Outside my Comfort Zone

Just like that, I’m a spin instructor again. Do you know about spin? It’s an exercise class. Stationary bikes semi-circled around a leader (that’s me). I select the music, choreograph the workout, think of motivating things to say. The part I like most about spin is that anyone—at any fitness level—can participate. A seventy-five-year-old can spin next to a twenty-five-year-old and have the same experience.

I instructed twice a week for five or six years. Mostly, I stuck to mornings—o’dark-thirty. Early enough to get home afterwards and help my kids get ready for school. I loved it. And then later, I loathed it.

Because I’ve been blogging forever, my relationship with spin is well-documented in my previous posts. I typed “spin” into my search widget and dozens of posts came up. I’ve written about spin’s role in bringing me back to running. And how it affects my eating habits. And my health. And my relationships. When I was still happily obsessed, I wrote The Best Songs You Won’t Hear in Spin Class about all the raunchy music I never got to play. And I wrote A Most Unusual Resignation Letter about the day I walked out of the spin room, depressed, lonely, swearing I’d never instruct another class.

Well, now I’m back.

It all started innocently enough. At Eli’s mountain bike end-of-season team celebration, while talking with a coach, I mentioned that the local high school cross country team spins at the Y during the off season. They rent the room and bring in their own instructor. The kids love it. The coach gets a fitter team.

I thought I could use my old spin connections to set this up for the kids. But then I didn’t. Instead, I spent weeks lying in bed at night, hyperventilating, worrying about all the things that could go wrong. The instructor won’t show up. They won’t let us in because some of the kids are younger than the age cutoff. We’ll arrive and find the spin room already being used by someone else. Finally, I sent an email to the head coach. “I can’t set this up. It’s too hard.”

Yes, I just joined this coaching staff two months ago. I failed my first assignment. For me, spin’s loaded with baggage. Did you read A Most Unusual Resignation Letter? It gives some context. I ended my career as a spin instructor five weeks into a new job. A job I hated. I came home from work every night already dreading the next day. I was spiraling into a depressive episode. Once a week, I’d leave work early to instruct my evening spin class. Practically no one ever came, and the ones who did complained about the music. I quit over the phone without any notice. And I’ve gone to only one spin class in the two and a half years since I quit. I was invited to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

Another coach took over organizing spin for the team. Two weeks ago, I clicked on the Facebook page for the mountain biking team. “Winter Spin is starting Sunday, January 26. Classes taught by Coach Jeff.”

I didn’t see that coming.

Eli was in Sunday’s class. He said it was fun. He liked the music. And I don’t think I embarrassed him. But most importantly, mid-way through the class, I began to enjoy myself. My ulterior motive for wanting to coach Eli’s team—besides spending time with my son and getting to mountain bike three times a week—was to force myself into uncomfortable situations. Over the past decade, I’ve worked hard to shelter myself, to keep things routine. Now, I think some regular discomfort might help me grow as a person. Last weekend, I sprouted a couple of inches.

17 thoughts on “Outside my Comfort Zone

  1. This is brilliant!! GO YOU! I wish I could come to one of your spin classes! Have fun with it, you’ve got a team of mountain bike groms ready to learn from you! Pick allthegoodsongs 😀

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  2. That’s great, Jeff I am happy for you! I remember you left spin with a sour taste in your mouth. Glad you are back doing something you do enjoy and you get to do it for and with Eli. This is one of those things he will always remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to do spin classes at the Y and the substitute instructors always had vastly different musical choices than the main teacher. None of it was my own taste, but the variety kept the experience fresh and interesting. Glad to hear you’re revisiting teaching. I hope this is a rewarding experience for you.

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    • Thank you. The music is definitely the hard part. Because my son grew up in our house, he likes very old music 60s – 90s. He claims he has no idea what kids his age like, I think he’s just trying to distance himself from me if I put out a crap mix. So these kids will all need to deal with classic rock & 80s era punk. I always hated it when a substitute instructor showed up. But I’m sure people hated it when I showed up for Tammie’s class too.

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