I have always hated exercise. But I know I need to do it, especially as I get older. So, I got a Peloton spin bike a few years ago. While I’ve mostly been pretty good about using it, I’ve had months at a time when it has sat dark. I do really like it though – very intensive workouts, and no excuse for not using it. It is sitting right there in the front room downstairs, and no matter how much snow there is or how rainy or how hot or whatever, it is right there waiting for me. I still hate exercise but, with this thing, not as much as before.
In the past 6 months or so, I’ve been much more regular in using it. Being the nerd that I am, I track my progress, I wear a heart rate monitor, and I watch how things change. Based on both my resting heart rate and how quickly my pulse returns to that resting rate after a workout, I can really tell that I’m in as good a shape as I’ve been in many years. Maybe in my whole life. I feel better, more energetic, stronger.
Most of my spins are 30 minutes. I’m doing about 3 or 4 a week, usually. In the past month I’ve started adding in 45 minute spins once a week. And finally, finally, I am starting to lose weight more consistently. I need to drop about 30 lbs and I’m on my way.
What changed, to make me more motivated to stick with it?
When you take a Peloton class, you get ranked on a leaderboard, and you can compete either with those who are taking that class right now, or everyone who has ever taken the class. About 6 months ago I was on the bike, and while working out I was noticing some of the nicknames people give themselves for the leaderboard. Mine was something like “RichS-Boston” – very boring and matter-of-fact. Lots of people pick nicknames like that. But some of the nicknames are really clever or funny or answer the “why”: “SpinsForTacos”, “GolfRequired”, “electrigal”, “IamtheCavalry”, “backtodaoldme”, you get the idea. Something that clicks for them, that says a little of who they are. Something that others might remember.
And then there’s the instructors. They really are sensationally motivating. Not just athletes and trainers, but actors and actresses with their own tribes and groupies and followings. Many of them have little mantras that are their trademark motivational saying. Christine says “I am, I can, I will, I do!”. Kendall, who is a boxer, says “They can knock you down, but they’ll never knock you out!” A saying that drives them, and that they share with those taking their classes.
I started thinking about why I picked a boring name. And what I could pick that wouldn’t be so boring. That fits with why I am on this bike and pedaling like crazy with my heart rate just a few clicks below its max, while some impossibly fit instructor is telling me to “just go a few more seconds, c’mon add 5, now GO! GO!”
I don’t believe in “woo woo” stuff – motivational sayings, tapping my “energy”, finding my center, blah blah. That stuff turns me off, usually. Maybe I should stick with RichS-Boston.
Why AM I on this thing anyway? What do I want to happen with it? Just lose some weight? Check the “exercise” box? I’m retired now. I’m getting older, but not yet old. I have a lot I want to experience and accomplish, still. My bucket list has been getting longer, not shorter. I NEED to be healthy, strong, maintain myself to have the life I want to live. I’m not doing this for some short term goal. I’m doing this to change my life, make good habits I never had before. I need to make these habits something I never give up. I need to:
Yeah, that’s it. Short, double-meaning is cool, easy to remember, easy to read as it scrolls by on the leaderboard. And it is exactly why I am doing this.
So, I don’t believe in “woo woo”. Motivational sayings – bah! But when I am faltering, 2 minutes into that final, give-it-all interval and my legs are screaming at me and I’m gasping to get enough breaths in to keep pushing, and the instructor says “just FOCUS on it, stay with it, don’t give up!” I am saying to myself with every pedal stroke “ChangeMe4Good! ChangeMe4Good!” and I am pushing through the doubt and my legs keep pumping and then “3…. 2…. 1….. OK descending recovery has started!” and I crossed that finish line.
Maybe there is something to that “woo woo” stuff, after all.