I’ve been indoctrinated into a cult. However, I’m not drinking any Kool-Aid and this cult has nothing to do with religion. This particular cult I’m talking about has to do with exercise, a word I despise more than tofu. In this Hollywood Land we are all living in, there is nothing worse than feeling out of shape and looking your age. When I speak of Hollywood Land I speak of a mind set and not a specific demographic, necessarily. You can have it and live in Des Moines, Iowa. It’s a place where our minds and a sign of the times have taken us, where we think perfection is attainable. A place where we as a culture our obsessed with being the best at all costs, and that includes having the best body and doing the latest workouts.
My girlfriends, several of them, have all been raving about Soul Cycle for years and getting their computers primed and ready for when the week opens up and they can get on and schedule their favorite bike with their favorite instructor. They are literally beaming with excitement to sit in a dark room with a bunch of strangers for 45 minutes, and on Sundays a full hour, peddling miles and miles going nowhere with the trainer shouting right, left, right, left, right, while listening to a techno beat.
Well, I had resisted and made every excuse not to go, for years. “Biking just isn’t my thing.” ‘I like yoga.” ‘’I’d rather be outdoors hiking.” All true statements, but you know when someone is trying to get you to see “the way” they just don’t let up, and so I caved.
I reluctantly got out of my bed early on a Sunday morning, which is already against my religion. I dusted off my workout clothes. “Well, it is already bathing suit season” I reconciled to myself. I got in the car and drove to that dark room I’d been avoiding for years. When I got there the excitement was palpable. A bunch of people buzzing around signing in and getting their shoes (they give you proper biking shoes that snap into the pedals). Everyone seemed to know each other and speak the same language. They spoke of teachers, the rides and sweating, and who’s moving to what studio. All greek to me. Anyway, as I waited outside of the room for the door to open I actually got a little nervous. I felt how I feel with my kids before we get on Space Mountain at Disneyland. When they come by right before take off to check the lock on my seat belt and my stomach gets butterflies. I wanted to run back to the car and go to Starbucks, have my Latte and check my email., But it was too late. The doors flew open and the party was on. There was no turning back now. I toughened up and got my game face on. My girlfriend, who had gotten me there, and her husband just smiled at me like your mom does when she drops you off at camp on the first day. “Just do what you can”, they said. “Don’t worry about keeping up.” Those words were not comforting at all. I got on my bike, the music started and the rest was history. It was the fastest hour ever. When the music stopped I was still spinning not knowing how to stop this energy I was feeling. The teacher came up to me and said “great first class.” I had done it and it wasn’t so bad. In fact it was kind of good. “Now I get it”, my head was spinning. I understood what people were talking about. It must have been what my mom felt like when Jane Fonda came out with her low impact aerobic videos and it was all the rave. My sister and I would just laugh and make fun of her. I must look like she did to my kids when she was running around in bright tights and a leotard with a headband singing “Let’s Get Physical.”
Although I got a little heady, for a moment, I knew I would never be a part of this glamorous cult. I like too many other things, most of which don’t include exercise, but I knew I’d probably be back. The buzz is real and there’s nothing quite like racing a twenty something year old on a bike next to you on a road to nowhere.