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people who spin

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Hi there. Nice to see you again.

You know, some people are really and truly spin people...and some people aren’t.

I grew up with line-dried towels. I realize that not all people grew up in a hippie commune like I did (just kidding). Most of you probably grew up with the luxury of chemical fabric softeners. However, at some point along your journey of life thus far, I’m sure you have, at some point, been offered a towel dried in good ol’ Mother Nature – or, at least, sans Downy.

Who steps out of a shower soaking wet and says, “Yes! Hand me that stiff sandpaper! Can't. Wait.” Almost no one. Unless you’re purposely trying to squeeze in some exfoliation, in which case your timing is off: You’re supposed to exfoliate before or during the shower, not after.

But you do it. When offered, you use that scratchy towel, because you don’t want to admit that you just want what feels good. Because you feel like this towel represents a willingness to save the planet one laundry load at a time, a conscious decision to avoid rubbing your entire body with chemical additives, and a morally superior preference for a real fresh breeze scent over an artificially concocted one.

Maybe you’ve never analyzed this whole towel situation, but this is what I do – and there’s a reason, I promise.

You see, exercise is often like that towel: Slightly scratchy, slightly uncomfortable, and not what you really want.

Because you don’t want to admit that, “No, damn it! I don’t want to pedal ferociously in a dark and sweaty and crowded room and pulse tiny weights [that somehow feel way too heavy by the end, based on their relative size...How do they do that?!] to upbeat pop music!”

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be that way!! Exercise is supposed to feel good, right? Isn’t feeling good the reason why we exercise like maniacs in the first place?

Meh. Not always. We also want to look good. We also want to make up for being actual or self-perceived food monsters. We also want to keep up with what everyone else around us is doing so we don't feel like slackers for not taking full advantage of our monthly Class Pass.

Now, as my sister just pointed out to me: “Weren’t you really into spin for awhile?...I feel like you did it kind of backward.”

I was a spin person for a hot second, and I get it! People like to sweat. A lot. As you do in spin classes. It feels refreshing and “cleansing”. And, before it hits you like a Mack Truck a few hours later, it’s exhilarating and provides a rather magical endorphin-like high. As in, “I literally can’t feel my legs on the ground. Am I floating? Does anyone else see me floating like this?”

But it’s kind of a line-dried towel: Something about it rubs me the wrong way.

I tried a few spin classes. After the first one, I thought, “Huh, okay. Not as bad as I thought.” After the next few, I left progressively more satisfied. After about the fifth one, I never wanted to set foot in another spin studio ever again – which is ironic, because most people do it the other way: They keep trying, and they eventually catch the bug. Speaking of bugs, it's also ironic because D and I were recently called out at a stand-up comedy show as “the spin couple” (because we’re built like praying mantises).

When it comes to exercise, it’s all about choosing the towel that makes you feel good.

I went through a short-lived “fitness is my life” stage, which is kind of important as a personal trainer, I think. But my two prime years of having notable guns have passed and, after the requisite mourning period, I’m pretty okay with their natural chicken-wing status. For the most part. One day I’ll build them up again, but, for now, I’m considering it an exercise in self-compassion.

Now, yes, I completely agree that building strength is important. Yoga, interval training, weight lifting, Pilates...They all have their merits, and I’m certainly not here to lead a righteous parade against exercise: I'm a believer. And, yes, my current approach is, in part, a coping strategy for chronic pain that continues to flare up whenever I lift a weight heavier than 20 pounds. And, yes, this is coming off of a week where I slid off of a Stairmaster that suddenly took off at breakneck speed of its own volition.

So, yes, I might be a bit biased. But this where I’m at right now. In a few months, you might find me cranking away like a mad woman every damn day. There’s a lot of me that tough to change – while other parts can change like the wind.

There’s often pressure to do more exercise, to do all forms of exercise, and to try exercise that feels slightly uncomfortable – and not in a positive, “get out of your comfort zone in order to blossom” kind of way: In a scratchy towel kind of way. It’s just not what you want, and it chafes.

Here's my public service announcement for today:

Exercise doesn't have to chafe.

You can exercise in ways that actually feel good to you rather than forcing yourself to go to the gym and crank away on a cardio machine, or do three rounds of the circuit machines...when all you really want is that soft, warm, Downy-scented luxury towel of a stroll through the park – or maybe an 80s-themed hip-hop dance class! Now that sounds like a good time.

Ultimately, I want you to be comfortable and happy. If you love to hardcore workout every damn day and empower yourself strong and fierce, that’s fantastic! You do you. I’ll admit, part of me wishes I was more of an “I have to exercise every day” person to the point where I had six-pack abs not on purpose but purely due to my chosen, completely-fulfilling lifestyle of wellness wellness all the time.

I just hope that you’re really enjoying it along the way – and not because it helps you feel less guilty for eating whatever you ate, but because you’ve found a form of exercise that really and truly makes you feel awesome.

There’s no shame in using a Downy towel.

How about you? Are you a spin person...or some other kind of person?

Thanks for stopping by. And keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.


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