It didn't seem like a good omen when I couldn't find the spinning room at my gym. The room I had been accustomed to teaching and attending spin classes was mostly vacant, spare for a few giant tires and hefty ropes. Those damn cross-fitters had apparently pushed themselves into even the darkest corners where we had previously hidden the gym's red-headed step child they call group fitness classes. Finally, I opened the correct door (ding, ding, ding!) and was pleased to find an even better version of our old spin studio.
I breathed a sigh of relief, pleasantly surprised to find that even my cycling shows had made the transition to the new space unscathed. I shed my winter garb to expose my ill-fitting workout attire and instinctively climbed onto the instructor's bike at the head of the room, facing two wide rows of empty bikes. I turned the lights off, save two weak rows of rope lights along the side and back walls. There was a brief moment of gratitude that the room is free of mirrors as I started the music.
My hips felt immediately too wide for the seat, my butt bones (ischial tuberosities) struggled at first to support and balance the weight of my expanded ass. Quietly, I gave this foreign body basic instructions on leveling the pelvis and dipping toes slightly to connect with the pedals. It was a struggle, but eventually I was able to ignore the uncomfortable sensation of my thighs connecting with my flopping belly with each pedal stroke.
I settled into the music and coached myself to keep with the pace. The first few tracks, I found myself bombarded with excuses that have been offered so readily by others over the last few weeks.
t took me six months to get back to the gym after my c-section.
Take it very slow.
Don't push your body.
Be careful not to overdo it.
I tore my incision doing housework. (WTF??)
These thoughts clouded my brain and slowed my speed (oh shit, what if my incision busts open?) until I remembered the only advice I should really concern myself with: listen to your body, it will tell you when you're overdoing it (my doctor/the man who sliced me open in the first place).
The sensation I felt on that bike wasn't pain. It wasn't the sharp unzipping sensation I'd felt early in my recovery when I walked too fast or moved wrong in bed. What I was feeling was good old fashioned fatigue of both the legs and the lungs; the unavoidable affects of months of inactivity. All normal. All okay. All totally understandable and completely manageable.
By track 2, I was more relaxed. I nodded and spit some banter at the bike in the back left corner, dedicating the next climb to it's invisible rider. I winked at the center bike. The dialogue I typically bring to my classes played along in my head as I challenged them (me) to give just a little more and push just a bit harder. I assured them (me) that they (I) could do *anything* for 30 seconds (so sprint dammit!!). I smiled because I was unwrapping a part of myself I thought might have been dead and gone, and because I probably looked like a lunatic.
Track 4 left me feeling exhilarated, like I could kick this workout right in it's good-for-nothing pants without giving it a second thought. By the end of track 5 however, I was begging myself for mercy and wondering if I shouldn't just pack it up and go back home to my sweatpants and maternity tops. With only two more 'working tracks' left, that seemed a little silly, so I put my big girl pants on (which are significantly less comfortable than my sweatpants) and powered through the next two songs, falling a few beats behind at times and easing way up on the resistance.
When the cool down was done and the stretching was over, I mopped my bike and face with a towel and squeezed back into my workout jacket. The damage that my body incurred over the past 8 months suddenly seemed less debilitating and way less permanent. Sure, the hips will stay wide and wobbly in the saddle and the belly will flop around for a nice long while, but my determination and desire haven't suffered more than a few bumps and bruises. They have lived to fight another day.
And they will.