It's almost spring break season. While I'm not in college and won't be "spring breaking" this year, the attitude of spring break is alive and well. Summer is quickly approaching and with it, swimsuit season. If you're like me, you'll squint and grimace and you'll do it — you'll throw on that suit and put a smile on your face — but you certainly won't like it.
I was recently invited to attend a Costa Rice themed ride at Swerve Fitness. It's the beginning of March in New York — obviously a tropical spin class is going to receive an enthusiastic "yes" on the RSVP form. I was also promised juice at the end of this class, a real treat!
Spin classes generally vary in how they set you up for success. Most of the spin classes I attend, while in a group setting, are not connected with metrics on a screen. You can "compete" with those around you, but you really don't know how you're stacking up logistically. Then, there are studios like FlyWheel that use metrics to show you how you're "doing" in comparison to the people around you. Those are the studios I tend to avoid. As a highly competitive person, I can see the appeal, but I tend to get in my head if I'm not leading the pack (even though the incredibly fit man whose quads are the size of my waist probably has more muscle than I do).
Swerve is set up in a similar fashion as FlyWheel, but instead of every person for themself, you are assigned to a team based on what bike you're riding on. Suddenly, spin has become a team sport. It's not you against everyone else, it's a group effort. And we're talking about Costa Rica's beaches?!
Game over. That's what the cyclists of the world needed.
As we spun to all sorts of tropical melodies, pretended we were flying through the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, riding as hard as we could for the sake of our team's score, we were empowered and we were together. The room was full of people who are dedicated to wellness in one capacity or another — at least to the point of getting their butts to Midtown at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday. When you all share a common goal, you can feel the mood of the room change to a very motivating one.
My team won. It doesn't matter, just painting a picture over here.
At the end of the ride, soaked with sweat and sunshine-y vibes, we were all ready for swimsuit season. Not because of the shape of our body, the number of calories we had just burned, or the green smoothies we were happily consuming, but because we had a community of strong, encouraging people surrounding us as we did hard things. Donning a swimsuit once the sun starts peeking out from behind the clouds? It's never been my favorite thing. But hey, we just rode through the Costa Rican rain forest! At the speed of light, practically.
Hard things can be overcome when it's a team effort.
That's not a mood solely found in a spin studio — chances are high you can find a community of people that encourage confidence, strength, and sunshine in your life, too. And hey, if you're having a hard time with that, might I recommend a team ride?