(1)

“The first time I rode with IC, I quite literally FELL OFF MY BIKE. No joke. It’s ok, you can laugh. I did too!

I hadn’t been to a spin class in over 6 years; and to be honest, I hadn’t exercised regularly in over 4 years. In high school and college, I was an avid runner. It was my high, my escape, and my therapy. When I graduated and started working as a nurse, I slowly stopped prioritizing myself. I ignored the common-sense notion that ‘you can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself’. But worst of all, I wasn’t practicing what I preached. I was a hypocrite.

This past spring, I tried getting back into a gym routine again (probably my 4th genuine attempt in 4 years), but my motivation was hindered by low self-esteem and constant self-pity. My “workouts” consisted of 30-40 minutes of excuses to go slower, lift less weight, and take more breaks. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t making any progress to meet my fitness or health goals.

On a random day in early September, out of the blue, I decided to look into workout classes. I hated workout classes. Standing next to other people, talking to other people, seeing my beet-red face and flailing limbs in a mirror, other people seeing my beet-red face and flailing limbs in a mirror, and then inevitably comparing my beet-red face to those people’s not-so-beet-red faces…what a nightmare. But I was desperate—how could I get the motivation of a group workout without experiencing all of those petrifying realities?!

INNER CYCLE. First class free—Check! Blackout lighting—Check! Loud night-club music—Check! Killer reviews—check! Run by two #BossBabes—check!

Text to my best friend immediately after my first IC class:

“So, funny story. I just went to random free spin class… 10-minutes into the class I proceeded to drop my (1lb… yes 1-pound) weight on the floor. I tried to stop my bike to pick it up, but in the process, my foot got stuck and I LEGIT fell off the bike (oh, and almost pulled the bike over on top of myself)….Let’s take a moment of silence for this humiliating and ridiculous scenario. Hahahah But, what was I going to do at that point, leave?? So, I got back on the bike; and needless to say, I cried… in the dark… on the bike… with a pumped-up remix of “Cry Just a Little” blasting in the background (the irony was all too real…what is my life?!) ”

Despite it being horrifically ungraceful, that first ride was life-changing. I may have fallen, and cried (just a little), BUT I DIDN’T QUIT. Inner Cycle gave me the motivation I needed to get back up, push harder, and leave it all in the saddle. I’ve been riding several days a week since then, and I am proud to say that I’m physically and mentally stronger than I’ve been in years! I’m down 10lbs and workin’ those muscle gains (started using 3lb weights Cycle & Tone last week!) I still have a long way to go to meet my long-term fitness and health goals, but I know Inner Cycle can help me get there. Every ride at Inner Cycle is lights-out, music-up, ass-kicking hard work with a whole lot of fun sprinkled on top; but the #1 reason I ride with Inner Cycle is for the motivation and inspiration poured over me by the incredible instructors. Thank you for helping me get back up when I fell (literally), pushing me to my limits and never letting me quit. I swear couldn’t do it without you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! See ya in the saddle!”

(2)

“Where do I begin with my story from the beginning to now with my Inner Cycle experience. It all started when my life was turned upside down with having two children under the age of 2 being a single mom.. I was depressed and not happy with my body. A coworker mentioned spinning at a studio at Inner Cycle and how much she had loved it. I was so nervous being depressed let alone being out of shape and if I could do it. So off I went to the studio for my first class. There was a pregnant women working at the front desk ( Very pregnant mind you Emily ). She greeted me with a smile and made me feel very comfortable settling in before class. Of course I took the last bike in the back row.. Well, what a ride I had for the first time! The room was dark, music was blaring, people were wooing and instructor was energetic. The next day I couldn’t walk or bend down but I felt good and wanted to try it again. 8 years later I am still going four to five times a week. I have made life long connections over the years and still spin with some original spinners( JP) is one of them. I have watch Emily and Hillary through all of their pregnancies and expand their business! Now I can personally text them as they are not only my instructors but friends. Over the years of spinning at Inner Cycle, I have been though quite a lot of personal things, such as divorce, cancer, girl’s father passing to happy things of buying a house to finally having a partner! I basically wouldn’t of been able to get through many things or be where I am now in life if it weren’t up to my lifelong friends at Inner Cycle and supportive instructors. I look forward to riding each week , not only to literally get lost in the ride but to catch up with your inner cycle peeps. Every instructor is amazing and has such individual talents to show in his or her rides from music, resistance, weights or on a personal level. I am extremely blessed to be a part of this franchise and wouldn’t  be who I am now in life if it weren’t for Inner Cycle. Oh by the way my bike is in the front row..”

(3)

“I’m overweight, but that’s not why I ride. It’s a bonus to take care of my body, but in earnest, I’m taking care of my mind. I’ve had Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression for longer than I can remember. We all have an idea of what a depressed person is supposed to look like, but I fight like hell to not fall into that stereotype. While others have career goals and family aspirations, my day-to-day is spent fighting towards goals of mental health. I manage my symptoms with therapy and medication, but I begrudgingly slip into a depression every couple of months. Over time, I’ve learned that the best way to take care of myself is with a full body/mind approach. I’ve dabbled in all types of exercise, but when a friend invited me to go spinning for the first time, I was surprised how much I liked it. In addition to the camaraderie and great music, I found that I left class feeling happy. It’s not always easy to drag yourself to class. Life pulls us in many directions and we are tired at the end of the day. I am so proud of all the people who come to class to take care of themselves. But what they don’t realize is that they are also taking care of me. You’re all on my team and I will be forever grateful for all the mental health you’ve given me.”

(4)

“Last November I would have been skeptical if someone told me all of the things that I would accomplish in 2019. I was a tired and overworked graduate student who was just trying to make it until Christmas without having a complete mental breakdown. I decided after Christmas that I would do the whole “New Year New Me” thing and get back into shape and lose weight and take care of myself, blah blah blah. I had told myself this every January since freshman year of college and here I was 7 years later with nothing to show for it but more student loans, cancelled gym memberships and about 40 extra pounds. Mid-January I decided to sign up for a spin class at the Inner Cycle in Marblehead. I wasn’t too sure what to expect (or if I was going to make it out alive quite honestly). Within 10 minutes of the class I had already begun to lose myself in the ride (I had lost my breath for sure). I loved the music, the choreography, the fast pace hustle and the funky lighting. I couldn’t remember the last time I actually had FUN working out. I decided to try the 2 weeks unlimited for $25 and see if I wanted to continue. After the 2 week “trial” I was still having so much fun when I went to class. I loved the support from the instructors and the fact that there was absolutely NO PRESSURE to sign up for a membership. I could ride on my terms and not feel forced into a contract. While living in Marblehead and working in Beverly it just made sense with my schedule to get an Unlimited membership. It was only a 3-month contract so if I was “over it” in 3 months I could terminate without any hidden fees. Let’s just say I definitely wasn’t “over it” after 3 months. With my new exercise routine and changes to my diet I felt incredible. My previously lousy mindset had blossomed with self-confidence and positivity. By May, I was down 25 pounds and ready to walk across the stage at graduation and receive my diploma. I was glowing and I was not about to stop! Within the next month I did a total of 3 road races. I was a runner all throughout high school and I truly thought those days were behind me, but I figured why not give it a try? The worst that could happen is that I puke or pass out right? The road races were not easy, but I felt strong and confident and finished without any embarrassing moments! I was on a roll! Around this time, I was ALSO preparing to sit for my boards. The morning of the exam, I was feeling nervous and doubtful due to the relatively low pass rate for this exam. In the past I would have fed into this doubt and “prepared for the worst.” I literally said out loud to myself that morning that I’ve worked hard to strengthen my body and mind this year and I’m not going to talk down to myself and I’m going to go into this exam with a positive mindset. A few weeks later, I had actually found out at the end of a Friday Night Bikes ride that I had passed this exam…I just couldn’t wait to go home to check my results. With a heart rate close to 200 beats per minute I started crying in the lobby of the Beverly studio, hugged a woman I didn’t know and rushed out to my car to call my parents. The inner cycle has given me physical and mental strength that I never would have gotten by working out alone in a crowded gym. Becoming a part of the Inner Cycle family gave me the support and confidence needed to reach my goals this year and that’s #WHYIRIDE.…. Also, SHOUTOUT to the instructors who go above and beyond to make sure everyone has fun and stays motivated! Matt H for making me feel like a badass in class (even though his inspirational talk midway through class makes me teary eyed) and Heather Q for making Monday and Friday nights super fun and upbeat!”

(5)

“I’ll never forget it. Sobbing in the parking lot of my doctors office after an appointment full of reviewing concerning blood work and what seemed like all bad news. I said a prayer in that moment asking for a sign, for guidance, for help. It didn’t happen right away, but it did happen that same day (my “sign”). It came in the form of a text message from a friend asking if I would be willing to try a spin class with her at a studio called “the inner cycle” in Amesbury. I remember thinking to myself, “you have nothing to lose”. So I dragged my defeated, unsure self into the studio along side some friends, where I wholeheartedly expected to encounter a group of incredibly physically fit people, laughing at the sight of me walking in to attempt a spin class. That didn’t happen. Quite the opposite actually. I was greeted by the most enthusiastic instructor (Melanie) who made me feel welcomed and even a little excited (as did the group of riders I was surrounded by. A pleasant surprise!) I stayed on that bike for the entire 50 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t get into 2nd or 3rd position, I couldn’t sprint, I couldn’t climb, but I didn’t die AND…I kind of liked it! I signed up for the two week introduction and could feel myself getting stronger…and then for a fall challenge where I lost some significant weight and gained some significant confidence. Two years later, the inner cycle is still giving back to me. So when the question is posed…and I ask myself “why I ride”, there isn’t just one answer. Its like this: I ride for my health, both physical and mental  (my follow up doctors appointment blew my health care providers away! follow up Blood work came back with incredible improvements!) I ride for my family. I ride for that endorphin high. I ride for the fabulous instructors. I ride for my “neighbor”. I ride for the release of bad energy that a long day can sometimes bring. I ride because I can. I ride as a reminder of how far I’ve come. I ride as a reminder of how far I’ll go. I ride because I’m worth it. #whyiride”

(6)

“I grew up between two states: Massachusetts, where I lived with my mom and New Hampshire, where my father lived with his elderly parents, my uncle, and his family. When I was 12, I began the process of emancipating myself from my mother’s guardianship and moved in with my father by the time I was a freshman in high school. It didn’t go well, to put it plainly, I ended up moving back in with my mom within two years, but it did teach me a lot. Things about my family, and things about myself… I have always been heavy, but I’m tall and I’ve always carried it well, or so I’ve been told. I grew up with a family stuffed full of obesity, diabetes and general poor regard for ones own health. My father has type 2 diabetes and has been obese my whole life. He’d always been physically strong and very loving, but never healthy and very inactive. He smoked cigarettes, drank soda, ate greasy, fatty foods and rarely ever moved faster than a calm walking pace. He never seemed bothered to simply exist. It worked for him I guess. At age 62 he had his first heart attack, and I was sure I would lose my dad. Our relationship had been strained since I moved back to MA and we never really recovered from my move to his place. I remember chasing the sunrise on my way home from the hospital in NH and crying exhausted tears that he’d be leaving me soon, and there was still so much we hadn’t worked out between us. Over the next five or so years he had several more heart attacks, and by 64 he’d lost his left leg because he had an infection that would not quit when he desperately needed a new heart valve. He hadn’t been able to feel his feet for years anyway, so they chopped it off. Diabetic neuropathy. He can’t hold a pen anymore, can’t walk, can’t bathe himself or change his clothes without help, and he’s got no strength to even hold his phone to his ear for very long. He’s become so weak in the last few years I almost don’t recognize him anymore. He’s been hospitalized over and over again to the point where he’s said goodbye to me no fewer than six times now. The last time I visited him at the rehab hospital in Derry was time #6 when he told me he was so depressed he was ready to go. That hurt to hear. Hurts to think about… I have wanted to diverge from my family legacy of diabetes and poor choices for a long time now, but for so long I just didn’t. I was content to simply exist. I tell myself I made a lot of mistakes early on so I should learn from that and grow in the direction I wish to travel, but I’d been so unmotivated. This past summer I went on a vacation with some friends and I had to pretend I didn’t want to zip line because I was too heavy for the max weight. When we floated on the river in our inner tubes and I had to get out to keep us from the bushes I couldn’t get back in the tube. I was so embarrassed. I decided enough was enough. I’d been watching my father die for years and if I didn’t change something and soon I’d be in a similar boat. I was the one driving this ship, I get to make the choices on what I can and cannot do, my body doesn’t get to make that call FOR me anymore, I get to make the choices and I’m choosing to live a full and happy life. To do that though I had to get my house in order. It’s been hard, but I keep reminding myself that I gave up cigarettes three years ago this October, so I know I can do hard stuff. I see a therapist regularly and I joined a gym. My friend told me about the IC and how it’s become her “happy place” after her divorce, and I agreed to try it. That was in June of this year and I’ve never stopped going. I’m in the saddle between one and four times a week ever since, and I’m so proud of myself. I’ve only lost pound or two, but I feel so much better already. I sleep more soundly, I’m generally in a better mood, I find myself snacking less and feeling Ickes out by the bad foods I used to crave. Now I’ll be sitting at my desk at work and I’ll just ache to spin. I’ll think about it and try to will the hours to go by so I can get back on that bike, where all the bad and worst parts of life just don’t exist anymore. It’s now my happy place, my safe and living welcoming place, where I can do anything I decide to and I’m not limited by the skin I’m in, because I’m growing to love myself in a way I never have before. I don’t even miss the old me, and I’m just warming up. I find myself listening to music and imagining doing isolations to it or sprinting or just hopping along in second all happy and care free. Even if I don’t win the contest, I want you guys to know that you have had a real and genuine effect on my life and I’ll forever be grateful. I’ve been putting off writing this because it’s got a lot of heavy stiff in it, but I know now how strong I am. I can carry it all, because I am a powerful and strong person, and I’m only getting stronger. So in closing I should probably tell you my why… do I ride? I ride for me, because I need to, I want to, because I love it, and no one and nothing can stop me.”

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