“Push it up just a notch, go after that moment — you’ve been inside for months, and this is your chance!”
That was Brian’s voice as we pushed hard in our final “road” in our spinning class on Tuesday night. It flooded me with emotion — here I was, finally, spinning outside, sweating and moving my body hard, as the moon rose above us.
It’s a weird time, right now. That goes without saying — but my two outdoor spinning classes in the past couple of weeks just exemplified how everything right now is about adaptation, patchwork, figuring it out as we go along, a sort of slightly unhinged creative edge.
Spinning used to be super predictable, a kind of streamlined and slick activity — dark room, 30 strangers flinging sweat onto each other, music infusing every pore, hard work in sync with a herd. Now it’s 10 bikes spaced out in an alleyway, two decent speakers in the middle, one class with Derek wandering around with Covid hair in his bare feet calling out directions and encouragement, another with Brian continually trying to make the bluetooth work and waving at us with a fancy fan.
Toronto has been in “stage 2” of lockdown for a few weeks now, and it’s a stage I’m comfortable with. Shops are open, with masks, with limited numbers of people. Patios are open, with spaced out tables, territory claimed on the streets, and a whiff of gratitude. Services are open, with masks and spacing (in the past 6 weeks I’ve had a dental cleaning, two pedicures, a hair cut, a separate hair colour, three rounds of acupuncture and a mammogram). I had a covid test and drove four hours to visit my mother and my aunt. People are complying, for the most part, with the rules around masks everywhere inside. People are in parks working out, as Nicole wrote about the other day. Most people in office type jobs are still at home, most adjusted (except for that one guy I work with who keeps saying his webcam is “on order.” Um, get it together, Jim!)
I don’t think phase 2 is sustainable from a business point of view, but it’s sure sustainable from my point of view, in the middle of summer, for all the things I care about. And spinning — a class where I really sweat, really push myself — this was the one piece missing from my life.
My first spinning class, I almost cried with gratitude, finding the unique power that comes with the hard class, the pushing that’s different from actually riding an actual bike up an actual hill. (Also good, and I’ve done a fair bit of that too — just different). The different freedom to push hard without having to think about traffic, weather, falling, a flat. Overlaid with this glorious sunshine, a breeze, a coach just diving into the absurdity. Literally savouring every minute — what if this disappears again? Just like the light-streaked first dinner on a patio — a bit of awe and pure joy.
My second class was already a dip back into a bit of routine, Brian’s familiar, confident voice easy, encouraging us to stretch out or slow down, depending on our own bodies. A sequence that challenged the twinge-y nerve I’ve been struggling with in my left foot. But — a rising moon, an open sky, people working hard to make the most of what’s true in our world, catching the scent of creative, collective effort? The shared push of our bodies, even spaced apart and careful?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and spins and breathes in the east end of Toronto. If you want to join us, follow @Torqride on IG. The classes are still announced as popups, usually on Sunday afternoon for the coming week.