still heavy and uncomfortable frame, reflecting on the experience I had in that cycling room that day, I began to think about that class and what was really happening to me mentally in that moment. Upon reflection, I realized that if I want to make a change in my life, I am going to have to start believing I can do much more than I think I can. I have to run towards the things that scare me the most (don’t worry mom, I am not going to skydive or do anything illegal.) So with this goal in mind, I decided to take a class at Flywheel again and this time, no matter how much pain I was in or how many tears I shed, I would stay in the room.

Now, first I have to state that everyone that worked at Flywheel was incredibly encouraging and did everything in their power to make sure they set me up on the bike correctly and that I was as comfortable as possible. This was a huge help and already a tremendous advantage over my last experience. The space was incredibly clean and well maintained and the whole vibe was very welcoming and motivating. I truly felt like everyone was on my side and wanted my experience to be positive. As the class went on, I am not going to lie to you, I was in extreme pain. Sitting on the seat was difficult, standing for long periods of time was a challenge. I was not able to “keep up” with all the levels that the instructor was shouting out. I was sitting in the dark corner of the room, listening to the blaring of the instructors music and fighting a full on battle in my mind. I was mustering every piece of strength I had to stay in the class and to not run out the door as a hysterical mess. I am proud to say that I made it through the entire class and I learned a lot about myself in the process. In an effort to keep the momentum going, I went back to class again a few days later and again yesterday.  While it is still tremendously difficult and a real challenge to make it through, it is eons better than my first experience and gets a little easier to bear each time! I know that I am not perfect and that I have a long road in front of me, but opening myself up to the idea of pushing myself way beyond my perceived limitations has been extremely enlightening and I know that I need to keep going down this path. My advice to anyone who might be reading this would be, don’t be afraid of the challenges in your life that you believe you cannot overcome. There is a reason that we so often hear phrases like “no pain, no gain.” You might not be perfect and it might take you a while to adjust but if you can voluntarily place yourself in challenging and scary circumstances and be willing to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable then the sky is the limit.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going all the way!

Please excuse me, my epsom salt bath is waiting. …no one said this would be easy!