Monday, February 18, 2019

I Might Have Joined a Cult

It is about to get all mushy and fangirly up in here. If you love Peloton, you should read this. If you don't, and especially if you find Pelofanatics obnoxious, you should probably move along because you are just going to judge me and I am just going to annoy you. Also, this is probably going to be a long one

Cool? Cool. Now that that is out of the way, guess where I was this weekend?

Me standing in front of the Peloton storefront in NYC. I loook absurdly excited.
In New York! At the Peloton Studio! With 70 of my closest friends!
Last May, just before I had my knee surgery, I bought a Peloton spin bike. I'd done and liked spinning years and years ago when I lived in California, but hadn't done any indoor cycling for a long time. But I liked the idea of live rides and the accountability it could give me. I also liked the idea of having a machine in my bedroom where it would be easy to hop on it. I also liked the idea of being able to sit down while exercising, because what's not to like about that?

I also knew that I wouldn't be able to run after surgery for a while and I was hopeful that a Peloton would keep me working out in a lower impact way. (Spoiler: It did. Honestly, it probably saved my sanity and a lot of weight gain when I was off my knee.)

I worked out on the bike fairly regularly for the first month and a half or so that I had it (after taking off about two weeks post-surgery) and joined the main Peloton online Facebook group and read obsessively until I saw a post about a smaller Facebook group, the Peloton Monthly Challenge Tribe (PMCT), which caps membership at 250 and is all about accountability and setting challenges for yourself. I requested to join but figured it would be a while because the group was so small and I knew that they sometimes have a waitlist.

I was ridiculously excited when I was tagged in a post a few days later welcoming me to the group starting in July and telling me to set some goals and start posting about them. And also do them. Oh shit.

I had no idea what that group would become to me. 

Cut to several months later when people in PMCT started talking about their February HRI (aka "home rider invasion") wherein they travel to NYC and ride in the Peloton studio. I noted it and then noted my social anxiety and moved on. But then they talked more and more about it and finally someone put up a post asking for names of people who were not already on the list but were thinking about going and my FOMO trampled right over my social anxiety and I put my name in.

And then I said to Alex, "Hey, do you think it would be crazy if I went to New York on Valentine's Day to ride with my Facebook group over the weekend?" and his face went through a whole bunch of expressions and then settled on a smile and he said something supportive and encouraging and so I was in!

PMCT scheduled tribe rides and events from Friday through Sunday, but I decided to go for just Friday and Saturday. So instead of my traditional Valentine's Day dinner out with Alex, on Thursday I climbed on to a Tripper bus and headed to New York.

The next morning I stepped into the hotel elevator to meet PMCTers in the lobby to walk to the studio together and there were two of them right there. We were all wearing matching tribe shirts so it was easy to spot each other. I was a little concerned because I didn't really know anyone and I still felt like a newbie to the tribe, but I shouldn't have worried because those were just the first hugs and new friends of the weekend. Seriously, it's a cool group of people.

My ride in the studio that day was a milestone—my 250th Peloton ride—so I was pretty excited. A lot of other tribe members also had milestones, some as high as 1000.  That is a lot of miles. We were doing an 80's ride with JJ (Jennifer Jacobs to you non-Pelopeeps).

I was so curious about what it would be like to ride in the studio. I was in the front row of bikes so was pretty sure that when I barfed I would be lucky enough to be caught on camera. Happily that did not happen. (Neither barfing nor being caught on camera.) I did, however, sweat an incredible amount. It is really hot in there. JJ made me feel better about myself though because she also sweated a lot.

Me and JJ. I am covered in sweat, she looks perky and fresh.
She had better clothes for it though. And better abs. And better...lots of things.
She was SO nice. PMCT riders had every bike in the studio for that ride and she could not have been more gracious, both during and after. She took time with everyone and waited to take photos with anyone who wanted one. And everyone wanted one.
Photo of PMCT riders with JJ and a screenshot of her instagram story with the same photo.
We even made her Instagram story! (I'm in the back row on the right.)
Some of us even went back a second time because we wanted a photo with balloons proclaiming our milestone numbers.

