It’s time to turn our attention to some of the incredible female Paralympians who will be competing for Team GB. First up is cyclist Sarah Storey, OBE.
I’ve only belonged to one gym. The year was 1998 and I joined the Crunch in the West Village because my co-worker peer-pressured me into it. Jervis, my trainer, made me spend an inordinate amount of time with a rubber ball while chastising me for being out of shape and then handed me his business card on my way out. I was at a point in my life where I only liked the men I dated to make me feel like crap, so I never went back. (But, LUCKY YOU, I did save Jervis' card!)
Fast forward to last summer and my best friend, Meredith, who can't stop talking about her Monday spin class. “You HAVE to come with me,” she insists. “You’ll love Tom. I promise."
I am scared of spin class for about a million reasons, which include, but are not limited to: my fear of exercising en masse, my fear of exercising in enclosed spaces, and my fear of being judged by the people exercising en masse in enclosed spaces.
I’m not one of these girls who likes to be encouraged by hippy dippy positivity bullshit. I don’t want to hear “Great job!” in an exercise class or be told that I can do it exclamation point exclamation point.
Luckily, I can tell within the first three minutes of this spin class that Tom is the opposite of all of this. Instead of encouragement, he yells things like “WORK HARDER OR GET OUT.” There is no reward after climbing a long, steep “hill,” unless you count Tom ordering you to “Take it off” as a reward. Which I do. Sure, he's referring to the tension on the bike, but whatever. I’m not one to get stuck on logistics.
Ten months later, I’ve only missed Tom’s Monday spin class when I’m deathly ill or out of town. Meredith and I go to our favorite (half-price bottles of wine on Monday nights) restaurant after every class, except the one time she ditched me to go on a date, which I may or may not still hold a small grudge about. We're often joined by friends who, one bottle of wine into the meal, ask if we're planning on recapping spin class for the entire dinner. I mean, they say there are no stupid questions, but OBVIOUSLY YES. Now stop talking so Meredith and I can talk about whether or not we think Tom is banging that girl who always sits in the corner.
I look forward to is Tom yelling "GO FASTER!" and "WORK!" while leaning his foot on my front tire to make sure I'm not cheating. I look forward to how he makes us introduce ourselves to the person on the bike next to us and how he ends every single class by snapping his towel and saying, “Stretch yourselves and get outta here.”
In case this love letter hasn't driven the point home: My life is better with Tom.
So three weeks ago, when I hear him mumble something at the beginning of class about it being over soon, I almost fall off of my bike. I look around wondering if anyone else heard what I think I just heard, but no one is reacting. "Wait...What?!" I finally ask.
“Only two more classes after this, “ Tom says. And then, as though he hasn't just stepped on my soul with his neon-laced sneakers, tells us to “start climbing.”
I look over at Meredith’s crestfallen face and can only imagine that mine looks the same. After class, we're speechless, too upset to talk, not wanting to process the news we’ve just been given.
And then, before you can say "Oh my god is this girl STILL writing about her effing spin class?" this past Monday aka: Tom’s Last Spin Class Ever is upon us. Meredith and I meet at the gym early so we can be sure to get bikes together Then we huddle in a corner and pretended to do “arms” while taking turns signing his thank-you card and shoving a slightly exorbitant amount of cash into it. (Cash is how you show you care, hint hint. )
Class is a blur. Tom announces his goal is to make someone throw up. He plays sadder music than usual. We climb and we sprint. And then, just like that, it's time to stretch ourselves and get outta there.
We get off our bikes as slowly as possible, give Tom a hug, hand him our card, say goodbye and head to the shower.We chit-chat about boys and work and somehow manage to ignore the fact that our lives just changed forever.
Thirty minutes later, at the restaurant, I get a couple of missed calls from a 650 number. It's Tom.
Not only did he call both of us twice, he also sent us emails. Apparently, the card and cash were so sweet, but the cash was also “completely unnecessary and TOTALLY unacceptable.”
I'm not sure what sport/workout I'll try next (suggestions welcome!), but I guess it's not all totally tragic. I started an exercise-followed-by-wine tradition with my best friend, my ass looks pretty amazing, and, best of all, I found a way to get Tom to yell at me just one more time.