I’m going to start this off by saying something wildly unpopular and mildly ironic: my fitness journey was inspired by a SoulCycle instructor — the irony being that I absolutely HATE SoulCycle.
No judgement for those who can withstand a dark, unventilated room with close contact sweat and being asked to pedal faster when your bike should feel, in the instructor’s words, “like you’re pedaling through cement.” For me, it’s a real hatred.
I was in the midst of a soul-crushing job when a so-called friend dragged me to a 6 a.m. class.
The lights went down, and I began my mental muttering of “Fuck this, fuck this, fuck this,” when the instructor came at me with these unexpectedly powerful words:
“This will NOT be the hardest thing you do today.”
It hit me hard. She was right, this awful class would NOT be the hardest thing I did that day. After class, I would go to a job I could not stand, deal with my daily dose of sexism, and get trapped in an endless marketing meeting where they would use the term “organic” at least 15 times in 10 minutes. I made it to 9 p.m., walked out of my office, and confirmed that the 6 a.m. class was not the hardest thing I did that day.
Never a morning person, these words made me want to start my day with a workout. No one else but me is affected by my workout. No one else benefits from it. No one else hurts from it. I am truly the only one affected by my attendance to a workout class. Exercise became a way for me to start my day on my own terms, during a time when I was devoting over 12 hours a day to a job that left me with little to no control on how I spent my time.
Quite frankly, working out was the only way I held it together through this grueling employment. In those sweaty classes that I used to judge and make fun of, I would find solace. I chose to go to those workouts, and no matter how annoying they were (“I can’t give you five more, Trey!”), it kept my day about me.
Once weight loss stopped being my main goal, I found it way easier to wake up in the morning for an early class — on a (drum roll please) DAILY BASIS. I also started to see other benefits: my butt looked so much better, I had more energy, I felt stronger, hills became less of a non-starter for me, which was a big win for this San Francisco resident. And I was still partaking in things I loved regularly, like carbs, wine, and tater tots.
It’s been five years since I started this almost-daily workout routine. While the six pack isn’t there and bandage dresses are something I really pray never come back into fashion, my workouts have made me the main character of my daily routine.