There and back again: a spinner's tale

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My journey with Zenergy started in May 2017. My mom told me about a cycling studio in Charleston which her friends had all been going to and mentioned there was one in Morgantown. Since I had graduated and couldn’t use the WVU Rec Center anymore, I figured I would give it a shot. I was nervous about booking my first class, but a former classmate of mine was the instructor, which made me more comfortable. When I walked in for class, I immediately knew I had nothing to worry about. The woman at the front desk was very welcoming and helped me set up my bike. The class was definitely harder than I was initially expecting! Thankfully, I brought my bandanna, because I was absolutely drenched in sweat, and loved every minute of it. I went home and immediately purchased a monthly-unlimited package, booking a class for the next day. Aaron was working the front desk for my next class and most classes thereafter; after about 2 days, he knew that I was the guy wearing the size 14 shoes and would have them ready for me as soon as I walked in the door every single class. This simple act made me feel so welcomed and included. Since I wasn’t in school at the time I went spinning almost every day. As my cardio improved, classes got easier, and I graduated to using the 5 lb weights during the arms song. I looked forward to going to class every day and hearing the encouraging words from the instructors. Unfortunately, I found out that I had to move down to Huntington for my pharmacy residency. My last ride in Morgantown was the Pride Ride of 2017. This was especially important to me, as it was also the first Pride event I had ever participated in. I even bought a special bandanna just for it! It was a great way to end my time in Morgantown. Thankfully, it wasn’t truly my last ride in Morgantown, but I didn’t know that yet.

I had a decent time in Huntington- I reconnected with some old friends and learned a lot about pharmacy. But I just wasn’t as happy as I had been in Morgantown before my move. I still saw most of my friends from Morgantown on a regular basis. I attended football games and tailgated just like I did as a student. However, it just wasn’t the same, though at the time I didn’t know why. I had tried to take a few spinning classes at Marshall’s Rec Center, but I wasn’t able to stick with it. I slowly gained weight and felt worse and worse.

The time came for me to start looking for a job post-residency, and I was hopeful that I would be able to move back to Morgantown or at least nearby. While waiting to hear back from potential employers, I knew I needed to get some exercise for both my mental and physical health. I decided to look into bikes I could ride at home with classes, and I was ready to purchase one once I found a job. I was excited when I found a job opening in Fairmont, albeit tentatively, as my job search had been unfruitful up to that point.  I interviewed, and about two weeks later, I found out I got the job. I immediately started looking for places to live, making sure that each one had a space for the bike I was planning on purchasing. I didn’t think my work schedule would allow me to go back to the studio. The townhome I moved into had a perfect space for a workout room, but unfortunately, after my moving expenses, I did not have the funds to purchase a bike. At this point, it had been over a year since I had done a spinning class, and my body needed it badly. I decided to get a month’s worth of classes at Zenergy and see if my schedule would allow me to go to classes regularly. While it may sound cliché, it was easily one of the best decisions of my life.

When I walked back in for my first class back in over a year, Aaron still remembered that I wore the size 14 shoes- he had them ready before I even got to the desk. That made me feel amazingly welcome like I hadn’t even been gone for that long. However, the rigor of my first class back definitely made me feel like I had been gone for over a year. There was a new instructor, so at first, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. She didn’t disappoint; by the time the stretch ended, I was dripping in sweat. I realized what I had been missing during my time in Huntington. It was more than spinning, it was more than exercise, it was Zenergy and the community surrounding it. I may have hobbled to my car, but I know that I left much stronger than I was when I walked in.

A month later, I’m still always dripping in sweat, as is evidenced by the footprints I leave all around the lockers and the puddle from wringing out my bandanna in the parking lot, but I feel better than I ever did before. Classes have gotten easier, which just allows me to push myself harder. I haven’t made it back to the 5 lb weights yet, but I can make it through most arm songs without stopping. I’m dropping lower on my crunches and pushing harder through every sprint. I’ve lost over 15 pounds and reached my 50th ride. I even pulled a double ZenFlex 2.0 a few Friday’s ago, with only a small nap in my car in the parking lot in between. On my 55th ride, I sat in the front row; this was a huge step for me, as I’d always sat in the back during my previous rides. I even got to blow out a candle! Being named rider of the week was very special to me as well. I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and bettering my physical and emotional self. Through all of this though one of the most important things to me was when a fellow rider told me that she was happy I was riding next to her because I had been so motivating the day before. This meant a lot to me, as being a part of the Zenergy community means riding as a team and building each other up. I’ve made many fond memories at Zenergy, and these are just a few.

Being back at Zenergy and attending classes has resulted in so much mental and physical growth; joining again was definitely the right call. I just finished my first month back in classes and have already booked a 3-month membership. Every day I ride I look forward to coming to the studio and seeing everyone and being a part of this great community. I am so thankful that all the stars lined up so that I could come back and be a part of this group. Each and every member of the studio has helped me along this journey and it is amazing to have the support from all of them, thank you to all of you. And a very big thank you to Nick for creating this community and providing the opportunity to take such an amazing journey on a bike that doesn’t move. I can’t wait to continue along this path and see how much more I can grow. If you’re on the fence about joining, do it! Your life will change for the better, I guarantee it! Ride #100, here I come!  

-Zach Griffith

Jenni Schwartz