Soulcycle brands spinning and spirituality

Having heard about Soulcycle, a cult-phenomenon among NYC spinners, I tried out one of their classes during a recent trip. Soulcycle’s spin on spinning is to add dumbbells and dance moves to stationary biking. It operates back-to-back 45-minute classes in eleven studios around New York, three in Los Angeles, and soon will have two in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Soulcycle also incorporates watered-down spiritual messages of the type one hears in yoga classes — but unlike the typical yoga class, a Soulcycle workout is shorter, burns way more calories and includes minimal stretching. Think of it as a yoga-alternative for the Type A exerciser.

Are you ready “to soul?”

I went to Soulcycle’s West Side studio after signing up for class online. While online signups are typical for many exercise classes, Soulcycle actually had me choose a specific bike on their website. My registration was confirmed with a “Welcome to Soulcycle” message that listed my assignment to Bike #32. It also offered information about attire, hydration and Soulcycle etiquette.

Soul Etiquette - SoulCycle

Soulcycle packs in the riders

As a fan of good manners, I loved the etiquette rules — especially the part about “laundry,” since Soulcycle places their bikes as close together as possible. It’s a New York thing — people there have learned to tolerate less personal space than those of us who live in California suburbs. All the same, with 50 to 60 bikes crammed into a space about three times the size of an average living room, personal hygiene is key.

Although crowded, Soulcycle finesses their routine so that, even when you’re doing dumbbell raises, you rarely bump into the people on your left and right. For example, arm extensions are performed to the front, the rear and at 45-degree angles — but never out to the sides.

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My life is good; so why am I feeling bad?

Have you ever had one of those days? Maybe not a day worthy of posting to the FML website, but one that reminds you of the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Monday was like that for me. By the time the day ended, I couldn’t isolate anything that I’d call “terrible” about my life — I just was feeling bad.

Alexander No Good Very Bad

Feeling bad after the older kids leave

It started Sunday, when my college kids returned to school after being home for a week on spring break. I liked having our whole family together again, enjoyed seeing the older two tease their younger brother. It was just like old times. Then they went back to their “real” homes at college, to their friends and their lives there. While it’s nice to stop sharing my car and go back to my routine in our household of three, I know that next year we’ll be a household of two  — and I’m worried that’s not going to feel so great, at least not initially.

Knowing I wasn’t feeling particularly good, I thought I’d ease into Monday, use the morning to catch up on paperwork, do laundry, change sheets and clean up my older kids’ bedrooms. They left their rooms as if they’d been leaving a hotel — beds unmade, shopping bags on the floor, papers and receipts on the night tables. Straightening up in the quiet, I felt like a housekeeper — not the mother of three well-adjusted children.

Feeling bad about a lost ring

Then I realized one of my rings was missing. Not my wedding ring, but the one my husband gave me for our twenty-fifth anniversary. A little worried, I checked the bathroom, the kitchen counter, my jewelry box. Not there. So I looked harder: I put my hand down the kitchen sink to check the disposal, looked all around the house. Cleaned out my purse, checked the pockets of my clothes.

I called the restaurant where we had dinner last night. No, they hadn’t seen my ring.

 Life Good Feeling Bad_compost

 

Feeling bad and sorting through refuse

So I went through the last three days’ worth of garbage, then turned over the recycling bin and emptied it out to make sure the ring hadn’t slipped off my finger when I tossed out old magazines. Still nothing. I went outside and dug through the compost, running my hands through banana peels, coffee grounds, chicken bones, Saturday’s Indian takeout, and more slime I won’t discuss. But still no ring.

So at least we weren’t about to send it off with the garbage truck. But if the ring wasn’t in the trash, I’d have to look more aggressively inside the house. I cleaned out two bathroom drawers, then dismantled the sink drain. No luck.

Finally, something possessed me to check a closet I had looked in two hours earlier. This time I saw it.

