close up of girl's eyes who is sweating after exercising

We lock eyes. I hate her and I love her all at the same time. I want to stop cycling so badly but I can’t, she says she believes in me, she says I can get my power back – I’m not sure what that means but it sounds important that I at the very least try. She says I’m worth it. So I keep going, I don’t touch that resistance button. I won’t break team.

And I’m the only one in the room.

My little boy is tucked up in bed fast asleep. My husband is, somewhere…  and it’s magical. I have never felt this good in a real spin class. Been too scared to actually step into one since circa 2001. And yet here I am, hooked on Peloton – the exercise bike with live stream classes. Virtually high fiving strangers in New York and actually getting a little buzz when I get a “five day streak badge”. Odd, yes, particularly for me, the non-cycler but it has utterly saved my lockdown.

Six days out of seven – after caring and catering for a frustrated four-year-old, one mental Labrador puppy, two cats whom detest the mental puppy and one frazzled husband – I have dragged myself upstairs to my bedroom, got my gear on and got on that bike.

I am sometimes close to weeping as I pull my leggings on but say to myself – “fake it ‘til you make it”. And by the time I’m clipped in and past the first hideous five minute mark, I’m not faking it anymore, I’m actually doing it. And the feeling of elation, the escape from the madness and the sadness and the monotony makes me wonder every day why I have trouble getting on the bike at all.

Make no mistake in thinking it’s graceful. It is in fact a hot mess. The faces I pull when I’m really going for it have never been seen outside of these four walls (never will be). And I am yet to master the art of ‘clipping out’ and occasionally fall inelegantly to the floor.

As Ally Love, Peloton instructor, uttered to me this evening, “Your kids don’t need saving right now, you do.” Amen Ally.

So move. Sweat. Pull ugly-trying-hard faces. For you. Regret it you will not.

Three Welfy secrets to moving more in lockdown:

1.     Habit stack

Did you know that we are far more likely to embed a new habit by coupling it with an existing one that acts as the trigger? James Clear, author of Atomic Habits calls it “Habit Stacking” e.g. after I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute. Apply that to daily movement in lockdown e.g. after I say the last, “and they all lived happily ever after”, I will get on that bike.

2.     Focus on the last five minutes, not the first

We have a tendency to focus on the often-unpleasant beginning of exercising – the first five minutes is found to be the most gruelling as our body struggles to take in ample oxygen. Instead, focus on the peak or gratification at the end when you feel like you could run through a wall. Research has found that this is when your body releases endocannabinoids, a self-produced chemical similar to those found in marijuana.

3.     Measure your moves

The best kept secret of medicine and social sciences – measurement itself creates improvement. A study found 27% increase of activity levels just by wearing a tracking device. So whether it be the plethora of data offered by a Peloton or Apple Watch, or a simple pedometer, embrace the measurement and know that it is helping you to move significantly more than you would otherwise.

Walking is a man’s best medicine. Hippocrates