I’ve been wanting to do this post for a long time, and I figure since it’s Wednesday and that day figures prominently in the story, why not today?
Wednesday is my favorite day to exercise. A couple of years ago it was just “any old day” as far as my workout went, but then in 2006 I started teaching a group cycling class at 5:30 p.m. at a new (to me) healthclub. I wasn’t super-excited about the location of this place because it takes me about 25 minutes to get there with NO traffic, which is not usually the case. I was, however, excited about the Group Fitness Director, who used to teach at my other club (I’ve been teaching there since 2004 but working there since 1995). She is really good at her job, she is fair, friendly, and accessible whenever she’s needed. I was thrilled at the opportunity to work for her.
This club contrasts in a major way from my long-time club. It is huge, and very vibrant. It is always hopping there. (In contrast, my long-time club is now very quiet; there have been major dents in membership numbers over the last several years, and sometimes it’s like a ghosttown there.) I only teach one class per week at my long-time club now, and I usually have less than 6 people in class. To be clear, I stay there because I ADORE these 6 people, and look forward to seeing them every week for our little hour of fun.
This new (to me) club though, was a great opportunity to build up some kind of following. When I started there in 2006, I was subbing all summer for an instructor who vacations for three months each year. (Yeah, lucky!) In the fall, I was given my own class on Wednesdays at 5:30. All of the other weekday cycling classes are held at 6:30, but I wanted to offer a different time because I figured there HAD to be people who didn’t want to wait til 6:30 to workout. They told me I could try the time for a while and see how it went.
My numbers were quite slim in the beginning, partly because of the time (It’s hard for some people who work to get there that early) and partly because nobody knew who I was. I was ready to build my following and make a reputation for myself.
There were, however, four people who came from the very beginning, my Founding Four. They are my Workout Buddies. They have been there for me almost every single week. They let their personalities shine through in class (I LOVE THAT!), and they are the reason that I love Wednesday class so much. And I know that they love it, too!
Shirley is a 60-year-old who would not care at all that I just wrote that. She has something like 8 children (I can’t remember if that’s the exact number, though!), one of whom joins us for class when she gets off work in time. She works in the club nursery and started exercising in early summer 2006. If I recall correctly, the last time I got an update she had lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 pounds. She is absolutely hilarious: no-nonsense and all that. When I ask her if her legs “are talking to her” during a particularly tough part of class, she says, “Yes!” Then I ask her, “What are they saying??” and she says, “Ouuuuuuch!” When I get too chatty with my stories and I “apologize” (frankly, it’s not a real apology because I figure I’m the one with the microphone, right?), Shirley always says, “Well, you wouldn’t be Melisa if you didn’t talk too much!” I love her.
Deb is always smiling. Well, maybe not always during the hard parts of class, but mostly! I love hearing her enthusiastic “Hi Melisa!” when we first see each other on Wednesdays. She is a very thoughtful woman and we have had many conversations about our food weaknesses, kids, whatever. I love that she calls her boyfriend “My guy”. I don’t know why; I just think it’s adorable. She is the first one to lie to me when I ask the class if their legs are tired: she always says “No Way!” That’s because she learned quickly that if they say they’re tired, I make them work harder.
Dave is the person Most Appreciative of my music. I remember the first time I introduced myself to him. He said, “My friends call me Super Dave.” I said, “Do you want me to call you that?” He said, “Naw, just Dave is fine.” He is my best hootin’ hollerer in class. I can always, always, always count on him for a big “woot woot” or “hoo hoo!” when I ask them to scream. I always know when I have chosen good music because I will see Dave’s fist pumping up in the air above his head. Dave was the one who brought me magazines last week. In December, I brought cookies and brownies for Dave’s birthday (and I gave him a CD with his fave cycling songs on it) and I got the sweetest Thank You note:
Thanks so much for the CD! I have always wanted one of your songs. And for the yummy cookies and brownies. They didn’t last long. LOL
I LOVE your class! It is the highlight of my week. I look forward to it so much. I wish you could teach everyday. Woo Hoo! You rock.
Thanks again. I’ll look forward to your class every week this next year.
Happy Holidays, Dave
Needless to say, that totally made MY week.
Last but definitely not least is Linda, or as I call her, “Wednesday”. I try to call out names as much as possible because many people are motivated by the personalization, and they realize I’m paying attention to them specifically. I always encourage my class people to introduce themselves to me if I don’t know them. I don’t have all their names though. Sometimes I yell “Go Wednesday!” as a motivator (I hope) for the entire class. Well, I came to find out that Linda, who works out there on a daily basis and knows tons of people, thought that there was someone in class who was named “Wednesday”. Everytime I said that, she would look around the room to see who this “Wednesday” was! Linda is my ’80s Queen. She is happiest when I play things like “Mickey” by Toni Basil or, frankly, ANYTHING from that decade. She rides the same exact bike in the corner every single class.
These four people are so important to me. Each Wednesday as it gets closer to 5:30, I can totally get over the fact that I may not feel like working out at the end of the day or that it might take me 45 minutes to get there, because I know that I have friends waiting for me.
Although I am not a shy person (you never could have guessed THAT, right?), I don’t normally “go crazy” or do “crazy things” out in real life. As an instructor, I can unleash the little-seen wild side of my personality and let it fly for an hour. I can be a Chatty Cathy, always with a story to share. I can be a Drill Sargeant, barking out orders to “add more resistance!” I can act like an egomaniac, demanding attention in the form of shout-outs and “Wooop Wooops!” from the class. These four, along with the others who have become regulars or just stopped in from time to time, allow me to do that: heck, they even encourage it.