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Have you heard of the Spartan Races?

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If you have, and you thought something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s just another mud run,” you’d be wrong. I used to think that too. I’ve volunteered for the Warrior Dash series (while watching my co-workers run the course) and tried out the Gladiator Run (which left me quite tired of climbing into and back out of shipping containers). There are numerous other mud/obstacle runs too–Muddy Buddy, Dirty Girl, Tough Mudder, Battle Frog, Rugged Maniac–but the Spartan Races stand out.

When the Spartan Race came to AT&T Park in San Francisco this past summer, I decided to volunteer.  (Volunteering at a race is a great way to check out a race–think of it as dating before you make the big commitment–and sometimes you get a free or discounted entry.)  All of the volunteers received a t-shirt and snacks, plus a free entry to either that day’s race or a future race. Volunteers who stayed all day also scored a sweet hoodie, and they fed us lunch. When I pre-registered to volunteer I managed to luck into the BEST volunteer gig ever, handing out bottles of CorePower to athletes after the race.

Spartan Races come in three lengths/difficulties. Spartan Sprint is the shortest distance, approximately 3+ miles (think 5k) with 15 or more obstacles. Spartan Super is the middle distance, approximately 8+ miles (think a 10k with extra laps) with 20+ obstacles. Spartan Beast is much more challenging at approximately 12+ miles (think half marathon) with 25+ obstacles. The Beast is aptly named, if what I’ve read on other blogs is true.  (I’m going to have to rely on that, as I’m not doing one!)

Oh, and there are some “bonus” lengths… If that’s not enough, there is also a Spartan Ultra Beast of marathon-length (26.2 miles!) and more than 50 obstacles. It’s so popular that the Vermont race, which isn’t until September 2015–is already 50% full as of mid-December 2014. There’s a Hurricane Heat 12-hour race, with teams. Sooo many choices!

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Spartan Races don’t necessarily involve mud. Sort of. The main reason I’m over “mud runs” is that the one I did had me carrying an extra 15 pounds of mud. After the race I hosed off–with an actual hose–and when I set the nozzle inside my sports bra at full blast, at least 10 pounds of mud came out. There was another 5 pounds in my shorts. I hosed my clothes down again at home, and filled another bucket with mud. Even after running them through the wash, my clothes were still trashed. Much to my absolute delight, the stadium sprints do not have any mud! (I’m told all of the other races do.) So I’m working on upper body strength to get ready for the 2015 race at AT&T Park. (By the way, I typo-d that last sentence as “for the 2105 race” and I’m not sure if that’s a subliminal message!)

Spartan Races have obstacles that make sense. At this summer’s San Francisco race I had the opportunity to watch the race. While there were some limits due to the venue–as an attorney I’m pretty sure there is a gazillion-page lease involved–this Sprint made clever use of the stadium itself, in addition to building out some obstacles. When I say the obstacles “make sense,” I mean they are physical challenges that you can train for, they relate to athletic strength. If you choose to skip an obstacle or can’t finish it, you don’t get mocked, but you do have to do some burpees. At the stadium, some of the obstacles took advantage of the stadium architecture, for example stair sprints, sections of jumping up via the benches, and wall jump-up and jump-downs. Others were hauled in and built, such as a a rope net a-frame, and a set of climbing ropes. While the exact obstacles for each race are technically a secret until race day, you can see some of them on the Spartan Race pages.

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Spartan Races celebrate everyone who races. My favorite experience volunteering was learning that there is a Spartan tradition to cheer-in the last finisher of every Spartan race. The race director gathers up the staff, volunteers, and anyone else who happens to be hanging out, and corrals them all over to the finish line to cheer for the last runner. That’s kinda awesome, as I’ve been to MANY races where the finish line is already torn down and packed up long before the last runner finishes. Another thing I love is that while the Spartan Races do have their fair share of ultra-fit athletes, there are also numerous repeat Spartans who don’t fit that mold. Some have lost a significant amount of weight, improved their health, and changed their lives through Spartan Races. ALL are equally celebrated!