But you know what? I thought I’d feel happy to find the ring, especially after looking all that time. Instead I just felt relieved. And emotionally worn out.

Feeling bad at tennis

I left to play a tennis match I had scheduled for the afternoon. It lasted only an hour. I lost 6-0, 6-0.

I wasn’t sure what was going on with me, but the day wasn’t getting better. I remembered my dad’s response whenever things got tough. He would say, “Want a cup of coffee, honey?”

So I went for a cappuccino and one of those delicious seven-layer cookie bars. I sat and stared out the coffeeshop window while I gathered my strength to go grocery shopping. I wondered whether I should quit playing tennis, spend my time on something I could do well. But wasn’t it okay to like a sport and want to play it, even if I played poorly?

On the other hand, if I couldn’t win, could I honestly say I liked tennis? I realized I was immersed in a conversation with myself, with my own Voice of Judgment. I had made this whole day about me, and I was over-reacting to a poor outcome in a match I supposedly had played “for fun.”

Life Good Feeling Bad_Vortex

 

The feeling-bad vortex

How did I get here, to this place of feeling bad? I have a great life: faith, family, friends, health, financial stability, and more. So why, all too often, do I spin down the woe-is-me vortex?

Sure, I know there are real people with real problems in this world. And I’m not one of them. It’s just a lot easier to stay in my personal vortex, than to get out of it and experience someone else’s.

I bought my groceries, went home and cooked a good dinner. At least that much of my day went okay. Actually, the whole day was fine, if you consider it in relation to the day of someone with real problems.

What drags you down, and how do you pull out of your vortex? Let me know in the comments!

 

Image credits: Amazon, Portland Observer, photoholic1 via flickr

Indian Wells fashion: the fans

Part of the fun of attending a live sports event is observing the other fans. While tennis fans’ behavior is typically more controlled than you find at a football or hockey game, their fashion choices cover a wide range. I saw plenty of “RF” and “Vamos Rafa” T-shirts at the BNP Paribas Open, but in general, Indian Wells fashion options at their most interesting incorporate a sense for the hot climate and Southern California desert atmosphere. This post records my observations during the three days I spent at the tournament.

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Indian Wells fashion must: a hat

While baseball caps proliferate, other choices include flaps to protect the back of the neck, or broad brims that make it difficult for the person standing or sitting behind to see. But with sunny conditions and temperatures that climb into the 90’s, you need sunscreen and a good hat.

Indian-Wells-fashion-fans.09

Not sure how the backwards visor helps with sun protection, but it’s her unique look

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Cougar, er, Ladies Day at the SAP Open

Ladies Days

“Ladies Days” bolster ticket sales for daytime matches during the SAP Open, a USPTA tennis tournament that is being held for the last time in San Jose this year. Ladies Days at the SAP occur midweek, where groups of women purchase tickets that give you access to all daytime matches, plus a catered lunch in the Arena Grill with complimentary wine by La Crema, discounts on tennis merchandise, raffle prizes and the chance to take your photo with real live tennis pros. All this, and you get to spend the day with your tennis friends while shirking your regular responsibilities.

I organized a group of tennis players and fans from Ladera Oaks to attend the event at HP Pavilion, and we enjoyed some exciting singles and doubles matches, as well as witnessed interesting behavior by some of the other attendees. I don’t know if it’s always like this when groups of women get together, or if tennis-playing women are particularly outrageous — but it seems that stories coming out of the day resemble some I’ve heard coming out of USTA matches.

 

Cougar-Ladies-SAPTennis

 

Cougar Days

At lunch, Justin Gimmelstob, a former pro and Tennis Channel commentator, emcee’ed the raffle giveaways and did interviews with four pros who had ladies jumping up with their iPhones and no shame about blocking others’ views while they took pictures and videos. At least it wasn’t as crazy as last year, when an inappropriately-dressed woman grabbed onto Gael Monfils and wouldn’t let go. This year our designated pros were Mike and Bob Bryan, Fernando Verdasco and Jack Sock. I imagine it’s just another duty they have to perform as part of their contracts — but the women love it.

