Hi! I’m Abby, an indoor cycling instructor at StarCycle Lake Oswego.
Like many people, I have worked out on and off throughout my entire life. I did ballet, Pilates, kickboxing, weight lifting, running—I tried it all. Some workouts I enjoyed, others not so much.
The routine I landed on was three gym workouts and one yoga class per week, but I had always believed that I would never be that person. I would never “love” working out or feel the cult-like adoration for a particular type of exercise class that some of my friends had.
My First Real Foray Into Indoor Cycling
One day, I decided to change things up. I downloaded the ClassPass app and signed up for a few different fitness classes in Eugene, Oregon, where I lived at the time. One of those exercise studios was StarCycle Eugene.
To be perfectly honest, I was not super excited about it at first. I had tried other indoor cycling classes, and some of them were okay. But I had seen reality TV shows where people go to a crowded, bougie indoor cycling studio lit up with screens and a boot camp-style instructor yells at them. This was my basic nightmare, but I decided to try it anyway.
The first thing I noticed was that the lobby was sleek and bright and the staff was welcoming and friendly. When I entered the studio, it was dark and candlelit. There were no screens in sight. The instructor made an effort to learn my name.
Then, the music was loud and bumping. The message throughout the class was encouraging and inspiring. I found it to be just the right amount of challenging, and I left the studio dripping in sweat and optimism. I realized I could be that person after all, and I couldn’t wait to go back.
Two and a half years, a global pandemic, and 250 rides later, I became a StarCycle instructor at the StarCycle Lake Oswego studio.
From just after my first ride in February 2020 to post-instructor training in June 2022.
6 Things I’ve Learned from Riding at StarCycle
Here are six things my indoor cycling journey has taught me.
1. Don’t stop until you find your thing.
As I mentioned above, I had tried many different types of workouts before I made it to StarCycle, including other indoor cycling classes. But it took finding the right studio at the right time with the right instructors for me to find my fitness groove.
So if you’re not there yet, keep going. And if you know about StarCycle but haven’t quite hit your stride, here are a few tips:
- First things first—if you haven’t clipped in for your first ride yet, book your bike now. Your first class is on us!
- Change up your class schedule. I used to take evening and weekend classes exclusively, then I switched to early morning classes instead (hello, 6 a.m.). It took some time to find a routine that worked for me, but once I did I found I had more energy both on and off the bike.
- Try riding with a new instructor. Even if you love the instructors you usually ride with, it’s always great to get variety in your rides. StarCycle encourages their instructors to be themselves and bring their unique personality traits to the table, so you’ll find something new and inspiring with each and every person you ride with.
- Bring a first-time rider with you! Riding with someone you love and seeing them experience the magic of indoor cycling for the first time can be fun and encouraging for both of you. You can book a ride for yourself and your guest at the same time through the StarCycle website or app.
2. Trust the bike and trust yourself.
When I first started indoor cycling, I had a really hard time trusting the equipment and believing in my body’s abilities.
I felt like if I caught the beat with the instructor my feet would fly out of control. I imagined that if I came up and out of the saddle with my hands at position three I would become airborne, like that scene from E.T. I worried that if I closed my eyes during isolation I would lose my balance. I felt like if I fully rested my hips on the handlebars during stretching—well, you get the picture. Anxiety much?
Then one day, I heard an instructor say, “Trust the bike.” I didn’t realize until that point that my fears and difficulty keeping pace stemmed from a lack of trust—not only in the bike, but in myself.
So I trusted. I trusted myself to adjust my resistance knob as needed. I trusted my muscles to stabilize me. I trusted my ability to balance. And I trusted the bike to support me.
When I let go of my fears and assumptions, I was able to keep pace and push myself much further. I carried that lesson with me off the bike, and it gave me a greater sense of self-confidence as a result.
3. You can do hard sh*t.
This is one of my favorite messages I’ve heard from my StarFam. Short, strong, and to the point, it is one of my favorite in-class reminders, and it is something I remind myself of often even when I’m off the bike.
Now, instead of thinking, “This is hard, I need to change something or quit,” I tell myself, “This is hard, and I can do hard sh*t.” Then I keep it moving, and I like myself all the more for it.
4. It’s okay to cry (really).
It’s OKAY to cry, and it ISN’T just you.
When I was just a few rides in, I got very emotional mid-class and began to sob (I’m a crier, okay). At first, I used my towel to wipe away my tears and tried to hide my face. But then I realized that everyone else in the darkened studio was so focused on riding to the beat and following the choreography that no one even noticed that I was getting emotional. So I let it all out and just kept riding.
For a long time, I assumed that I was the only person who had this kind of experience on the bike. Then one day, I heard a StarCycle instructor tell a fellow rider that she called one part of the studio her “crying corner.”
The rider said, “Me too!”
Taken aback, I asked, “Wait, both of you have cried during class, too?”
They both nodded and the StarCycle member said, “Oh, multiple times.”
I explained that I had thought it was just me, and they shook their heads.
“No, girl—we’ve all been there,” the instructor said, and it’s true. We have all been there, maybe not in the middle of a workout class, but we have all. been. there. Somewhere. And it’s okay to go there at StarCycle if you need to. It’s okay to cry!
5. There are many ways to be “fit.”
Like many of us, I have struggled with negative self-talk and obsessed over body image.
When I started indoor cycling, I saw my body change, and not in all the ways I imagined it would. I felt toned, and I felt strong. For the first time in a long time, I began to feel happy with myself and my body. Not just because of the way I looked, but because of the way I felt: fit, content, and proud of all the miles I’d put in.
StarCycle is for everybody and every body—it doesn’t require anything of you other than that you show up. This means showing up physically and showing up for yourself. When you let go of judgments and expectations, you may be surprised to learn how much you can get out of your workout, even beyond the superficial.
6. Community means everything.
During some of the hardest times I’ve had over the past two and a half years, going to StarCycle was the best part of my day. Visiting the studio allowed me to get out of my head, catch up with my favorite instructors, and connect with other riders in my community. It felt like home.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we all became acutely aware of the importance of community and how difficult it is to become disconnected from one another. I was grateful to be able to go for runs around my neighborhood and use the gym in my apartment complex, but nothing compared to synchronized push-ups or taking it out of the saddle in unison during a big beat drop. When the studio near me reopened, the relief in the room was palpable.
If I’m feeling stressed out or just need to see a friendly face, it’s a relief to know I can sign up for an indoor cycling class at StarCycle and walk out feeling better than when I walked in. Community is everything, and there is no replacement for it.
The Moral of My StarCycle Story
Since I began riding at StarCycle, I’ve learned a lot about indoor cycling, but I’ve learned even more about myself.
I’ve learned that not all of the assumptions I’ve made about myself are true. I’ve learned that I can—and do!—love fitness. And I’ve learned that I can have fun even when things get hard. I’m so grateful to StarCycle for teaching me these lessons and helping me find the power within myself to take on new challenges.