Spartan Races bling you. Each race has a finisher medal. Each type of race–Sprint, Super, Beast–also comes with a wedge-shaped medal that you can combine with the other two medals to form a tri-colored Spartan medal. It’s called “The Trifecta,” and you can buy a special display to hold it together.

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If you’re a mega-competitive athlete, there are rankings and a championship. In 2015, the championship course is in Tahoe!! Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 3, and book a rental near Squaw Valley. For those of us who are not crazy competitive, there will also be a Sprint. Maybe I’ll see you there?

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Spartan Races have a kids’ division. Part of the Spartan Race philosophy is that “fitness and adventure should involve the whole family.” Coolest thing ever, watching the kids run through their very own course! It wouldn’t make sense (or be safe!) for the half-pint sized kids to be jumping up and down the stadium benches (since that’s waist-height for bunches of them). Instead, the San Francisco Sprint kids’ course was built inside the concourse. There were stairs, ramps, and flat runs, among other obstacles. Parents, volunteers, and Spartan staffers all cheered on the kids as they ran the course. Every finisher got a kids’ race medal and shirt, too. It was great to see kids wearing their medals right there with mom and dad wearing theirs–the kids were so proud!

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Spartan Races have a devoted following. How devoted? You can buy an annual pass to run as many times as you choose–that include running the same race multiple times on the same day. I saw a guy at San Francisco who ran the course at least 10 times during the day. There is an entire online community, too. Spartan and Reebok have partnered up for a line of athletic wear, and you can also buy Spartan training gear (such as the weighted Spartan “pancake”).

Spartan Races give back to the community. Military and first responders always get a 25% discount on registration. There is also a charity partners program where charities can get a unique code to earn 15% of all of the registration fees from that code. More on the Spartan website

Spartan Races isn’t just a race series, it’s a whole Spartan Lifestyle. Joe De Sena, athlete and founder of the Spartan Race series, wrote a book, and it isn’t just about sports. The title is Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life. It covers willpower, nutrition, exercise, and a variety of other topics related to kicking butt in life. I haven’t read it yet though it looks like a good read (but if anyone reading this wants to send me a copy, that would be awesome). He also started a podcast.

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To get to the Spartan Podcast, click on Spartan Podcast (sorry, not yet HTML-savvy enough to make the graphic above click-able).

There is a Spartan e-magazine, and you can read it for free. The latest issue is here, click on Spartan Magazine. Inside you’ll find race re-caps, travel guides for the Spartan destinations, and articles on fitness and nutrition.

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But why just read about it? There is a free Spartan Race workout tour. Unfortunately for me, the Berkeley workout is January 10 and the San Jose workout is January 11 (and I will be otherwise occupied running The Dopey Challenge at Disney in Florida). Check out the entire tour HERE

Want more? There are certified Spartan SPX coaches (see the website for a list). If you’re a fitness professional, you can take a certification workshop.

Spartan Coaching Mission:
The mission of Spartan Coaching is to create a community of coaches and participants that embrace the Spartan lifestyle. Through this program we will help each individual reach their fitness goals and adopt a healthier lifestyle. We will do this in an encouraging environment that welcomes individuals of all abilities and fitness backgrounds. We will work tirelessly to help all that seek better health, through the application of Spartan values.

You can join the mailing list for the Spartan WOD (workout of the day), or read them online. You can join the Spartan Cruise, hosted aboard the Norwegian Sky. complete with a (land-based!) Spartan Race.

Upcoming California Spartan Races:

January 17, 2015 So-Cal Beast at Vail Lake (sold out!)

January 18, 2015 So-Cal Sprint at Vail Lake (sold out!)

January 24, 2015 So-Cal Super at Vail Lake (80%)

January 25, 2015 S0-Cal Sprint at Vaile Lake (75%)

June 6, 2015 Monterey Super at Toro Park (50%)

July 18, 2015 San Franciscio Sprint at AT&T Park (50%)

Dates TBA: Sacramento Super, Sacramento Sprint; Los Angeles Stadium Sprint

There are, of course, Spartan Races all over the country. (I just happen to be living and blogging in California, so it’s the center of my universe right now.) For a full listing of events, check out the Spartan Race website.