Cougar_Ladies_SAPOpenTennis_LaCremaOne cougar lady with white lipstick and overly blonde hair was particularly excited to see Verdasco. Murmuring something about a benefit for breast cancer, she passed me her iPhone after I invited her to sit at our table. (I had asked her to join us since she was standing in our line of sight, and it was clear she had no intention of moving.) Anyway, I glanced at the screen and quickly averted my eyes, as it contained a nearly-naked picture of the tennis pro. “He has the most amazing thighs,” the cougar-lady said. “I touched them.”

TMI. I passed the phone back, speechless. After that we left to take photos with the pros. I noticed she stood next to Verdasco in her photo, which for the sake of discretion, I have not shown here. I hope she left his thighs alone.

Was it the wine? Unless women were chugging their chardonnay, it would have been hard to imbibe enough wine to loosen inhibitions that much during our short luncheon. So I can’t say why the cougar behavior seemed to dominate. Although I did hear later about some gals who were caught trying to sneak out with several bottles of wine, and I saw even more attempting to leave with beer cups full of pinot (this was not allowed, in case you were wondering).

Is this the kind of thing that over-40 men do when women aren’t around? Maybe so. Maybe I need to lighten up and be less judgmental. But at the same time, maybe guys look as silly as women do when they act this way.

How come, though, it’s only the women who are given an animal nickname?

 

Cougar_Ladies_SAPOpenTennis

 

 

Image credits:
SAP Open Ladies Day, La Crema Wineries, ucumari via flickr

Looking for light this side of the equinox: excuses and enneagrams

We’re still seven weeks away from the vernal equinox, when the hours of daylight will equal the hours of darkness, heralding my favorite season of the year. I love the summer, when days are long, and light lasts well into the evening.

Light_Heart_Shaped_Sun

 

SAD: a lack of light

I think I need sunlight now more than ever. Lately, when friends have asked me if I’m still posting to my blog, I realize that my “holiday break” has continued well past New Year’s. My only excuse for my silence has been “the January malaise,” to which one friend replied, “Oh, you must be seasonal.” And I think she’s right. It may not be severe enough to be clinical, but I recognize in myself symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a type of winter depression that overtakes mainly women due to lack of sunlight.

I have one of those SAD lights, but I don’t sit in front of it regularly, and I don’t start using it early in the fall, before I start feeling bad — so I don’t receive the benefits I’m supposed to get from it. Too bad I’m not like the dogs I saw on the ABC News, whose owners were kind enough to buy them daylight spectrum lights. Those depressed doggies apparently perked up after lying in front of the SAD lightboxes. You can check out the story and video here.

The Enneagram: en-light-ening?

I started to make a list of things I had done during the month of January, during which I did no writing or blogging, but after taking the Enneagram test online, I realized I probably need to fight my compulsion to ennumerate my accomplishments — that I should focus more on “being” and less on “doing.” This is because my top score on the quiz was that of the Enneagram 3, or The Achiever, who has a tendency to tie her sense of self-worth to her accomplishments. My second top score was even less encouraging: it was the 8, or the The Challenger, who is confident and assertive, but also prone to confrontation and intimidation. Not exactly what I needed to pull me out of a slump.

 

Enneagram Symbol

Courtesy of The Ennegram Institute

 

So in the spirit of not evaluating myself by how many checks I’ve put on the to-do list, I won’t go through the “incredible” (not really) things I did during my time away from the blog. I do have some plans coming up that may involve changing or adding to Second Serve, however, and those are exciting. Hopefully, with more sunlight in the days ahead, I’ll be able to get going on them.

Until then, I’ll be the lady searching for sun. But don’t get in my way, as apparently one of my possible Enneagram types won’t hesitate to elbow past you!

 

Image credits: iFreeze, Enneagram Institute