Photo of me and JJ holding giant silver balloons that say "250"
It's too bad I wasn't happier about the whole thing.
After that, we all headed to brunch where we got to know each other a little better and ate things like avocado toast. I'd managed to get this far in my life without eating avocado toast, but my number was finally up.

Photo of avocado toast
I texted this photo to Alex because he's always going to New York and eating hipster stuff like avocado toast and sending me photos. His response? "Fuck you." Apparently DOJ was a bit of a shitshow that day and he was a little jealous.
At brunch I learned that some people were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge that afternoon and I thought that sounded super fun so I muscled my way in and joined the group. I didn't get anyone's permission to post their photo, so I won't share the group photos we took, but I'm looking at them as I write and those people are all so beautiful and nice. I was so happy to be among them.

I even rode the subway again. In case you're counting, that's TWO times. I have my very own Metro card now, just like a real adult person who travels to New York City. I still don't think I'm brave enough to use it by myself though. I have a lot of thoughts about the DC Metro, but at least the lines are easy to figure out. The NYC subway map is completely indecipherable to me.

Collage of photos of the Brooklyn Bridge
The bridge was a simple Point A to Point B walk so I couldn't get lost.
Immediately after all of this socializing, food, and exercise I went back to my hotel room and took a nap. Because I'm me. And of course I did.

We had a happy hour social event  that night that led into karaoke. You guys, I haven't been to karaoke in years. It was a triiiiiip. It was really nice to be able to meet more people and have some good conversations with them. There is a wide variety of people in this tribe and everyone I met was smart, kind, and had something important to say. Friday was definitely a day well spent.

When the schedule for HRI went up a month or so ago, I got really excited and scheduled myself for three rides on Saturday before my return home at 5pm. Oy. When I couldn't fall asleep Friday night and loooked up at the clock at 12:19am, I felt a little concerned about the whole thing. Regardless, I woke up alert and ready Saturday morning because my first ride was with Christine. If you ride Peloton, you probably know how amazing Christine is. She is a bike racer and a badass and all about body positivity and I LOVE HER.

Selfie of me in the studio with Christine on her bike in the background
She's there! She's right there!
This was the 2/15/19 8am 90's ride. You should ride it on demand if you can. I already have. She made a special playlist just for us and she was ON FIRE. This ride was everything. Christine is smart and encouraging and incredible and is all about believing in yourself and understanding that your body was built for something. I loved hearing her say, "Bigger or smaller, it doesn't matter. Let's all just be a little bit stronger." Hell yes.

The 45 minutes absolutely flew by and then she completely undid me at the end of class. When I re-rode it, I took a video of what she said in the last minute of class because in the studio it set me off sobbing. In public. In a spin class. Who the fuck am I?

The audio would be better if I'd been smart and stopped pedaling, but I've been well trained to keep moving.

She really speaks to me and what she said at the end was a thing I believe about this bike and the community it is building—not just my tribe but many, many more. This bike gave me people. I have worked out for years. I run by myself and will race with just a few other people whom I know well and whom I love. But I run partly because I can run alone. I Peloton because I can do it in my home. And this bike and PMCT gave me the courage to go to New York and walk into a group of seventy people and say hello. And it doesn't matter if I'm chubby or anxious or anything else because I am brave. And my body was made for something—and it is good at what it does.