Spartan Races need volunteers! Not ready to run? (Or think you’re not ready to run but just might be convinced if you could take a peek at it first?) Volunteer! Like I said, volunteers were treated really well, and even got a free race entry. You could spend your morning volunteering, and then race in the afternoon.

ARE YOU READY TO RUN?? If you can’t wait, head over to the Spartan Race website (HERE) and register using code SPARTANBLOGGER for 10% off any race. If you’re feeling lucky, enter to win a FREE entry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes you luck out when you are least expecting it. Last week I was on Eventbrite’s website because I had just entered an RSVP for a running-related event. By pure dumb luck I stumbled on an event called “Auschwitz Survivor Max Garcia Shares His Unique Story,” hosted by the Consulate General of The Netherlands in San Francisco. (Prior to this I did not even know The Netherlands had a Consulate General in San Francisco.) Amazingly, the tickets were free. In part because I live in the Bay Area–an embarrassingly over-full cornucopia of unique events–I have a tendency to read about a cool event, bookmark it, and completely forget about it. This time I entered my RSVP immediately. (I’m not going to lie, part of that was because I just could not believe that all I had to do to attend an event at a foreign consulate was click a website button.  Seriously, I basically invited myself.)

Frankly, the remaining Holocaust survivors are getting old. There are not that many left, and of those who are left there aren’t many who have both the desire and the ability to take on speaking engagements. Like any kid my age I studied World War II in school, and first learned about genocide in the context of the Nazi attempt to exterminate all who could be seen as Jewish by religion or culture or accident of birth. I’ve seen pictures of the grisly artifacts–lamp shades made of skin, piles of human teeth yanked for the silver in their fillings–that stand as physical evidence of otherwise unimaginable cruelty. Sure, I saw Schindler’s List (and was completely traumatized) and I’ve seen some brief videotaped interviews with Holocaust survivors. But there is something very different about sharing space with a real, breathing human being and listening than there is about studying a textbook history or consuming recorded media. The main reason I put in my RSVP is that this might be my only chance to hear a concentration camp survivor speak. I feel like it is important to be a witness, especially in an era when Holocaust deniers have unlimited access to the world’s largest megaphone (the internet) and anti-semitism shows up even in my Facebook feed.

This evening I had the privilege to hear Mr. Max Rodriguez Garcia speak. I didn’t Google him. I didn’t set up any expectations beyond Wow, I can’t believe this is real. Even with the limited space available in what I assume is usually the lobby and reception area of the Consulate, I was surprised it wasn’t standing-room-only. (Did I mention the tickets were free?) But like anything else, I guess an audience is better in quality than quantity.

Mr. Garcia started out talking about his life before the war. He described the kinds of things you tend to remember from childhood, things that are ordinary and unappreciated. Then he told us about what it is like to be “in hiding” in Amsterdam as a teenager; not holed up in an attic like the Frank family, but to me more like a silent shadow-person who was forced to shun both shoes and the sunlight. When the authorities caught up with him, it wasn’t the Germans/Nazi-loyalists who beat him but the Dutch police. When he was taken from the jail to the first camp–he was in Buna, Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Melk, and Ebensee–he was only 19 years old. In the train car built for animals and filled with straw and a very public, communal chamber pot, he did not know anyone. He didn’t know, but all of his family was already dead. Alone in the darkness filled with crying babies and couples making love as though it might be their last opportunity, headed to a destination unknown to him…I’m not exaggerating when I say I have absolutely no sense of how to even begin to imagine it.

But Mr. Garcia didn’t focus on the terror. He didn’t reek of bitterness and anger and resentment as he recounted being forced to strip, be shaved, and sprayed with Lysol. He didn’t silently beg the audience for pity as he told us how his sister was sent straight to a gas chamber just days after her 16th birthday. He didn’t have a demeanor that told us we should think of him as persecuted, or extraordinary. He didn’t play the role of victim or hero. He just told us parts of his story, like any man telling stories from his life, without shades of either a Shakespearean actor or an emotionless automaton.

