By Guest Blogger Warren Brown
I’m pedalling with no end in sight.
As the sweat pours onto my bike, I fight every urge to give up. My legs hurt. Despite my fear of another hill, I keep pedalling. It feels like we’ve been at this for hours, but I’m sure it’s only been 15 minutes and if that’s the case, we have another hour to go.
“Breathe”, I hear, “find your serenity...you can do this”.
For context, I’m in a Spinning class. Not just any spinning class, but my first ever, which is part of the inaugural Spinning Escape Jamaica being held in Negril at the Couple Swept Away Resort. Spinning is studio cycling led by an instructor that simulates a bike ride. A journey if you will.
It’s important to note that I had no intention of spinning at SEJA. This fitness and lifestyle event has a number of other activities on the calendar including yoga and outdoor fitness. I had already completed a swimming session earlier that had me in the resort’s lap pool for an hour and a half learning how to breathe and be more efficient during swim-strokes. It was intense and awesome and I would have been happy to wander the property with a fresh fruit smoothie from the resort’s juice bar.
But, in my curiosity of what spinning was, I wandered into a group spinning class and was immediately transfixed. There was an incredible energy in the room that I’d never experienced before. Led by Jamaica’s Spinning Master Instructor Jodi Mair, this was the ‘One Love Ride’ that had the simple theme of motivation. With visuals to match, Mair coached the group through their ride with inspirational words and music. There wasn’t yelling. There wasn’t screaming. It was encouragement. Hype. It was transformational. The kind of experience that leaves you with tingles. This I would come to find was the experience across all the spinning classes and fitness sessions at SEJA. A journey to be a better you. At the very least, a lesson in how to overcome obstacles. With the music as their soundtrack, you could feel the group rise to the challenging portions of the ride. There were high-fives. Arms locked in unison. It was emotional.
I had to try it.
So this is where I find myself. In the Serenity ride being led by Spinning Master Instructor, Natashia Iacovelli from Australia. Iacovelli co-founded the SEJA event along with three other spinning instructors from Jamaica. With the rapid growth of spinning worldwide, and a number of international conferences, they knew that there was great opportunity to bring this type of event to Jamaica and there was no better location than at Swept Away in Negril.
The music has amplified, and I’m not entirely sure if I’m pedalling to the beat of the anthem or dancing in my saddle. I’m in the zone. We’re pedalling. I can feel the energy of the person beside me and it pushes me to go further. Iacovelli prepares us for another hill. The final hill.
What?! “Hard, harder, hardest…”, she says, “…this is your moment…you’ve trained for this…find your centre…find your serenity”.
We’re standing and pedalling. The music is fuelling us. The sweat is rushing down and pooling on the floor and for the first time, I can “see” the hill. I’m imagining it and am focused on it. Just as there’s a part of me that wants to sit down and coast, there’s a part of me that must finish this as we’ve come so far. I will not give up. It feels too good.
“5 more seconds”, she yells. “4…3…2…you did it!”.
The release is incredible. I’m soaked with sweat. There are tears. Iacovelli offers a high-five and congratulations on completing my first-ride. This…this is a wonderful feeling. This is transformational.
As we wander around Swept Away’s sports complex, I’m grateful to the SEJA group. They are encouraging health and wellness in an incredible vacation setting. There is no intimidation. Only inspiration. True sportsmanship.