The pandemic prompted a wild transformation. I have become an exercise monster | Deborah Frances-White

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I have never been interested in exercising until I’m out of breath. What’s wrong with yin yoga, which is basically hugging a bag? Or walking to the park and sitting down and then walking to the ice-cream van and sitting down again? That all counts on my Fitbit.

However, during the worst excesses of lockdown the police kept shouting at us gentle strollers to “Keep moving!”, which made a wander up Primrose Hill in north London more like an enjoyable trip through season two of The Handmaid’s Tale – so I caved and ordered a Peloton bike. My husband predicted the most exercise I’d get would be assembling it. He was so wrong. Two nice masked men came and put it together. Hah!

I put on the special shoes and gingerly climbed on the machine, tuning in to a class with lots of more experienced riders. I could see my cheery Peloton instructor, Cody Rigsby, jollying me along and I pedalled to try to keep up with the other people in my class who all had names on the leader board like “Ohio Mom 43” and “Sangria Sandra”. At first, I was always out of breath and last in the race, but one day I overtook Ohio Mom 43 for a full 90 seconds. I started to get a feelgood Peloton cardio high that’s like narcotics for healthy people.

The next day I outpaced Ohio Mum 43 and Spin City Sarah and finished ahead of both of them, like an urban indoor hero. I don’t want to brag, but I’m forced to – I’m now regularly top of the bottom third of riders. I’ve never been athletically competitive in the slightest. I don’t know why going a smidgen faster than some advertising exec in Idaho is of any interest to me. But I can tell you this – if Don Draped Her thinks he’s going to finish before me tomorrow in the 20-minute Pop Ride in front of Cody, my Peloton boyfriend, he can race me for it.

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