How were you first introduced to Peloton?
I live in Cincinnati and the first I heard of Peloton was from a New Yorker friend of mine. She was in town because my mom had just passed after an 18-month battle with ALS.
My family was sitting shiva and I was at a real low point emotionally. My mom had been my best friend and confidant and I wasn’t ready for her death. I’ve always been the fitness-type so she told me about this “crazy indoor bike” that she bought for her husband and how he streams cycling classes from home at all hours of the day. She talked about the instructors, the gear, and the on-demand classes; she could see my eyes getting big. I have always loved to ride and plus it had been a thing my mom and I enjoyed together. As my friend described the “Peloton experience”, it sparked something in me and I guess my husband noticed it too because several weeks later I came home to a gift-wrapped Peloton bike with matching shoes and mat.
I have to be real – that first ride was tough.I consider myself to be in pretty excellent shape. Although, nothing could have prepared me for that first live-streamed class. It was a physical challenge for me and a complete emotional drain. Within those 45 minutes, I released! The anger of my mom’s death, the sadness and frustration I felt – it fell away as my legs pumped through my workout. I pushed and reached deep, legs throbbing with blood, my breathing labored. I felt free of my emotional pain. I thought of my mom – I knew that she would love this. Then the ride was over and I then wanted more!
What’s your favorite part of the workout?
For me, the two best parts of the Peloton work out are the first song and the last song. The first song gets me to my zone. As the lights go down and music starts, my mind gets ready. The day slides off my back – it’s the start of “my time” and I feel that focus. My legs start to roll, my heart starts to pump, and I melt into the flow. From there, my mind goes blank. Literally. I land in my zone and can’t even tell you what happens over the next however many songs. I’m just moving!
I somehow catch the call for the “final push”. It breaks the trance. I’m suddenly aware of everything: my sweat, my effort, and the movement of my body. This is my other favorite part. When that last song starts, I feel grateful for my ability to work out and to move my body because, in life, I’ve learned that movement is a privilege; one that can be taken by illness or disease. I watched my mom suffer from ALS so I treat that last song like an homage. I ride that last song hard because I can. It’s the bookend finish of a moving experience.
Can you describe how the class experience makes you feel?
Peloton classes are like a guided meditation for me. I’m tuned into my mind and body, riding through songs nearly unaware that time is passing. As my friend, and Peloton instructor, Jess King likes to say, my “physical intelligence” takes over. I feel as comfortable on the bike as I do on my feet. It wasn’t always this way for me. It took close to 300 rides to figure it out. I had to learn to shut my brain down, to allow the class to unfold, and to ride the thing through to the end. In learning to let go I’ve discovered that I’m at my best when I can quiet my mind and let my instincts take over. Movement frees me. When I’m moving, I’m my truest self.
Has Peloton helped you through challenges in your life?
The Peloton community helped me through the challenge of losing a parent. For that, I am grateful. Several years ago my mom was diagnosed with ALS. It’s an awful disease. The brain loses its ability to communicate with the body until the victim can no longer perform even the most basic involuntary movements. Most people with ALS die once they lose the ability to breathe. That’s similar to how my mom died.
After her death, I struggled. I felt lost in life and felt adrift. Through the Peloton community, I found my way. I rode frequently from the start, finding solace in movement. In those moments I began to heal. I piled up classes – first 50, then 100, then 200. I planned my first trip to the “mothership”. My fitness was improved. My mood was improved. I felt the vibes of the Peloton community and it’s around that time I realized how movement gives me strength – physically and mentally. I decided right then to share that message widely. I returned home, auditioned to teach indoor cycling, and began to build my following.
Jess King is a force of nature. She’s full of life and light, and her energy is without limit! I reached out to Jess because I wasn’t entirely sure I was ready to move forward. I’ve owned a fitness studio and have won city-wide awards for my fitness classes and instruction but the thought of getting out there and teaching again was making me uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure I could be authentic. Jess helped me by creating a safe place, then holding it open, while I re-examined my life and found my proverbial footing.
We’ve developed a friendship that goes beyond the studio also. Recently, I hosted a donation-only cycling class in Cincinnati in honor of my mom, and in benefit of our local ALS support team. It was a difficult class for me, emotionally, and an important part of my grieving process. Jess flew from New York to Ohio to ride the class and support me and she even made sure to reserve a front-row bike. The class was magical, really. We were a room of 49 riders, each celebrating the gift of movement as a group. To have Jess there, my coach and my friend, was unforgettable.
Peloton, Jess King, and the whole community have given me so much. More than anything though, they’ve helped me redefine who and what I am. For that, I am grateful.