I’m not going to share Max’s story here. It’s not my story to tell, it’s his. Trying to share what I remember would be like watching the made-for-TV-movie version of a skillfully written novel. If you want to learn his story, you can get his book, Auschwitz, Auschwitz…I Cannot Forget You As Long As I Remain Alive (ISBN 978-0-9792922-7-9) or visit his website, http://www.auschwitzmaxgarcia.com  (EDIT: as of 6/9/2015 this link leads to a bluehost ad; it appears the domain was not renewed)

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Instead, I’m going to share what I take with me from listing to Mr. Garcia.

First, the capacity of a person to WILL is limitless. One of the attendees asked if he thought there was some reasons he survived, or a purpose or destiny he lived to fulfill. Mr. Garcia said he survived because he DARED. He gave several examples of choices he made where he dared to live and to thrive, where he took what we might call “calculated risks” (but which were really, in my perception, calculated interpersonal interactions). It was difficult enough just to survive on the meager rations given to the prisoners–there are more calories in a nonfat latte than he ate daily for over a year–and yet he survived when many did not. Mr. Garcia made it very clear that he had to repeatedly make the choice to dare to live. (While he did benefit from some choices made by others, he didn’t learn about those acts until years after the war; his attitude and determination existed apart from those unknown facts.)

Until you hear a former concentration camp prisoner spell out the details of daily life inside the camps, you don’t even know how wide a swath the concept of #firstworldproblems encompasses. Got a bed that has sheets or a pillow, or that you get to sleep in by yourself or only with those you choose? Are you confident that your only pair of shoes won’t be stolen in the middle of the night? Oh, you have more than one pair of shoes, do you? How about your social interactions, let’s look at those… Do you get to have friends of your own choosing? Can you move about freely without fear you’ll be shot for saying the wrong thing? Or for just some random, unknowable reason? Do you have even a tiny bit of control over where you live, the job you do, and when you move? Does your boss speak to you in a language you understand or bark at you in a foreign tongue he knows you don’t speak? Is your life at least somewhat predictable and lacking in impending death threats such as starvation, communicable diseases, and machine guns? Again, I cannot wrap my head around what it is like to live under the circumstances Mr. Garcia experienced.  Without any concrete hope that life will get better–you know, you’ll get a promotion, pay off that credit card, find true love–is it any wonder that so many people just wasted away? I’m somewhat ashamed that I’ve ever felt sorry for myself.

Second, we need to acknowledge the differences between “us” and “them” are slight and imagined and not a reasonable basis for separate treatment. (This is where the yoga lesson comes in.) There wasn’t much difference between the prisoners–who we now tend to forget were not all Jewish but also included, for example, homosexuals, criminals, and political prisoners–and those who ran the prison. The prisoners were all but starved, but at times the guards were not eating much better. They lived not in the same barracks or identical conditions, but in an isolated place away from their families. At their core, everyone was just a human being with the same human being needs. Yet the prison staff regularly tortured, abused, and killed the prisoners. Doctors conducted medical experiments on prisoners in the hospital barracks next to the ones Mr. Garcia lived in; the women there were repeatedly impregnated so the doctors could practice abortions (among other despicable things). The prison staff magnified the tiny differences between “us” and “them” until “they” were something other than human and so it didn’t matter if they were abused, tortured, killed, or left to die. But those tiny differences were really just random characteristics, most of which were not under the control of the individual to which they pertained. You don’t choose your parents (empirically unprovable metaphysical/religious beliefs aside), so it isn’t like anyone chose to be born Jewish (or Catholic or Protestant), or gay, or blonde. Yoga philosophy teaches that those differences between “us” and “them” (and even the separation of the concept of “you” and “me”) aren’t real.

Oh, just to be clear, Mr. Garcia didn’t utter the word yoga.  This is all me here.

