Like a Girl

Last weekend an Always ad ran during the super bowl. In it they asked both adults and children what it means to do something, “like a girl.”

The internet world blew up with the hashtag #LikeAGirl and the running community put their own spin on the ad with #RunLikeAGirl. I’m a strong cup of coffee of a woman and I often forget that we stereotype women as weak, slow, and inferior; that we lack strength, confidence, drive, and an equal bad ass-ness as men. Which is HILARIOUS because I don’t know a single woman who has a weak or un-driven bone in their foxy, powerful body. But I digress, we have a long way to go with gender equality and I will happily wave my feminist women loving flag until we get there.

Yesterday after physical therapy I was feeling down. I was talking to a friend who had recently lost a family member which brought my own grief back to the surface. I had originally planned to hit the gym after PT but the last thing I wanted to do was get on a treadmill. A dose of endorphins is the best medicine for a heavy heart so I impulsively booked a late night spin class at my most expensive addiction FlyWheel. (This place is robbing me blind. I want to stand in the subway and beg, my sign reading “Help me support my expensive spinning habit.” I can hear Suze Orman in my ear yelling at me, “DENIED! DENIED! DENIED!”)

The reason I love FlyWheel is because it’s a competitive spinning class. Your bike comes with a small screen that lists your resistance levels, revolutions, power, and your score. The harder you ride, the higher your score. Then in the front of the class they have giant TV screens, split into two with women on the left and men on the right. I’m used to sitting comfortably in first on the women’s side but yesterday there was someone spinning right on my tail. Next to our screen names list our correlating bike numbers. Right as I noticed the bike number of the rider putting pressure on me, I hear the guy next to me scream over the Beyonce/Whitney Houston remix,

 “You are a beast. I’ve been trying to catch you for the past 3 songs!”

“What the f*ck!!!!!!!!!!!” I thought to myself, angry that a guy was taking my #1 spot from me. “YOU ARE A GUY! YOU DON’T GET TO CATCH ME STAY ON YOUR SIDE OF THE SCREEN YOU CHEATER!” (I didn’t say that out loud, I thought inside my brain.)  

Initially it made me angry that this guy was competing with me, a girl. I’m a hypocrite. When I came back to reality and got a grip on my irrational anger, I turned to him and said, “Good luck. Don’t hold back.” Off we went, huffing and puffing our way through the remaining 20 minutes of the class, killing ourselves for that first place spot. I was painfully sore from my  previous night's spin class (that I killed myself at) and I wasn’t in the mood to push myself. But this little throw down was a perfect reminder that these workouts are a treat I don’t get to indulge in often and I am wasting my time if I don’t enjoy and attack them. I chose to spend the money to spin; I could have easily gone home and just put myself to bed.

So what if he’s a guy? He gave me a hell of a chase and we kicked each other's asses. I would have done the same thing if he were a girl. As we went into the very last song, ironically “Who Run the World” by Beyonce, I went into kill mode. He made a joke about the song unfairly fueling me, which made us both laugh, but by the end of the song he had me beat by 7 points.

He turned to me and said, “You still won for the girls.”  But it didn’t matter that I “won for the girls.” It just brought the whole #LikeAGirl into perspective. Yes I do spin #LikeAGirl, I spin like a girl and give the boys a run for their money. It all comes down to choices. We choose to allow anyone to define us or put us into a box. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are weak or lesser than what you want to be. It’s your fight, push back and fight it. Prove them wrong. You control how hard you push yourself. I may be a girl, but I'm a fighter. I have to thank this guy for pushing me to attack my ride and remind me that I can't forget to enjoy the ride. (And for the sore behind and legs that I woke up with. Thanks for that.) He pushed me further than I would have pushed myself and for that I am grateful. Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.