By: Ava Taylor
‘Namaste’ to all the yogis and ‘cheers’ to my less flexible comrades. I’m Ava, the yoga newbie on the Grip The Mat team. I think I’ve got the basics on lock-down dog, warrior, even some chair pose - but I’m here to take a deeper dive into the yoga and fitness world with a fresh set of muscles and a glass of wine not too far away.
As a novice to yoga but not to socializing, hopefully I can share a little insight to help break down some of the trepidation around the more anxiety-inducing aspects of yoga/fitness for those beginners like me. Or it could just be a good way to chuckle at the trials of a newbie.
Follow me as I attempt to break a sweat (but not my bod) at the funkiest fitness spots in town! And don't be afraid to share your toughest fitness moments in the comments below. Let's laugh about it together.
Cycling is a little too bougie for me – why not just ride your bike around and experience the outdoors like the inventor of the bicycle intended? If regular cycling classes are my NorthFace-wearing, PSL-sipping peers, SoulCycle is the private-jet-flying, Coachella-VIP-pass-buying, insta-famous semiceleb that we all hate/love to stalk. And I agreed to attend an 8 AM SoulCycle class with the Grip the Mat team on a Saturday! My sleepy brain screamed “GO BACK TO BED!”, but my body was long overdue for a workout.
I walked in about 15 minutes early to make sure I had time to get myself acquainted to a new...well, everything. The chipper, yellow-clad staff behind the counter upped her surprisingly-genuine enthusiasm even more when I told her I was a newbie. She even gave me special shoes to wear!
I quickly realized that I was even less prepared than I thought. Those cool new shoes? They LOCK you into the bike. No escape and no backing out. The instructor? A beautiful, seemingly late-twentysomething with the most unbelievable abs I’ve ever seen. (I later found out she is, in fact, 40 YEARS OLD and absolutely killing the game. Intimidation level = DANGEROUSLY high). And the bikes were so close to each other I could touch at least five people without lifting my butt off the bike. Hello, full judgement zone. I even lowered my seat more than recommend so fewer people would see my sweaty ponytail trying and probably failing to get through the class.
As the class swung into full gear, it wasn’t as bad as expected – the cycle-dancing we were doing was actually invigorating and the “be the best you” messages didn’t sound so corny after a while. As much as I wanted to stay an outsider, they must have slipped a little Kool Aid in my two free Smartwater (score!) because I was starting to FEEL it.
What really got me through the experience was the playlist. When Edge of Seventeen came on and I was mouthing the words along with my girl Stevie and doing the little hand movements on the handlebars while using my core to peddle and I was like, WHOA. Is this fun? Am I enjoying myself? WHAT IS THIS FEELING?
Gratefully, I didn’t have too much time to analyze the moment because, before I knew it, it was over. Just like that. Forty-five minutes came and went and, although my face was a shade of red akin to Clifford the Big Red Dog, I didn’t feel like the physical embodiment of death. I felt…cleansed? At the very least, relieved it was over. I had done it! I had climbed over the hump of intimidation – just like we climbed the invisible mountain in class – and actually enjoyed myself.
While the vibe was definitely more cult-like than any fitness class I’ve ever experienced and probably not something I will ever do again, I weirdly missed it afterwards. But that wave of emotion was quickly squashed with the LARGE egg and cheese bagel I purchased and stuffed my face with post-workout.
Cheers and Namaste,