Lessons Learned from the First Row in Class

I started out in the back row when I was new to Frank’s spin class. From the back, I could follow the lead of other riders when Frank barked instructions. After a few classes, I identified other regular riders whose calves and spin shoes I admired, and I tried to match their pace. Plus, I had a false illusion that my position in the back provided me protection from Frank’s wrath.

But it wasn’t always all good in the back. I could see people who were checking their phones. I could see people who seemed like they were coasting along comfortably when we were supposed to be working hard. I could see people who didn’t keep their butts back over the seat in position 3 like they were supposed to. As much as I tried to not worry about everyone else and focus on myself, it still bugged me. To be perfectly honest, it made me mad. The more I witnessed other riders who weren’t sweating as hard as everyone else, the angrier I got.

One day, a packed classes forced me to sit in the front row because all the other bikes were taken. Since I wasn’t able to follow everyone else, I was nervous I would mess up. But I had attended enough classes that I could listen and follow the instructions without demonstration. And in 50 minutes, I didn’t have one negative thought about anyone else in the class (except maybe Frank, because he made us sprint, and I hate sprinting).

I started sitting in the front row exclusively. Though I couldn’t follow the more advanced riders, I also couldn’t see the other people who got on my nerves. I was still aware everyone else. I could still hear their bikes whirring and their voices during Frank’s insistent countdowns at the end of challenging hills. But I couldn’t see what they were doing. And so, I completely stopped caring about anyone else’s ride but my own.

My migration from the back row to the front highlights my tendency to care too much about what other people are doing. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s a personal weakness I continue to work on. By cutting those people from my peripheral vision in spin class, I realized it was possible to focus my energy inwards instead of outwards. The less I pay attention to the actions of other people, the less they bother me.

I’ve been enjoying spin class more, and I’ve been thinking about how this lesson can translate to other aspects of my life. I’m finding other ways I can block out situations that don’t concern me and just forget about them. For example, I finally started unsubscribing from updates from to those annoying acquaintances on Facebook.

I encourage you to try the front row. It might teach you something about yourself.

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Betsy Mikel | betsymikel.com