“MOVE YOUR ASS MC’DONALDS!!!!!”

Those were literally the first words I heard from anyone in the endorphin community, and believe it or not, they came straight from the horses mouth. That’s right, after rupturing my left achilles twice (yep, you read that right) in 2011 I somehow (aka Groupon) found my way into a ryders class on the one and only Colfax Avenue. Who knew? Said ruptures got to me good (as they ruined my trip I had been training for – hiking the Pacific Crest Trail solo from Mexico to Canada), and I basically laid around for the entire year of 2011, ate pain pills like I was pac man, ate ice cream like I was Chunk from The Goonies (Super Duper Chocolate Eruption!), and before I knew it, 30 extra pounds somehow ended up being a big part of me. That was uncomfortable. And come to find out, its hard to lose 30lbs. I think I finally figured that instead of buying a shit ton of sweatpants and the like, that I should just get off my ass and do something about it.

Before 2011, I was a big fan of boot camps, and before that I was an actual tennis player. After breaking the worst bone in my wrist twice though, my tennis career ended ten years or so ago. I don’t learn lessons very easily. I do things in twos. Not being able to play tennis anymore at least got me into teaching lessons to little kids for quite a few years, and I was a high school tennis coach in Denver for a couple of years during my short stint as a kindergarten teacher. Why is this weirdo talking about tennis all of the sudden? If you are asking yourself that, I don’t blame you. I tend to ramble and am a very odd character. But, I brought up tennis because that first ryders class I took with this dude named Chris Lindley (I honestly had no clue that he ran the joint, truly did not) was very memorable for me.

I half limp into class right when it was starting, and there was only one bike open in the front row. This is no b.s. folks. I didn’t even know that these bikes moved side to side and all that. I figured a cycling class would be easy and was a good starting point after a year of doing nothing. Good rehab so to speak. Holy crap was I wrong! This really was my first bit of exercise after a year of laying around. As you can all imagine, I didn’t do so well. Maybe this is why I have sat in the very back left of the room for the last 2 years or so. Besides a bigger gut than I have now, for some reason I wore this maroon t-shirt from a high school tennis tournament that I had won way back in the day. I loved that shirt because of that tournament in St. Louis specifically, and obviously because I actually won the whole thing. It truly meant nothing to me that the tourney was sponsored by Mc’Donalds and that those stupid ass golden arches were plastered right on the front of the shirt. I never really even thought about it. But man, I should have thought about that, because I truly set myself up for that now infamous quote. “MOVE YOUR ASS MC’DONALDS” came about 5 minutes into class when everybody was standing up, while slapping the bottom of the bike all while rocking side to side (seemed impossible to me) and i was sitting down wondering what in the hell I had gotten myself into. A long haired, bearded dude with a big fat belly, wearing a Mcdonalds shirt didn’t  necessarily fit the mold of your typical Endorphin member. And I think in a way, thats what I’m most proud of. I didn’t really fit the mold, and got my ass handed to me. But I took a hard look around and really liked what I saw. It was a good environment, and I somehow kept coming back for more. I rode the groupon wave for years in Denver for boot camps, kettle bell classes, cycling stuff, jazz hand clinics, and zumba classes. Just kidding, I still have no freaking idea what zumba is. This might sound made up, but Endorphin was the first place that I actually joined and found worth it to pay my monthly membership fees to instead of just bouncing around at a discount.

Even though I still have a bigger belly than most endos, I really do feel just as big a part of the community as the marathoner types. And come to find out, the marathoner types are just humans too. Its not like they are going to sprint into you full speed and knock you over just for having a bigger belly than them. They like being a part of a community like endorphin and are just as friendly as you and I. And, after a couple years (a lot of which I admit were streaky), for the last 6 months, I am basically going to classes every single day now. Minus snowboarding days of course. And, the big fat belly really has shrunk a decent amount. My actual long pants without the elastic waist fit me again, and I feel really damn good. I have never in my entire life worried too much about what I look like (obviously, huh?), and have always based things on how I feel. Lets just say that I don’t drink coffee, and going to early morning classes all week really does give me that same buzz and great energy for my day though. I kind of need to go every morning now, kind of like my wife has to have her coffee every single morning.

