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My Gratitude Ride: Why I’m Blessed!

By Jennifer Sage On November 22, 2012 Under motivation, Theme rides

This morning, Thanksgiving Day 2012, I taught my 90-minute Gratitude Ride in my Spinning class. I just love, love, love this ride! I ask everyone to come with three things in mind that they are grateful for, and we focus on each one of those during three different segments of a long climb about halfway into the ride. When we focus on what we are grateful for, and not on the things we don’t have, we get more of the same and our lives are filled with even more abundance. It’s amazing how the universe works! But it’s also amazing at how effective this is during a cycling class.

Exercise, or any athletic effort, is such a wonderful way to express our love and gratitude, and Spinning classes present the perfect opportunity for this kind of focus and attention. We are in the moment of pushing ourselves, sometimes pretty hard, and that in and of itself is something for which we should all be grateful because there are many people who do not know how, or who refuse to push themselves beyond their comfort zone, either out of fear, or dare I say it, laziness. Yes, we should not take for granted that we love to sweat, that we love the strain of a muscle against a resistance, that we do not mind that almost breathless feeling of exertion as our hearts beat the drum in our chests and our lungs work hard to keep our muscles oxygenated. We not only do not mind having to talk ourselves into not quitting or letting up, we thrive on it.

We love the results, of course, especially when we can more easily button up our pants after a concerted 4–6 week period of commitment to exercise. But we also love the challenge, the suffering, and the mental fortitude we gain as a result of moving past our own comfort zones. We feel stronger mentally as a result of our commitment to work hard. All of this will transcend the Spinning, Pilates, or yoga studio or the weight room if we learn how to apply the lessons we learn there. All of our commitment to hard work in the gym can be applied to every other area of our lives: to our work, to our families and other relationships, to our other hobbies or sports. Anything in which we want to improve, we can extrapolate what we learn from our efforts on the bike.

This is one of the reasons why the Gratitude Ride is so beautiful. We are in the moment of doing what we love, and then as we ride a challenging segment, we allow our thoughts to turn to other things that bring us joy. We are already in a state of bliss; we simply open our hearts to include our other passions. Doing so fills you with maximum joy* as you climb!

[*I use the 10-minute song “Maximum Joy” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood on this segment of the ride! It’s absolutely perfect. How many other exercise classes let you choose a song that perfectly matches your objective and your message?]

After 90 minutes of this kind of focus, you will always leave the class with a huge smile on your face; a smile borne from the combined hard work and realization of how blessed you are for your fitness, for your love of physical effort, for your family, for your friends, and for all the other things for which you are grateful.

Why I Am Blessed

Near the end of the Gratitude Ride this morning, during the second song of our final 12-minute climb, I put on the song “Now We Are Free” (Andy and the Lamboy Club Mix), an almost 8-minute remix of the song from Gladiator. During this segment I give everyone the opportunity to climb the hill however they want. I ask them to listen to their hearts and work as hard or as easy as they want or need to. They can sit, they can stand, they can do both, they can push it to the top, they can ride it easily—whatever. I tell them to bring to mind all that we have thought about during the ride, and to wrap all those things up in a beautiful package that will be waiting at the top. And then I say, “I’ll see you at the top in seven minutes.” I turn the lights down, the music up, let them go, and we just climb.

I, too, used this segment for reflection, because they didn’t need me to coach them—I’d already given them everything they needed to make it to the top. Here are some of the things that crossed my mind—I must have looked kind of silly with such a big grin on my face as I climbed!

  • Look what I get to do! I get to lead people through hard workouts, help them improve their lives and meet their goals, and I get to ride my bike along with them. I am now in my 16th year of being able to do this!
  • Did I mention I’m getting paid for this? 😉
  • I looked down at my legs as they pushed against the pedals rhythmically. Fit legs, strong, lean, and consistent. For that I am always grateful. This a result of all the years of hard work—and I will never cease to be grateful to Johnny G for creating this thing called Spinning® that allows me to ride, ride, ride all year.
  • As a result of my continuing involvement in this industry for 16 years now, look at where it’s brought me. To ICA, the indoor cycling business I created (from the ashes of having to leave my last business very quickly due to an unpleasant situation)! Look what comes from obstacles and challenge! Look what the Indoor Cycling Association has become after only 18 months—the premier indoor cycling resource for instructors. Worldwide! Damn, that’s cool! Just knowing I’ve had such a positive impact on instructors around the world is what keeps me going.
  • As a result of ICA, I get to travel the world, I get to meet the most amazing people in the process. I learn from the instructors I meet who share their experiences with me. And I get to work with other amazing instructor/coaches like Tom Scotto of Cycling Fusion.
  • I am grateful for cycling outside, and how indoor cycling keeps me in tip-top shape for when I want to go climb an epic ride outdoors. This summer it helped me up several big climbs in the Vosges mountains of France.
  • And then I thought of my husband who was sitting out there on a bike in this class, and for his patience as I have been growing this business…because I know I could not have done it without him. I was reminded that our bike tour to France this summer was for our tenth anniversary. *sigh* Am I lucky or what?!
  • And then I reflected on the meal I was about to go home and prepare for family and friends who were joining us to celebrate this wonderful holiday. And I turned up the resistance to burn just a few more calories!

And all of this is a result of riding a bike indoors that doesn’t go anywhere except in our very creative heads.

I am truly blessed!

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