I had read about spin classes and they sounded dumb. Who would want to sit on a bike that doesn’t go anywhere for an hour? Not me. Plus, I had an exercise bike, a last ditch attempt at showing my then-boyfriend that I had exercise ambitions too, thank you very much.
When I started at gym I liked the idea of doing an RPM class. It was perfect for beginners to group fitness, according to the time table, and they even had a beginners class to help you learn how to set up a bike. For me, Miss Unco, this seemed perfect. On a Sunday morning I took my first class. I promised myself I wouldn’t walk out, even if it was really hard, and I kept my vow. Besides, halfway through the very notion of leaving left my mind completely. It was fun, it was pain, I might have sat on a bag of frozen peas for the rest of the day.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I didn’t do every RPM class every week, but I tried out almost every one I could fit into my uni schedule. Early mornings and Friday nights after my Creative Writing class were my time to be whoever this new version of myself was. After wearing flat soled surf shoes for a few months I decided to up my game and invest in my first pair of real shoes which were a dorky but comfortable pair of New Balance shoes.
Because of RPM I became an early riser some mornings. Some days I would get a lot more accomplished.
The music, by and large, was amazing. Don’t Bother by Shakira gave courage to my broken heart, You Give Me Something by James Morrison was something I sang walking around my flat. A quote from Rise Again by DJ Sammy was my MySpace banner which I lovingly crafted one rainy evening for hours on end.
RPM changed my life because it made everything better. I found new music and I found a space where I could be me. I didn’t have to share anything with anyone, most of the time I would walk in with a hoodie covering half of my face, and would finally peel it off at the end of the track. I suddenly craved water, and bought boxes and boxes of spring water after realising that it probably wasn’t good form to be topping up my water bottle before and after class from the gym’s water fountain.
Now, I won’t say I ever became good at RPM. I’m sill not great at it. But until I started doing that particular class, I had never really willingly done any type of exercise. Everything else had been out of obligation or peer pressure. This was my space and my time to be someone who didn’t belong to anyone. I learned to prioritise the classes and I learned to cherish them.
There were results, it took eight months for people to commenting on my body, but I never weighed myself (I could never afford a set of scales as a uni student) and I only really bought clothes according to what fits and what doesn’t, size is just a number after all. The results really didn’t matter. Eventually I worked up enough confidence to do different group fitness classes and try other things and buy better fitting gym clothes.
RPM is raw power in motion. I’d never been raw, or powerful, and the only motion I had cared about was how fast my little Telstar could crawl up hills on the freeway. I’d never been anything but slow, never set my own speed, never challenged myself until I tried sitting on a bike for seven long working tracks for 45 minutes. And now, twelve years later, I’m still grateful that I challenged myself. I’m a different person, and a better one, because of it.