[Editor’s Note: If you don’t know her, Susan Gelvin is a wry, keen observer of herself and her hometown and she writes extremely well, so I asked her recently to consider penning a regular column for NewCanaanite.com. Our editorial board is very pleased and proud today to introduce Susan as the news site’s first columnist. Here’s the debut installment of “Full Disclosure.”]
Through the years I have jogged up and down South Avenue countless times. At a certain point, it was exhilarating getting an encouraging honk from a driver-by. Even a whistle or two wasn’t terrible. But something eventually shifted to where a friend pointed out that she saw me “working off the Thanksgiving mashed potatoes” along South Avenue. So that’s when I felt a little too visible and vulnerable on our local thoroughfare. I needed a new workout venue—one that was off the beaten track and would allow me to age gracefully in private.
Getting old is funny business. Like the time I took kitchen shears and sliced the waistband of my ski pants to accommodate my expanding midsection. That was the first time in my life when any additional girth could not be attributed to pregnancy. Man, that was such a better justification than my current “I’ve just let myself go” excuse.
So, in an effort to curb said girth, I recently initiated some baby-step tactics to get me on the move to drop some poundage. Please note that any effort to become more active in the dead of a New England winter is what New Year’s Resolution failures and nightmares are made of. Yes, I would much rather power walk on a white sand beach, or hike up to a majestic peak. Alas, I am forced indoors with my fellow gym rats.
I decided to take control and attend a spin class at our local, newly renovated New Canaan YMCA. I was intrigued by talk of an underground spinning lair. It sounded like a rave for biking enthusiasts who had some sort of secret power to endure the pain of unforgiving, rigid bike seats. I found my way to the spinning suite-slash-bat cave and snatched up a gel seat cover—first thing’s first, comfort the nether regions. Then I moseyed over to a bike that was hiding in the cover of darkness and hurled myself aboard.
Naturally, I was a few minutes late to class, so I did not get a chance to warm up or adjust my seat—which, it immediately became clear, is the number one top priority. Since I have little to no upper torso, and am mostly comprised of legs, I could barely reach the handle bars. My instincts are pretty good when it comes to knowing when I am the weak link in a room, so I desperately scanned the biking abyss to see how everyone else was positioned.
On my left was New Canaan’s version of Lance Armstrong, who looked far too intense to replicate. The super fit, supermoms were up front, hungry for speed and prepared to slaughter virtual roadkill. I had to avert my eyes. My safe haven was the instructor, who was illuminated by a spotlight. I drank her in.
I sacrificed a water break to make adjustments, all while trying to exude the confidence of a professional fine-tuning her equipment. Handlebars finally in reach, I took off. The party music was pumping and the rotating fans blasted some much-needed cold air into the room. I was a vision. A spinning mistress of the dark. Hair blowing, legs whizzing, sweat racing down my…everywhere. And then I heard the instructor say, “Our warmup is done.”
Forty-five minutes later, I looked like someone had beaten me with a wet mop. I was nervous about negotiating the stairs to the exit with my spaghetti legs, but I had a great workout.
There is something to be said for working out in a dimly lit space. You can hide in the shadows and remain a mystery. Who was that woman in the corner grasping for her handlebars, suffering an asthma attack and drowning in her own sweat? No one has to know—it is my secret pact with the dark.