I left the Consulate thinking about the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and the protests that shut down the Berkeley BART station (again) tonight. The racism that bubbles underneath the surface of our allegedly post-racial society isn’t any different than the race-ism that separated the “Jews and other undesirables” from the “Aryan” race. Your Black (or Asian or Latina or any other not-white) skin and my pale white skin contrast in photos, but they don’t mean anything (other than biologically, pigment concentration and all that–probably I get sunburned more). Neither your skin nor mine should entitle the bearer to special treatment positive or negative. It’s not even just about race here at home, it’s also about economics and the politics of class. There is nothing free or brave about a country where something as random as geography or how much money your parents have determines your chances of success in life. There is nothing United about a world where  nation-sponsored genocide has repeatedly resurfaced repeatedly. Just hit Google up with the word genocide. Or try the term Armenian. Or look back to 1994 in Rwanda. No people are immune, and one of the very first sites to pop up on that Google search for genocide will tell you that genocide begins with the dehumanization of the “other.”

Part of my privilege–give it any label you want–is that I had the CHOICE and the opportunity to interact on a personal level with a broad mix of people. The activities and travels I’ve chosen have let me have one-on-one interactions with other individuals.  Individuals who get labels I don’t, who are “different” in skin color, cultural identity, education, experience, religion/belief, economics, and age. The yoga idea that these “differences” are not real makes total sense to me. (By the way, I do find it thoroughly ironic that yoga in America started out populated by bored white upper-middle-class housewives and has trickled down to mostly middle-class albeit somewhat “alternative” still mostly white and still mostly women.) I’m not saying everyone I meet just wants to bliss out and sing Kumbaya with me, as I’ve certainly met people where we’d both probably say, “oh, we have nothing in common” (which is often code for something like “her political stance/religious beliefs/taste in music make me want to puke”). Chances I will personally get smacked in the face with anything other than your basic misogynistic asshattery discrimination are pretty much zero; on the other hand, chances I will exhibit anything other than an unintentional discrimination against people who are “different” is also pretty much zero.

This got much longer than I had intended it to be.

I don’t have the answers to any of the problems that fall under the banner of #blacklivesmatter (or at least I don’t have any answers that are reasonably realistic in this current time and space). The best I can do is to (1) observe that continuing to divide people into an “us” and a “them” is foolhardy and dangerous, and can easily lead to one Us dehumanizing a group of Them; and (2) encourage you to consider how those “differences” between you and me–and you and that guy over there, or you and that family on welfare, or you and that bullied kid, or you and that bully–don’t really make us all that different….and on further contemplation, you might discovery they aren’t even real.

 

Thoughtful commentary and exchange of ideas welcome here.

(Read: personal attacks and blatent hate speech will be deleted.)

A few weeks ago, just before getting my Thanksgiving feast on, one of the local racing companies sent me an email about their upcoming races, and included the following invitation:

An invitation

Since I was intrigued by FlyWheel already–I’d heard about it, but never tried it–and the price was right, I decided to RSVP. Now I’m not a cyclist of any kind (unless toodling around Alameda on my no-speed red cruiser bike with the built-in baskets counts), despite being a proudly certified Real Ryder instructor.  Cycling is way the heck out of my wheelhouse (har har har). But I keep going back, in equal parts because (1)  I know some day I’m going to get talked into a triathlon, (2) everyone keeps telling me that cross-training in another discipline is a good idea, and (3) as a teacher I recognize the importance of doing things I suck at so that I can empathize with my students. Still, I don’t like it. I don’t even Facebook-like it.

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From the minute I walked in, I knew that I was in for a completely different fitness experience. First, it took exactly zero minutes for one of the Flywheel staff to welcome me and get me started with the check-in process. Assuming you made a reservation before class–a good idea, because there are a finite number of bikes–you check in on a tablet. (See the schedule up there? You can make another reservation too!) It tells you your bike number (yup, assigned seats!) and you collect your cycle shoes from the appropriately numbered slot below. While you can bring your own, every Flywheel class comes with free use of the shoes and towel service, plus all the filtered water you can guzzle. During check-in you can also confirm whether you want to be on the “Torq Board,” an electronic display system that lets you compete against other riders (if you want). The front desk has hair elastics too, in case you forgot to bind up your locks. After a quick studio tour, I went to the locker area to store my stuff. Flywheel has those modern electronic lockers, the kind where you choose your own PIN to lock and unlock it each time.

