Tag Archives: yoga

Spinning Out of Control

15 Feb

What’s happening to me now is what I imagine hell must be like. I’m sitting on a bike going nowhere, doing ten seconds of intense peddling, ten seconds of rest, ten seconds of intense peddling, ten seconds of rest, to a modified version of Ke$ha’s “Timber” in which the already annoying refrain is being repeated over and over and over again. I’m sweating. I’m almost hyperventilating. I’m spinning.

When I first heard about spinning classes, I had a mental image of women pirouetting in a ballet room as some sort of latest-hype exercise. I had been going on the stationary bikes at my gym for a few months now and, after learning the truth about what spinning really is a few years prior, I figured that it would probably be a good idea to actually partake in some of the fitness classes that had tempted me enough into buying a gym membership in the first place.

I used to be really shy about being the new person in any type of fitness class. After practicing yoga in college, however, I learned the benefits of telling instructors when you were new. Pretending that you know the basics of yoga only to start off doing them completely wrong can build bad habits and even hurt your body. Equipped with that knowledge, I walked into the spinning room, sat down on a bike in the very back next to another girl, and immediately raised my hand when the instructor walked in.

I explained to the instructor that I was new to spinning and asked his recommendation on what height I should set my bike seat at. This man, after correctly guessing that I was 5’9, adjusted my seat so incredibly high that I was practically towering over the other bikers settling into the room. It felt pretty odd, but he insisted that it was the perfect height for my long legs. Whatever, not the first time that I’ve felt uncomfortable in a fitness situation (not sure what I mean? Talk to any person who was nerdy in high school).

spinning class

I settled into my seat and immediately started scoping out the other attendees. The girl next to me was the only young person besides me there – everyone else was in their forties and fifties and seemed in very good shape. To my amazement, some people were actually already powering away on their bikes even though the class was ten minutes away from starting! I spent the next few minutes talking to the girl next to me, learning that this was her first class at the gym and her first spinning class since college. Good, I thought, we can completely suffer through this together.

Then the fun began. The lights dimmed, the fake traffic light in the room lit up, and the instructor put on a microphone and started up his playlist.

The first ten minutes or so were great. I was here biking, doing my thing, enjoying the upbeat music and mentally patting myself on the back for remembering to bring a bottle of Gatorade and a sweat towel.

“Okay everyone, the next minute is going to be thirty seconds standing up, thirty seconds sitting down. Let’s go!”

I realized this meant that I actually had to stand up on what was already an extremely elevated bike seat and continue peddling in a standing position. I instantly knew it was going to hurt very, very much.

So here I am, standing up and peddling, watching the pros do it like it wasn’t a big deal at all. After about five seconds, I realize that my legs can’t take it anymore. I try to sit back down, only to realize the true meaning of the word ‘spinning’ – the bike peddles will literally continue spinning because they are tied to weights. As I try to lower myself down, I feel my legs completely fly out of the grips, and I hold on for dear life as my body almost falls off the seat. The peddles are spinning at the speed of light, and I wait until they slow down to place my feet in them again.

This exact scenario repeats itself four more times, and I’m too terrified to even look at the instructor because I’m pretty sure he’s laughing.

Meanwhile, the pros in this class put my already embarrassed self to shame: they aren’t breaking a sweat, they are actually smiling, which is horrific given the situation, and one of the men is even clapping his hands in the air as he is riding like a steroid-pumped seal.

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Thirty minutes go by and I realize that it’s probably best to just forget the whole standing up thing. Before I know it, the instructor has hopped down from his bike at the front of the room and is tightening the grips on my feet. The grips had adjustors. Instructors, these are probably things you should tell first-timers at spinning so we don’t find ourselves practically spread-eagle on a bike with the peddles spinning out of control. Just, you know, putting that out there.

The rest of the class is comprised of me staring at the clock and trying to remind myself that I’m not having a heart attack. My heart feels like it is beating so incredibly fast that it’s going to pop out of my chest. My mouth tastes like bile. My legs feel like they will never, ever walk again. I am never bitching about doing chair poses in yoga again, I said to myself. I’d take that pain over spinning any day.

Amazingly, I made it through the entire hour and biked a total of 15.50 miles – that’s two more miles than it takes for me to drive to work every morning. The instructor walked up to me and asked how I liked the class, and I told him that I both loved him and hated him at the same time for putting me through that, to which he nodded sagely.

All in all, my first spinning class was slightly nerve-wracking and, like most things I do, didn’t go exactly right. The whole experience was really enjoyable, though, because I realized how far I’ve come. I used to actually cry about embarrassing sports-related situations like that in gym classes when I was younger, and I never felt confident in my ability to challenge my body. Now, I know that I’m able to try new things that I would have probably had panic attacks over during my elementary school gym days.

I walked out of the gym sweat-soaked and completely exhausted. Walking right next to me was the girl in my class, and we spent a few minutes talking to each other about when we joined the gym, what we did for work, what schools we went to, etc. She asked if I would come back and do more classes and, despite everything that happened, I said yes. And that’s the best thing about gyms, really – for a girl who dreaded P.E. all her life, my gym has some of the nicest, most supportive people. I wish I could have told my fifth grade self that pushing your physical boundaries shouldn’t be embarrassing, and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to be perfect . No matter how retarded you look, there will always be someone there to cheer you on. And that, to me, proves that this world really does spin in the right direction.

Employees get just as crazy as their customers!

