The very first fitness certification I ever got, even before my personal training cert, was Spinning. It took me about three classes to fall head over heels in love with indoor cycling, and I knew I wanted to teach it and provide that experience to other people too. No wonder, a dozen years later, I still put it at the top of my list.
As she gazes lovingly at her Peloton bike.
Anyway, the training to be a Spinning instructor is pretty specific and in-depth. It’s not just, like, turn the lights down, turn the music up, yell a lot, and push people harder. It’s actually a crash course in how to replicate being a good cyclist indoors so that you can be a good cyclist outdoors—which was why Spinning was created in the first place.
Setup is a huge piece of this. Your seat height and forward adjustment are hugely important, so is your handlebar height. Even where you fix your gaze is important in cycling, not only for comfort and to prevent injury (helloooooo, repetitive motion), but also for optimum power output and efficiency.
And form, of course, is one of the biggest things I remember my instructor harping on, and one that I always did too when I was teaching. Your center of gravity should always be over the pedals. And your handlebars exist only basically because they have to—they’re not your support, so stop leaning heavily on them. Your core and legs are where the magic happens, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. That’s part of why we’re doing this.
I was reminded of all of this last week as I was riding and just generally having a rough go of it. I think I was a little tired and stressed, but still wanted to get my workout in. I was getting a little sloppy because it was tough. Lazy legs. Leaning on the handlebars heavily.
And then I reminded myself that I could only lean so much. The whole point of this literal exercise was to do it under my own power, so I could in turn generate even more of it for myself. I readjusted my body position over the pedals, loosened my grip, and shifted into just a light touch on the handlebars. Instantly, I felt the difference. Instantly, I felt better, stronger.
I kept repeating to myself, light touch, light touch, light touch. And when I finished the class, I kept thinking, light touch, light touch. What else in my life can be improved by taking a light touch?
I can definitely be heavy handed kind of woman. I get into something, I grab on, and I squeeze tightly. I do it at work, I do it personally, I do it with myself. I don’t think I’m the only one.
We can be heavy handed in our expectations of ourselves and everything we need to be doing every day.
We can be heavy handed in our expectations for other folks in our lives and everything they need to be doing every day.
We can be heavy handed in our expectations for our bodies and how they look, how we treat them, what they should be able to do.
We can be heavy handed in our expectations of how fast things should be happening for us, or how easily change should come.
But truly, what would happen if we lightened our grip in one, or all, of those places? Where could a lighter touch help? How can a lighter touch benefit us and everyone else we encounter?
In cycling, the heavy hand on the bars ultimately comes at the expense of getting stronger. The lighter touch actually requires more effort, but it definitely encourages greater payoff and better outcomes in the end. I think the same is true in life.
We can grip and grip, trying to hold on—to some power, some control, some comfort—but what we’re really doing is losing the sense of it. A lighter touch allows for more perception, which leads to strength and growth.
I am by no means greatly skilled in this just yet, but I’m learning. Every time I feel myself gripping tighter, I’m reminding myself to release a little. Light touch, light touch. And I want to gently remind you to do the same.
Release a little. That in itself takes effort. But in that effort, you will begin to perceive and receive the strength you’re seeking.
And that, my friend, is where your power lies.
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