Climbing the stairs at Imperial, clock overhead almost reading 7:30, and the Zhumba crowd clumped up waiting to get out through the door: a little four-foot woman in cycle pants and a ball cap stood talking in the doorway. Not really getting in the way, just kind of holding the door open and talking to several of the female regulars in the class. After she went inside, I held the door open for the streaming ladies–cuz they’re ladies, they work out to keep in shape and hey, you just never know.
Once inside, grabbing for a bike, jockeying for my favorite floor position, I noticed the little woman in the cycle pants and ball cap setting up where the instructor usually spins. Whaa??
“Good evening, my name is Sonia, and I’m subbing tonight. How many of you haven’t taken my class before? (most of the hands went up) Well, I like to push you, and I will get in your face. If I say ‘heels,’ you need to make sure you are riding with your feet flat, if I say ‘knees,’ you need to make sure your riding with your knees straight. So come on, let’s get started!”
She wasn’t kidding. She broke her patter several times to call out slackers.
“You!” she pointed, “increase your resistance. I can see you don’t have enough on the wheel.”
At one point, during a standing climb, she rolled her bike over to face myself and 8 other riders clumped in the front/middle corner. She mounted the bike and started churning away.
“All of you here,” she made an encompassing sweep with her raised hand, “need to increase your resistance. You’re cheating, and I don’t like cheaters.”
Finally, an instructor who uses the open plane of the wood floor to her advantage. She could never have rolled her bike over in one of the dedicated rooms.
She has an accent, Spanish sounding. Three quarters of the way through, she started playing Salsa music with a hyper-extended beat.
“Is anyone here Brazilian?’ she called out.
She likes to sprint. When she does, her legs churn at an incredible rate, double the speed of anyone else in the room. When she rides intervals: standing to sitting and repeat, she doesn’t really sit. She stays suspended just above the seat, hanging in space with her legs churning lightning fast and her knees almost fully bent. At four-foot, and not an ounce of fat, she can’t be holding too much weight up, but it’s still an incredible feat.
She thrashed us all and then thanked us. As she was taking us through cool-down at the end, she warned us not to skip that step. Don’t get off the bike too quickly, she said.
“I see too many people downstairs—-” and here she clasped her hands in a prayerful triangle and pantomimed keeling over.
I can imagine.