I started CycleBar with the intention of finding a way to move my body that made me happy. I fell in love with the strobe lights and deafening music, but that’s not the reason I kept going back—it was the instructors. I thought that I was starting my journey there to explore a new way to exercise and hopefully love it more, but it truly became my happy space due to the encouraging and authentic staff.
A few months ago, I was walking into a CycleBar ride feeling discouraged about my relationships. I was worried that I had become completely disconnected from my friends, my boyfriend and my family. I walked in wanting to simply shut out the world for 45 minutes. Toward the end of the ride, as I was dripping with sweat and completely out of breath, the instructor turned out the light and started to talk about how she often hid behind courage. How she was so conditioned to hide behind smiles and “I’m okay”s that she too was feeling as though she was alone with her true feelings. She talked about being afraid of the unknowns that negative emotions such as sadness bring, but that by hiding all of her feelings and thoughts, she was not only becoming more sad, but was losing herself along with everyone around her. I remember pushing my legs harder, feeling as though she was talking about me up there. I started to push myself harder and heard the pounding of my heart and in and out of my breath over the music—and I started hoping that if people were looking at me, they would see the hard work instead of the tears in my eyes.
Then she said something that I would never forget: “courage comes through vulnerability.”
When she said this, my legs slowed. I was shocked. It was as if it was the key to all my problems at that moment. I was so afraid of vulnerability because of what people would think—the fear they would see me as weak—but really, being vulnerable would raise me up to be even stronger. I did not need to fake my courage or my strength, rather, it was already buried beneath the whispers of my heart, ready to rise after any and all moments of authenticity and vulnerability. I have tucked this saying away and held onto it tightly in hopes that one day it will be something that I truly believed.
After months of pondering this statement and allowing it to challenge me day in and day out, I attended a ride a week ago that was “Glee” themed. I was never a huge fan of the show, but had watched four or five seasons in high school. I was enjoying my ride and reminiscing on the mash-ups and covers that were played, until the instructor played “Keep Holding On.” Goosebumps appeared on my skin as the room shook due to the volume, and the lyrics once again hit home. I was reminded of this phrase “courage comes through vulnerability,” and as I heard them sing about being there for one another and never letting the person next to them fall, the saying transformed.
“Courage comes through vulnerability, and when you feel that your vulnerability may make you fall, look around. There are people there to catch you.”
After spending most of my life hiding behind a mask of perfection and always keeping people an arm’s length away, worried that I would scare them off, I am ready to embrace a life where I am allowed to be vulnerable and not be scared to lose people. I am ready to rely on those that love me rather than brushing off their concern or desire to know me as a ploy to drop me once I let them in.
Without these instructors and the time spent on the bike with the intention to better myself—not only physically, but mentally—I would have never wanted to embrace this. I have begun to work on this every single day. I want to be better and I want to allow myself to feel without the fear of being left alone.