20 Jun

After almost two months of being a college grad, I must admit that life has become more enjoyable. After four years of intense studying, club joining, and sorority dropping out-ing, I finally have had the time to do whatever I want to without worrying about working through a balance sheet from hell (fuck you, accounting) or speed-walking across the library in order to snag a spot at the coveted table in the library that is hidden away among ancient micro-fiches and yellowing copies of The New York Times. Now, I am spending time doing things that I thoroughly enjoy, including learning how to juggle, feeding the homeless downtown every Friday and blasting Beirut while walking around my neighborhood. Heck, I even baked brownies at midnight yesterday after sweating my ass off in yoga just because I could!

Check out my balls, yo

While my personal life has become simple and enjoyable, Retail Robot land has increased in sheer craziness. Our store has been spitting out 20-30% off coupons left and right, and it seems like for each coupon corporate sends out, one more batshit crazy customer appears out of nowhere. The most enjoyable part about working in such a hectic environment is the fact that the employees, myself included, start to get a little loopy when things get too busy.

Last weekend, for example, I barely survived my eight hour shift. I came to work only to discover that the air conditioning in our store wasn’t working. Combined with the fact that I was dizzy from the antibiotics I was on (gotta love sinus infections!), I was sweating, trying to keep my balance which is hard enough for me to normally do and ringing up customers who seriously had the weirdest questions I’d ever heard. Luckily I was working with my favorite co-worker, and we basically lost it after a particularly old lady strolled up to the counter and…

Old Lady: How far can I take this cart?

Me: Oh, you can take it outside as long as you–

Co-worker: Twenty-five feet. You can only take it twenty-five feet.

Me: Yep, after that it–

In unison: EXPLODES.

As we gripped the counter in order to keep ourselves from rolling around the floor and crying with laughter, the old lady simply looked at us, stroked her fully-whiskered chin, and walked away. Yes, we were that loopy.

Other exciting highlights included a man walking around with what appeared to be either very short patterned shorts or just boxers, an entire family who walked into a window thinking that there was an automatic door there, and me doing the yearly employee satisfaction survey for my old store number without realizing it until a few days later.

In the midst of all the craziness, both from employees and customers, life seems a lot better lately. Heck, even the amount of shoplifted items seems to have gone down!

The only shoplifted thing I found this week. It was most likely hidden in between the fat folds of a larger customer. I know.. I'm mean.

I’m the reason you are grounded this month

15 Apr

Robots get stressed too, ya know

As my last semester of school is finally coming to a close, I have become more stressful than usual. Between dealing with my lazy group project members (one of which was unable to do one powerpoint slide because he was busy with Greek Week…no comment) and sitting through classes where my professors talk about absolutely nothing, I can safely say that I am ready to graduate without any real job prospects. I figure that the suffering that I have endured this semester has to be on a much grander scale of pain than, say, being jobless and homeless.

Last Saturday, however, added immensely to the stress I was already experiencing. I had been scheduled to work with my favorite person, Dudley. The other girl called off for the night, so we were the only two people in the store ringing for eight hours straight. I hadn’t worked with Dudley in quite a while, and he made up for lost time by shoving sunflower seeds into his mouth–with most of them missing his mouth completely–and telling me about how he was thinking about going back to school to become a nuclear mechanic while I stood there trying to keep a straight face. In the midst of me scanning 100 items a minute and calming down a few customers after Dudley had offended them, I experienced something that really made me feel like I was a part of some weird retail after-school special.

While I was scanning, the phone rang and I picked it up. The woman on the other end asked me what Swisher Sweets were, and I explained that they were flavored cigars and cigarillos.

Woman: Ohh….oh no.

Me: What’s wrong?

Woman: Oh no….can I ask you something? How old are you?

Me: 22.

Woman: Okay, I found a Swisher Sweet wrapper in my daughter’s car. She’s 18 and has health problems, and she’s trying to fit in way too much. Should I confront her about this? I’m a therapist and I just…I don’t know what to do.

Never in my job training had I been shown how to deal with dilemmas such as this one, and never in my life had I ever thought that a therapist would come to me of all people for advice. I mean come on–I work at a drug store–obviously I’m not sane.  I told her that I didn’t know what to tell her except that I would give her daughter the benefit of the doubt and assume that the wrapper was her friend’s. The mother just laughed and said, “Oh no, I wouldn’t give her the benefit of the doubt.” She proceeded to ask me what she should say to her.

After telling her that the best thing to do was to talk to her daughter and wishing her luck, I hung up the phone and shook my head in disbelief. Since when had my store become the new teen help hotline? Dealing with a mother who is concerned about her daughter smoking cigars–or cigars with other things in them–was never something that they showed me when I watched the job training VHS’s, with their warped music and actors portraying employees that are way too overzealous to be real, on my first day of work.

Later on in the day, everybody was rushing (you know what I mean, Rebecca Black) and I started to feel really overwhelmed and slightly bitter to everyone. My shift ended well, however, thanks to a really sweet elderly customer that I had toward the end of the night. I left Dudley to ring out our line of ten customers and helped her to grab a package of Depends. When she asked me if I could put them in her car and I said yes, she seemed surprised that I was so willing to do it, and when she asked me to fold up her walker and put it in her car, she seemed even more amazed that I was helping her out and wouldn’t stop thanking me. I walked back into the store, and the long line of impatient customers, with a small smile (or “Buddha smile” as my yoga teacher calls it) on my face because I was once again reminded, like I always am, why I continue to work my once-a-week eight hour shift: I love helping people. And yes, sometimes helping people means that I don’t know what to say or that their daughter may end up getting grounded for life based on my opinions, but at the end of the day it’s about stepping out of the “me me me!” track of mind that I, and most of us, are on and putting my heart out there for someone else.

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