There was a group photo with Christine after this ride, but I skipped it because I badly wanted an individual photo with her and had limited time before my next class, so I lurked at the front of the line. She was everything she is in class and more. She hugged me immediately. I told her I loved her and I love what she stands for and she told me she is glad that I hear her—that I hear what she is saying.
Me and CDE in front of the Peloton logo wall.
She seems like a really genuine, lovely person.
And then I floated away, happy as could be into my 9am disco class with Hannah. Fun fact: Hannah doesn't sweat. She is adorable and amazing and after class gave me posing tips.
Me and Hannah in front of the Peloton logo wall.
"Put your shoulder down," she said. She was right.
I don't ride with Hannah a lot, but I love her stretching and strength workouts. She has a very calm presence. I was also amused because she posted a video that day in her Instagram story that was just her head under our tribe's milestone balloons, which lived in the studio all weekend. I laughed really hard when I saw it.
Hannah's head in front of our silver number balloons.
Everyone loves balloons.
I wandered around with some new friends after those classes to find food and then went back to my room to shower and pack. I had to check out prior to my last class, which was a one-hour Power Zone ride with Matt.

Don't tell him, but after two rides that morning, I'm not sure that I hit all the zones I was supposed to get to. I ride Matt's long Power Zone rides all the time at home, so I was totally stoked to ride with him live. He seems like a chill, genuinely nice dude and I really like riding with him.
Photo of the PMCT group in front of the store with Matt and a photo of just he and I inside by the logo wall.
He also couldn't have been nicer to our group.
When I first got my bike, I never imagined that I would be a person who would ride in the studio, but it was a really special experience. I'm a little worried that I'm going to get obsessive and need to ride with every instructor eventually. (Well. Not that worried. Kind of excited, actually.)

The studio itself is nice. The locker rooms are clean and have plenty of lockers. The showers have shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in them and the bathroom stall doors are floor to ceiling, which is one of the best design decisions anyone can make. They have all kinds of little things that make the experience cool, like they supply bottles of water for rides so you don't have to remember yours and they have little dishes of ear plugs in case the studio is too loud and hairbands because everyone forgets their hairband sometimes.

Obviously this all costs money. (Although the studio has free walk-in classes, so that is always an option.) The Peloton bike is not cheap. In addition to buying a bike and shoes and paying for delivery, you have to pay a monthly subscription fee. I have every kind of privilege to have this bike. But I could not love it more. The monthly subscription includes classes in yoga, stretching, strength workouts, non-bike cardio workouts, and treadmill workouts. In fact, Peloton has their own treadmill now, called a Tread. I have a treadmill. I hate running on the treadmill. I badly want a Tread. I am ridiculous. If any of you are considering buying a Peloton, I have a referral code that will get you some free stuff, so hit me up.

After all of this, I headed off to catch my train. In a miraculously wonderful turn of events, my bus home was canceled, so I got to use a way better mode of transportation. That said, I did bring a little bit of Stimey to the situation by dropping a soda all over the floor in Penn Station, like a total rube.
Sunset photo out my train window and a selfie of me on the train.
Riding off into the sunset. Also known as New Jersey.
I had so many good conversations this weekend, some about Peloton, some about life, all about real, honest things that matter. I laughed SO much. I am so glad to have been able to get to know the people in this tribe and I feel like acquaintances have turned into friends. This tribe is a really incredible thing and I am so grateful for its wonderful founders. This weekend really made me feel like I am part of something. I already have HRI weekend for next year blocked off on my schedule and I am staying for the whole thing. They are going to have to pry me out of New York with a chisel.
Me in the studio after Matt's ride. I'm right up against a mirror, so you can see my reflection too.
Me on bike one after Matt's ride. Those are my peeps in the background.
One big reason I went to HRI was because I wanted to be able to link people to their Facebook posts. I have a hard time connecting with names on Facebook when I don't know the people. I never realized how nice everyone would be. New PMCT friends: thank you. I started to list names of the wonderful people I met this weekend, but the list got really long and then I was afraid I forgot someone. Here's the thing: If you were at HRI, thank you. I was freaked out to commit to coming and my anxiety was super ramped up in the days leading up this weekend.  But it was so worth it.

On her 90's ride, CDE asked, "How do you want to live your life? Afraid? Or afraid and going anyway?"

I'm going anyway. And you're coming with me.

Me in the studio in front of the Peloton logo wall
My leaderboard name guessed it: Stimey!