In accordance with my new and improved strategy to really focus on taking care of myself and getting my former fitness level back, I filled up a water bottle, put my driver’s license, a couple dollars, and my cell phone in a ziploc bag for safe (and dry) keeping, put on my helmet, and hopped on my bike for the six-to-seven mile ride to the YMCA for my Zumba class this morning. It was my first bike ride over there, and my first class there in general: my instructor, Emily, moved her classes from the studio closer to my house to the Y for the summer.

When I left home at 7:45, it was already about 85 degrees out. I chose a serious, purposeful riding pace and enjoyed the scenery as I breezed by. The ride was fun, I got my heart rate up, and was sweating by the time I locked up my bike on the rack.

Emily arrived as I was signing in and showed me where we’d have class: in a gym. A practically airless gym with the exception of five huge fans that were mounted about halfway up the high ceilings. The windows were open, but there would be no breeze to help us out today. Emily asked the front desk to shut off a few of the large gym lights to get rid of some extra heat, and we started class.

It was hot. Oh my gosh, it was gross. By the third song I felt weak from the heat, and knew that I was either going to have to find a spot in the path of a fan if I wanted to complete the class, so I moved. I drank water after each and every song, which is something I never do, but I knew that on a day like today it would be entirely necessary. Class rocked.

After class, I opened up the glass door to leave and it actually felt nice outside, at 91 degrees. (Um, so yeah: it was probably near 100 in the gym?) I put my helmet back on, said goodbye to Emily, and pedaled away. The wind on my face was glorious, and I smiled most of the way home. The ride home was different from the earlier one: I wasn’t in any hurry, I coasted down every hill, and at times on the straightaways I just let my legs pedal enough to keep myself upright.

“This is what it’s about,” I thought to myself as I coasted through my neighborhood in the home stretch. Though I arrived home exhausted after nearly two hours of exercise, I felt exhilarated. As I guzzled a huge glass of water and prepared a snack of berries and a string cheese, I found myself already thinking about my next workout, which was common practice for me a while back.

It’s nice to know that parts of me are already bouncing back. I have a good feeling about the rest.