An Open Letter to Every CAC Instructor

WritingaLetterDear Chicago Athletic Club Instructors,

First off, let me start by saying thank you. Before I joined West Loop nearly four years ago, I was suffering from a serious case lame workoutness. I was a runner and nothing else.

But then I tried a few classes and joined bootcamp. Soon enough, you opened up a whole new world to me. I experienced many fitness firsts under your guidance and encouragement: My very first burpee, my first spin class, my first Turkish get-up. Each first led to bigger and better things. That first burpee led me to being able to knock out 100 of them at once, and that first spin class led me to buying a pair of spin shoes.

Before, only cardio machines felt safe. Now, I can work out alongside the best of the grunters of the gym floor.

Before, I didn’t even know bodyweight exercises were a thing. Now I can squat, lunge and push up with the best of them.

Before, I hadn’t lifted anything much heavier than a bottle of wine. Now, I aspire to lift my entire body weight so I can one day a pull-up.

Before, I trudged along at long slow distances. Now, I can sprint on a bike, treadmill, StairMaster, you name it!

So thank you for all the work you’ve done to help me get this far. I have so many more goals to work towards than simply trying to run faster or farther. But I also owe you an apology. Because there’s something about me you probably don’t know.

Even if we’re Facebook friends, even if I’m cheerful when we chat at the gym and even if I seem “grateful” after a hard class, the truth is that sometimes I kinda hate your guts.

I think horrible things during your classes. There are moments that I curse the decision I made to even come -- specifically during the final reps in a circuit, the last couple of breaths in a challenging yoga pose, or the last few seconds of a sprint.

I think you are lying about how long 30 seconds is. I think you are counting too fast or or too slowly. I despise your taste in music because the tempo is too fast and I don’t wanna move that quickly right now.

And during these moments, I consider yelling such things as:

  • HEY! That was NOT enough recovery time, not even CLOSE!
  • OMFG is this sprint OVER YET how can 30 seconds POSSIBLY TAKE THIS LONG?
  • COME ON my legs are SERIOUSLY going to fall off if you make me do another one
  • Do you HONESTLY expect me to do that RIGHT NOW?
  • We JUST did that and it was already REALLY hard so why are we doing ANOTHER ONE?
  • Why are you doing this to me, what did I EVER DO TO YOU?
  • Stop telling me it’s almost over when WE ALL KNOW IT’S NOT
  • You want us to do THAT AGAIN? Haven’t we done enough already YOU MONSTER?
  • Wait, I know what this song means. YOU ALWAYS PLAY THIS SONG WHEN WE HAVE TO DO THAT THING I HATE.
  • Wait, mountain climbers? I HATE MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
  • Wait, EVEN MORE ab stuff? I HATE AB STUFF

No, my capslock key is not broken. I really do scream at you in my head like that. If I were not so exhausted in these moments, I might scream them out loud. Fortunately in the spin or yoga studio, it’s often dark enough that you can’t see the fire in my eyes. In other classes, I try to avoid eye contact.

Soon enough, I am relieved to be done doing whatever the painful thing is that you made us do. “Okay, that wasn’t so bad,” I think to myself. Then, you do it AGAIN. And I think the mean things again.

When class ends and we get to do the fun part like cool down and stretch, the mean thoughts evaporate. Then I am happy and thankful for you. I am glad I decided to come to class. I know that if I had been working out on my own, I wouldn’t have pushed myself as hard. And that’s why I’m always cheerful after class and have a smile on my face when I thank you for the hard workout. But also, it’s because I’m hoping by being nice I can make up for the words I cursed in my head just 5 minutes prior. Just in case you did catch my fiery glare -- my post-workout smiling face is my way to trying to cover it up so you think I was actually loving every painful moment.

I feel really badly about this, but the fact of the matter is I know what I’m signing up for when I walk into your class. That’s the reason I come to YOUR class. As much as I hate you in these moments when I’m feeling particularly weak, I know it’s good for me and is making me stronger.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can prevent myself from continuing to scream those expletives in my head. As long as I keep coming to your class, and as long as you keep kicking my ass, I’ll keep swearing silently about it.

But I still wanted to come clean and let you know. I hate you. But I also love you.

Love (really),

betsy picBetsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter whose passion is telling the stories of entrepreneurs, brands and businesses that challenge the status quo. When she’s not biking or running all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym |