How Peloton Rebuilt Me
Two years ago I tore my meniscus. It wasn’t good. I didn’t just tear it. I flipped it upside down. Fortunately, my doctor saved it. And somehow I recovered better than I had from strained hip flexors in college. But my recovery continued with physical therapy.
It was going fine until one day when my regular physical therapist was out. I was initially miffed because we had a good rapport. I was secondarily miffed because this new therapist didn’t know how far along I was or wasn’t. A chart can only tell so much.
Machismo pulsing through me for no reason other than wanting to be better again, I told her I was ready to get to work. So she put me to work. And it was going fine. My meniscus was strong. But then something tweaked when I was doing medicine ball squats. It was my back.
I stopped going to physical therapy to recover. And because I was blaming them for my mancercising, a version of mansplaining via overexertion from exercise, my back hurt off and on for a couple of weeks. This had happened before and usually, it just went away.
And then one night I bent down to get in bed and I was done. My back was out. Like nothing that had ever happened before. I thought my meniscus was the worst pain I had ever felt. Until my back went out.
I had to call 911. And they had to take me out of the house on a board. Except the board wouldn’t fit down the stairs. So they did it with a bag. I was carried out of my own house and down my stairs with a bag. Four people cobbled together at 2:30 a.m. from a random volunteer corps to transport my writhing body. They almost dropped me.
I told the main guy I was going to kill him over ten times. He kept asking me to move my legs. I was basically paralyzed in pain, screaming. If I could have moved my legs dude, I would have. I still want to punch him.
So between the meniscus and the back (bulging disc pushing on a nerve with surgery suggested and immediately declined), I was out of exercising for a long time. And although I started losing weight by doing Paleo through this, I was not in shape. I couldn’t walk for a long time. And I certainly could not run.
More than 6 months passed before I realized that I needed to get my a** in gear. I went to college to play basketball. I was a personal trainer in college and trained with a runner-up Mr. America. I worked out hard virtually every day for ten years. Then kids happened. Then I got it back. Then I lost it. I was adulting over the years and passing on exercise as a way of life.
But I needed a way back.
I had seen the ads for Peloton and was intrigued. (P.S. — this is not a paid advertisement. They don’t even know I exist, but for my profile and Instagram stories that no one sees.) I am good with self-accountability and this had that built-in.
Statistical tracking. You had me at “stat.” Healthy competition through leaderboards on every ride and on-demand. Yes, please. Streamlined and tech-focused layout and features. Nerd alert, I’m in. Easy ordering and quick delivery once I order (after months of site stalking a damn piece of exercise equipment, trying to justify the cost), check.
One thing though: I’ve never ridden a bicycle.
I had a stationary bike in college, a LifeCycle old school one. But it did hills and had some sweet and flashy red dots for output. So I guess I had some experience beyond the training wheels I used to rock inside my grandmother’s house growing up.
I finally bit the bullet and just ordered it. And it was the smartest decision and best investment I have made in a long time.
You are up against yourself. And this works for me. Every day that I ride, I see it on my calendar. If I don’t ride, there is no dot there. And then I get mad at myself. Because I want the dot.
Each day I can try to beat my previous best output for that particular timed ride. This drives me. To do better than I did the day before. To challenge me. To work outside of my comfort zone.
But you are not just up against yourself with Peloton and this is what is so amazing about it. You are up against each other. Every ride. Every day. You can ride with friends or you can ride with strangers. You can ride live, you can ride on-demand. But in all of these rides, you can ride against the leaderboard.
If this doesn’t work for you, you can shut off the leaderboard and just ride. Sometimes when I know I don’t have a good ride in me, I just hop on and ride through a National Park (yes, you can do this) or I just put on my own music and just do a free ride. At my own pace. With my own metrics.
But even my own metrics are still holding me accountable to myself.
Variety is the Spice of Life
I wasn’t sure I would like having instructors tell me what to do while riding. In previous iterations in life, I haven’t enjoyed this. But the instructors at Peloton are so well trained that you can find your favorites and always ride with them. And you will be inspired. You will work harder. For you. For them.
The variety of personalities and instructing is vast and interesting. Sure, they all have some go-to Peloton moves and phrases, but the more you ride, the more you know who you are up for that day. I had a long list of my favorites here, but then I realized that it includes just about every instructor at this point.
Depending on how you feel that day, you can diagram your instructor around that. Some days you need a push. Some days you need a smile. A pat on the back. And some days you want to get crushed. I choose my instructor based on what live classes are available near the time I want to ride or what I really need that day. And they will give it to you.
The Next Level
I got the bike to ride it, but soon thereafter I realized that wasn’t all I could do with my digital subscription. Stretch. Yoga. Meditation. Workouts. Running. Another push to get back to the level I once was at. And this is where my rebuild has taken the most shape.
I used to not stretch because I didn’t value flexibility. Enter age and a realization that I better be more flexible and care less about everything else. I got pretty decent at yoga, but then my knee took me out. Now being able to watch and mimic is what keeps my yoga practice growing. When I was a trainer I was really strong. But now, I’m kind of embarrassed about my comparative strength. It’s stupid, but it’s true. I don’t want to be struggling with 225 on the bench for a couple when some kid next to me is knocking out 10 while his friend films him #crushingit.
So I canceled my gym membership and turned a room in my house into a home gym. As an introvert, this is all I ever wanted. The Peloton bike, free weights, a bench, and all things yoga. No mouth breathers waiting for me to finish a set. No bros talking way too loud while high-fiving each other after every set. No techno tracks exploding my eardrums. Just me. And my fitness goals. In solitude.
It’s always there for me. If it snows, I don’t have to worry. If it’s raining, I don’t have to care. If I am feeling lazy, all I have to do is walk to another room. And if I can’t do that, why I am doing anything? The funny thing is, the second I sense its presence I get more motivated. I want to put a dot on the calendar. I want to challenge myself.
Some days presence is all that matters. Because the gym and getting to the gym are so easy to avoid. Because of work. Because of kids. Because I don’t want to go there today. Because, because, because. If I choose a because at home, it’s hard to rationalize. It’s right there. Staring at me. Telling me ever so subtly to get off my a** and go for a ride.
My first ride was on April 25, 2018. I’ve had good months and bad months. My life took hold of me some months and other months I prioritized all facets of my exercise routine. Right now I’ve settled into a comfortable routine, but it’s always different. Because every day there are more rides, more meditations, more yoga, more workouts. It doesn’t stop. And it keeps you fresh.
Some people find Peloton to be bougie. Or they think it’s not necessary. But for me, at 48, whatever works for me is good. Whatever keeps me healthy is great. Whatever helps keep me around for more years for my kids is f*cking amazing. The real question is whether or not the bike is worth it to me. You decide.
For the first hundred rides or so, I didn’t use any of the other exercising options. But since then I try to do the same things every day. And not for a long time each.
- Yoga (5–20 mins)
- Strength (5–10 mins)
- Pre-ride stretch (5 mins)
- Ride (15–30 mins)
- Post-ride stretch (5 mins)
- Meditation (5–10 mins)
It works for me. I can’t tell you if it would work for you, but there is no reason it shouldn’t. If you can hold yourself accountable and make this piece of equipment pay for itself in personal health trajectory, you will never be sorry. But if you don’t need it and like the gym and running outside, great. For me, and especially for introverts, it’s perfect. And now I am almost rebuilt. One ride at a time.
If you ride or exercise on Peloton and want to connect, you can find me at TrustGreene.
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