Speaking of electronic, why yes, that IS an outlet to charge your phone inside the locker while you are getting your sweat on!
Speaking of electronic, why yes, that IS an outlet to charge your phone inside the locker while you are getting your sweat on!

To the right of the lockers there is a white board where you can jot down which locker you chose, since it is likely to vary each time. I tell you, they did NOT miss a beat!

While waiting for class to start, I checked out the retail area, populated with cute Fly-gear. Or is that fly Fly-gear? Dunno, I’m not cool enough to wear most of it yet.  Anyway, there is also a map outside the studio door so you can figure out where your bike is.  The bikes do have little sticker numbers on the front stem–which I understand the cool kids refer to as a “head badge”–but it is nice to know where you are going before you get there. I also talked with some of the other newbies (that was all of us except for one or two people who I think were Stanford students from back East) and we were all nervous.  “Just don’t point and laugh when I fall off the bike, okay?” I asked them. The doors opened, students left, the doors shut.  We waited some more. The doors opened and a crew with wet mops and cleaning supplies emerged.  I thought, Holy crap, what I have I voluntarily agreed to do? How carefully did I read that waiver??  But it was too late to turn back, and in we went.

Once inside, I took a quick look around. The room was set up like a tiny auditorium, with a little elevated stage in the middle with the instructor and the sound system. There was a center aisle leading to the exit. On either side the room had three rows of bikes. The room was mostly black, with a huge flat-panel TV/screen hanging from the ceiling on either side (the “Torq board”). I’m one of those people who will always choose the aisle seat/spot in class, but I didn’t mind being in the middle at Flywheel.  It was plenty spacious.

For my first ride, I got help setting up my bike. Since they are custom made for Flywheel, I wanted to make sure everything was properly adjusted. Frankly I also needed help figuring out how to put my shoes into the pedals and get them back out again. The Flywheel staff was really helpful, and took all my newbie questions in stride. The bikes resemble other stationary bikes in the Spinning style, except for two features.  One, there is a little rectangular dashboard on the left side, above the wheel and below the handlebars. This is the “tech pack” (I thought it was the “tech deck,” but the website just corrected me!).  It displays the torq (basically how much resistance you’ve added to the bike) and your power output, both current and what you’ve done in class so far.  If you are participating in the Torq Board you can see your total power output up on the board, but even if you aren’t, you can view your class performance online in your private account after class. Your account includes specific data for your last few rides, including an estimated calorie burn, as well as aggregate data over your last ten rides.  (There are prizes for hitting the 3000 mark in a single calendar month, in case you need an incentive. For me, that would take like 20 classes. Maybe I’ll try that next summer.)

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This bike was greeting all of us at the studio grand opening.

Two, there are two blue-tipped bars in special slots on either side of the wheel.  If you’ve ever worked with a Body Bar in a gym class, this is the same idea (only a little shorter).  While waiting for everyone else to set up I put my water bottle in the handlebar-mounted cage, draped my towel over it, and played with the knob to adjust the torque and with various positions on the bike.  Oh, almost forgot to mention, you can also borrow a nice padded saddle cover (in case you’re like me and have a butt that is firmly opposed to a hard seat).

A better shot of the "tech pack" and bars
A better shot of the “tech pack” and bars

Then class started, and away we rode! Our instructor, Aina Williams, was a total top-notch rock star! From what I understand, Flywheel expects EVERY instructor to deliver the same type of performance. After introducing herself, she explained that during the ride, she would recommend a number for torq and a number for power output; the torq number was optional, but the power output number was non-negotiable. A Flywheel instructor is part DJ (music literally drives the class), part cheerleader (let’s face it, this is NOT a class for sissies), and part happy drill instructor. Aina is also in incredible shape.

