She folded over the last piece of velcro on her shoes in the main lobby.
“Eww,” she had told Caroline earlier that day. “I’m not renting a pair of shoes from there. I’ll just buy my own.”
She had been preparing for the class for the better part of the day in between cleaning her apartment, walking Sperry through the park, and researching how to make your own almond milk.
When the time finally came – 5:45 on bike 9 – she arrived at the same time as Caroline, who had taken the class numerous times before her. She had, in fact, signed them both up. It was a new studio to her, but Caroline assured her it was just as nice as the one near her old apartment that became a staple before she moved.
“Blake is, like, my fave instructor,” Caroline explained to her ahead of their arrival.
And after checking her name off the list, putting on her shoes, and surveying the rest of the room, they both waited anxiously in the lobby for the class to start.
They were surrounded by what appeared to be several like-minded individuals – all wearing some combination of Lululemon, Adidas, and Nike; she was thankful that no other girls were wearing the same leggings she had decided were perfect for today’s class. They seemed to each be paired off – some with friends, some with acquaintances they clearly only knew through spin, and a few couples that contained a boyfriend who appeared as though he’d been dragged to the class.
“It’ll just be about two minutes!” Blake announced after peaking his head through the door to the class. “We’re almost done.”
They were wiping off the bikes from the class before, but the current class became more and more restless – all checking their Apple Watches trying to make sure they’d have enough time to adjust their bikes and clip in.
When the two minutes (which felt like an eternity) were finally up, the jockeying began to be the first to adjust their bikes. One by one, everyone entered the room. Caroline, on bike 19, wasn’t near her. She wasn’t totally front and center, but close enough that she knew her classmates would be looking at her to catch the beat.
Click went her right foot into the pedal just before spreading her towel over the handlebars. And click went her left foot into the pedal as she stretched her neck out.
As the lights dimmed, Blake took his position in front of the entire class.
“Welcome, 5:45,” he said deeply into his microphone while an ambient beat began playing from his laptop. Her legs began riding slowly with the beat with her resistance completely off. She looked over to Caroline who was having trouble with her left clip.
“Wow,” she laughed to herself. “That’s so embarrassing to have to have someone help you when the class has already started.”
She started getting into the swing of things. After all, it had been months, but nothing had really changed. The back corners were still filled with the out-of-shape rookies and she questioned whether her instructor was straight or gay, a thought she had during most of her classes prior.
The beat began to build before it went straight into The Chainsmokers’s “Something Just Like This (Don Diablo Remix)” for their first build. Upon turning the song on, Blake got off his bike and began walking around the dark room giving inspirational words of wisdom that were too muffled by the microphone to actually understand. All she could make out was, “This is your time…” before Chris Martin’s vocals overtook him.
She could feel the eyes fixated on her from behind. She looked at herself in the mirror at the front of the class and could see her shoulders moving perfect in-sync with the rest of the group.
“She said where’d you go, how much you wanna risk?”
The beat continued, and her feet paired perfectly with it.
She looked over at Caroline, who was now also in full swing. From what she could see in the mirror, the entire class was completely meshing (you know, outside of those back corners).
Blake got back onto his bike and turned the laptop towards him. He gave a few more muffled words of inspiration before Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” overtook The Chainsmokers. She began running through her head the natural progression of the class. She liked the slow builds but craved the sprints that she hadn’t done in months.
“This is only you,” Blake echoed through the room, “Take everyone else out of the equation – tonight is about you and only you.”
She shut her eyes and cleared her mind, except for the part of her brain that told her to have her right foot go down on each beat.
“Envision your hopes,” Blake continued, “Your dreams, your ambitions.”
Her eyes remained shut until she realized that she might have been offbeat. She opened her eyes and looked at the girl next to her in the mirror. “Fuck,” she muttered to herself. “This is so fucking embarrassing.”
But just when her feet began to fall back into motion with the rest of the class, Blake’s hand exploded off his laptop and a remix of Katy Perry’s “Firework” that she had never heard came onto the speakers, drowning out the sound of the wheels spinning.
“Four full rotations up,” Blake yelled into the microphone. “Dig deep, this is your time.”
Her feet began to pedal as fast as she possibly could, two full revolutions for every beat of the remix. She knew that in just moments she’d have to stand up and pump out about thirty seconds without sitting down, and the moment the chorus hit, it was time.
She brought her butt off the seat and began pedaling as hard as she could. The sprints were more difficult than she had previously remembered, but it wasn’t until Blake began delegating taps that she realized she wasn’t in the same shape she used to be in.
“Tap!” he yelled on the beat as everyone in the class brought their ass down to the seat and back up into their sprint.
“Tap!” he yelled again moments later, only to follow it up with ten more before slowing it down with “Malibu” by Miley Cyrus.
At this point, she was panting and struggling to keep up. She looked to Caroline who had her head down but was pedaling along with the rest of the class from 19.
“Pick up your weights,” Blake said to the class while Miley played lightly through the speakers. She reached down only to realize that on her weights had seemingly fallen off the bike during her sprint. “Fuck,” she audibly said only for no one to hear her because of the music.
Blake had both of his hands in the air, each with a weight in it. She mimicked him, but with a weight in only one hand. She was downright humiliated during the three-minute span when everyone else could clearly see her, in the front row, with one empty hand still doing the exercises.
As “Malibu” began winding down, Blake hovered in front of his laptop before trumpets overtook the speakers.
“Turn up the lights in here,” Rihanna sang, but Blake did the opposite. The lights cut out and the studio remained completely dark. Some stayed on beat while others fell behind.
Blake slowly asked, “Are… you… ready…” as the trumpets on Kanye West’s “All Of The Lights” kept playing in the pitch black. “This light,” Blake continued, “isn’t the light in the room – it’s the light within.”
She shut her eyes as Blake continued talking between Rihanna and Kanye’s vocals.
“At this moment in time, there is nothing but you. At this moment in time, you are the only thing that matters in the world.”
At this point, her eyes weren’t just shut – they were painfully clenched with sweat dripping down her cheeks.
“Imagine all you want in this world. Imagine your fears, your dreams, and pave a path for you to get there.”
She pedaled harder and harder while visions of the past two months – of fights, of uncertainty, of Todd – ran through her head. She now couldn’t tell if it was sweat on her cheeks or tears.
The last minute of the song wound down and she could tell the class was coming to an end. Still in the pitch black, she took her towel, slowed down her pace, and wiped down her face. The lights flickered on and she started pedaling slightly faster in hopes of no one noticing she had slowed.
“And that, 5:45, is your spin class,” Blake proclaimed with his arms stretched out. “Some of you can leave if you don’t want to stay for the stretching portion, but the others, you’re welcome to stay.”
She looked over to Caroline who was unclipping, so she thought she’d do the same. Getting off her pedals, she slid through the girls behind her and exited into the locker room. Caroline welcomed her with a tired high-five before asking, “Wait, are you crying?”
“No,” she laughed off, “I just got soooo much sweat in my eye during the last sprint.”
“Blake can get pretty emotional,” Caroline comforted her. “I totes get it.”
She wiped her face down yet again before sitting down to take off her brand new shoes.
“Trudy’s for a glass of vino? I think we can still make happy hour,” Caroline asked.
“Ugh,” she panted. “I thought you’d never ask. Mama’s thirsty.” .
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