cycling · fat · Sat with Nat

Working out with Lizzo

Recommended Soundtrack: it’s about damn time by Lizzo

Recommended viewing: Watch Out for the Big Grrrls

It all started with Sam sharing this video with our bloggers Lizzo Announces Her Peloton Artist Series and asking who would like to write about it?

I haven’t been on my Peloton since the spring. I agreed to give it a go after my vacation. So, yes, I am late to the game, not only for the Artist Series workout but Lizzo in general.

One of my roller derby friends recommended I watch Lizzo’s reality TV show on Prime, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. She loved it. I was leery as I don’t enjoy the mean things that are the backbone of unscripted shows.

I watched it and totally fell in love with Lizzo. How did I not know her music before? I listen to mostly metal, rock and Canadian indie music. Well, I’m a fan now.

The show is an extended audition for dancers to join Lizzo’s touring troupe. It was great to see all of the athleticism, fashion and choreography. There was the sprinkling of unnecessary drama but it was 5% of the airtime.

The show also functions as a promotion of Lizzo’s newest album and her tour. It does a great job showcasing her songs and artistic persona.

Most importantly, and fitness related (I’m getting there!), is Lizzo’s message about body positivity. She explicitly states in each episode that working out is not to loose weight but to be strong to perform and live life. She encourages us all to enjoy our embodiment, revel in our grace, sexiness and “having the juice!”

Now on to the Peloton class. Peloton is working hard at shifting its brand to be more inclusive, reach new audiences and stay financially viable. The business model is built on a foundation of selling stationary bikes, treadmills, athletic wear, and monthly subscriptions.

One way to select workouts is by music genre and there are several class releases in their Artist Series where all songs are from a single artist. There’s been Queen, Def Leppard and David Bowie to name a few. Yes, the ones I noticed totally tell you all the demographic info you need to know about me. The Artist Series is a business partnership where Peloton and the Artist/their label get to draw on each other’s clout for mutual benefit. You can “like” the songs in class and tie that to your music streaming service.

So with many, many, many Artist Series classes already recorded, Lizzo’s stands out because she joined the cycling class and brought a subset of The Big Grrrls with her. The energy and enthusiasm she brought to the workout was awesome.

In the background four women of size are dancing in bright pink workout wear. Lizzo is in the foreground dancing and singing on her bike.

I took the class in September to realize the livestream had technical issues back in July. Lizzo broke the internet and I totally recognized the dancers!

Lizzo’s body is not the build Peloton usually features in ads and classes. All of their instructors are either lean or very muscular with very low body fat. While they do recruit a diverse cast for ethnicity, the age range is tightly dialed in, no seniors as instructors.

It was great to see Lizzo moving on the bike the way I do, breasts bouncing around, belly swaying and thighs undulating. Watching her reality tv show, listening to her music and watching her perform, whether in a workout or on stage, has seriously improved my self confidence. I’m wearing crop tops in public and feeling awesome!

Nat is taking a selfie in her bathroom wearing a super cut space cats print crop top from Point Seven Five.
fitness

Better when I’m dancing

“Cate’s over there having a dance party,” Leslie laughed.

We were in the first rest minute of four rounds of five back squats at my feminist fitness studio, and I was dancing around my bar, treating it like a gracious partner. When the minute clicked over and I turned back to my weights, I quickly moved up to the heaviest weight I’ve lifted in this position.

I never go OUT dancing. But at the gym and when I’m running? I dance almost every day.

I’ve been gushing for months about the feminist #getstrong cross-fit style classes I’ve been doing since March. There are about 25 reasons I love this studio, ranging from its woman-focused, body-positive perspective, to discovering I can deadlift 145 lbs (and counting!), to the profound sense of community and encouragement I feel there. (Hi Nicole!) I think I’ve mentioned this before, but this is the only workout thing I’ve ever done I’m willing to do at 7 am.

The one thing I haven’t written about, though, is the impact of the music in the classes on me.

I’ve always been the kind of person who listens to music while I work out or run, but my music choices can get kind of repetitive. Sometimes I’m running and I think, “oh, this song reminds me of running in White Rock!” — and then I remember that I lived in White Rock more than 10 years ago. If my soundtrack is stale, is it possible that my workouts are stale too?

Judging by how re-activated I’ve become since I started working out at Move, I think the answer is a resounding yes. And yes, it’s the structure and the coaches and the community and the strength-discovery — but it’s also the music. Often, in the rest periods between sets, I dance around. Even — like in the back squat day — when I arrive at class feeling exhausted, the kind of moment where if I hadn’t signed up in advance, I would never go. (Late cancels aren’t refundable. It’s a good policy).

When the music hits the right note, I get energized — and then I’m dancing around the rig, or over to get a heavier weight. It particularly happens in Alex’ classes — she picks playlists that speak to me — and she always notices and cracks up. And in that moment, I am HAPPY from the inside out.

Last weekend I danced at the Shawn Mendes concert with my sister and nieces, which was fun — I especially enjoyed all of these girls and young women being completed unfettered.

(Well, I did get a little bored toward the end — my niece took a photo of me doing a crossword puzzle on my phone). But at this point in my life, I can’t imagine actually going OUT dancing. It STARTS after I’m already in BED! But when I’m moving my body in exercise, sometimes I’m approximating dancing — and sometimes — at Move or at lights when I’m running, I’m actually dancing.

In writing this post, I thought I’d end with sharing my current playlist. And then I realized I really just want an excuse to gush about Lizzo.

From my vantage point, 2019 was the summer of Lizzo. (If you haven’t watched her Tiny Desk concert, do yourself a favour and spend the next 10 minutes doing that now. It’s pure delight).

At the beginning of the summer, a colleague shared with me that the night before, she’d been at her best friend’s 40th birthday party — and her gift to her friend was a burlesque number she’d put together to Lizzo’s Because I Love You. “Because I love her,” she said simply. (I got to see some of the video — it was awesome). That embodied what I love about Lizzo — full-bodied, sexy, unapologetic, full-voiced, love yourself and your friends who get and accept you.

And then there’s this:

When I’m working out or running, I channel Lizzo. I’m my own soulmate — “look in the mirror like damn she the one.” Here’s my current playlist, so you can channel her yourself. It starts with Lizzo’s Juice and then wanders through an array of (mostly) women who’ve inspired me, raunchy, sexy, delicate, vulnerable and honest, all summer. (You can find it on Spotify under my cateinTO i.d).

Do you dance when you’re working out? What’s your soundtrack?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives, works and dances in Toronto.