We started with a warm-up that had me dripping on the floor, and then progressed to a ride with hills, sprint intervals, and a HUGE amount of energy. I dripped all over everything despite making frequent use of my towel. Since I’d driven all the way to Sunnyvale for class (and note to self: check the 49ers schedule before choosing a class) I did my very best NOT to wimp out. I couldn’t keep up 100%.  The hardest part for me was breathing; I literally ran out of breath and had to spend a lot of time focusing on breathing properly (inhale, belly poof out; exhale, belly suck in), which is more challenging than I expected it to be due to being in a cycling position, half bent at the waist. My diaphragm hurt the next day. (Also the day after.) Still, I had the feeling we were all “in it together” and I took little breaks but kept on pedaling.

After the hard-core part of the ride we continued to pedal with a lower resistance while using the mini Body Bars for upper body work. I picked up the four pound bar and tried to do the whole workout with that, expecting it to be kind of a cake walk compared to the ride itself, but ended up doing about 2/3 of it. This surprised me, because I hadn’t worked out my upper body that day and I don’t believe I’m that much of a wimp. (Maybe every bit of energy had leaked out of my body through my legs?) Meanwhile the guy next to me was doing the workout with BOTH of the Body Bars. He definitely deserved the post-ride high-fives more than I did!

Class ended with a surprisingly decent off-the-bike stretch. Admittedly I am a bit of a snob when it comes to the post-class stretch (I blame it on my yoga teacher training, which also has me try very hard not to be a judgmental-rhymes-with-witch during that part of class). It felt SO SO good. After the stretch I slowly hobbled out of class, put my shoes in the already waiting shoe bin, and refilled my water bottle from the designated taps (filtered water in cold or room temp). Then I asked Aina to indulge in a post-ride selfie.  She’s so nice, she said yes. Even though I was a hot sweaty mess, and had a hard time getting my phone to put both of us in the frame.

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Then it was off to a well-deserved shower. I earned it. Flywheel Sunnyvale has four showers, separate from the bathrooms. Since many of the riders left without a shower (I assume most live much closer than I do), that was plenty. Each is a self-contained and locking unit, complete with fluffy towels and fully stocked with Bliss spa body care. So really all I need to take to future rides is a shower scrubby poof.

After a sweaty ride, this is heaven!
After a sweaty ride, this is heaven!

In addition to the shower products, the showers also have Bliss body butter, spray-on deodorant, cotton swabs, and a laundry hamper. Other than the moment where I forgot there was a bench in the shower and kicked it (hard) with my left big toe, I think that was the best shower I’ve had in my life.

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See that thing on the left? That’s a plastic bag dispenser. (I told you, they didn’t miss a trick.) Good thing too, as my workouts clothes were thoroughly drenched, so much so that I could wring sweat out of them.  Icky.  Anyway, on to more pleasant things…outside the shower area is a vanity with hairdryers, hair spray, and other stuff for those more stylish than me.

To celebrate the grand opening the studio had some nice swag giveaways for all class attendees. I scored a tote bag and a ball cap (handy for covering up my mop of wet hair). Then I grabbed a quick snack and finished coming back to reality.

Fresh fruit for a post-ride snack
Fresh fruit for a post-ride snack

Again, I’m NOT a cyclist and this is pretty far out of my comfort zone.  BUT…I had a great time. Even feeling awkward, wimpy, uncoordinated, and sweaty. Flywheel comes with a great post-workout euphoria, and I plan to go back again. It doesn’t hurt that the parts of me that were sore (other than my diaphragm) are the parts I know I most need to work: glutes, hamstrings, and that elusive glute-hammie tie-in.

Have you tried Flywheel?

If you are in the Sunnyvale area, or northern California in general, give it a try. Click here to create an account and sign up for your first ride: http://flywhl.me/cfm- (Note: this is an affiliate referral link. You’ll get the same or better deals you’d get from going through Google, and have the satisfaction of supporting your friendly neighborhood blogger.)