There is always that talk and stigma about overweight people, and I think I can talk on the subject pretty well. For me, its not about judging someone for what size they are or how they look. Seeing people that are really overweight just makes me think about how I felt with a bunch of extra belly fat (and not being active). It made me feel tired, unconfident, and really just like a piece of poop. I like seeing people of all shapes and sizes come into endorphin. I really do. I personally get a feeling of community and acceptance, and again, we really are all humans. Everyone in class is doing their best, and it doesn’t really matter if you look like or are biking as fast as Watson. It really doesn’t. We are all dripping with sweat, and when you feel like you want to barf all over the place, you can just look around and see others that look like they would enjoy barfing as well, but instead, everyone is doing weird ass handstands, side planks, high knees, throwing jabs and all kinds of stuff. You are held accountable to do your best and you leave class feeling proud of yourself, energized, and wanting more. Even though I am still overweight (but once I wrap my head around this whole, eating healthy bit, who knows what could happen! Who are the endo nutrition people??), I am truly well on my way to not being overweight, and am 100% committed to going to class daily. It is easy to go to a gym or a class and feel self conscience and just give up. But nothing in life that is worth a shit is easy. Yes, you do have to work hard and stick to it, but anyone can do it. You really can. My good buddy Jodi Gallivan actually helped me take it to the next level quite a few months ago. She was telling me how she was doing a double one day, and I had to ask for clarification. She said she did an hour kinesis class with Sara Kemis and then came straight to the ryders class I was in. I thought she was kidding, but she wasn’t. And come to find out, there were others that did such things. It was mind bottling to me (Blades of Glory reference), but Jodi finally talked me into using the buddy system one Tuesday to try it out and see that it was indeed possible. I found myself waking up at like 4:45 in the morning (when most of my friends go to bed) to go do a double. I survived and started doing doubles on Tue, Thu, and even Sunday. Crazy. I am proud of myself.

I like that Endorphin’s slogan is “movement is our drug.” I’ll go ahead and be honest and say that I’ve been around the block and have made one or two bad choices in my day. But, I am finding out that busting your ass in these classes, and leaving soaked in sweat really is like a drug. It really is. It gives you that similar kind of buzz as other illegal shit, but with side effects that are 12 million times better and more beneficial. I find myself singing a lot in my car (as my stereo is broken) and I sing stuff like “I want a new drug, one that won’t make me sick/ one that won’t keep me up all night, one that won’t make me sleep all day/ one that won’t make me nervous, wanderin what to do…..” And you know what? I think I found that new drug!

I also like that on the website it says “To be healthy-both mind and body-you have to participate in a variety of physical fitness and spiritual practices.” Before endorphin, I never, ever, ever thought that way. I have been in great shape at times in my life, and at times I have looked and felt pathetic. But since joining endorphin, I have started taking yoga and meditation classes (I even went to a gong bath and freaking loved it, and literally just got back from a 2 hour mindful class with Diane Sieg who was wonderful) and let me just say that that yoga shit is not easy!! Sometimes I find myself about to flip off an idiot driver and I think about these classes and actually work on my breathing, and put the bird away. I notice stuff like this happening now. I love the teachers at endorphin. And it shows that they love endorphin. I don’t see any type of revolving door there and that says a lot. I am a big fan of Chris (well….sort of), Briana (you go girl!), Bree, Sarah Russell, Sara Kemis, and Valerie, but I must say that Nick has probably had the biggest influence on me. Nick, whose classes are right up there with being almost too hard like Chris’, always talks about the benefits of stretching, breathing, yoga, and meditation. He likes to say that mediation is the hardest and most beneficial exercise you can do for yourself. You teachers might not realize this, but we actually do listen to you, and look up to you guys. It has to be quite the balancing act to teach these very challenging classes, while motivating and being buddy buddy with the folks in our community. Well, you make it look easy. I sure as hell couldn’t do it. Well, maybe I could….. I could teach a class for truly out of shape people only, tell jokes, and play a mix of phish, talking heads, old school rap, guns n roses, and rage against the machine. I would never ever play pit bull, adam levine, or that dumb song, moves like jagger like you guys do. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm……

They told me to write a paragraph so I better quit, but I could truly go all day. Keep it up fellow endos!!!!! You just never know, someday you could be the next Member Of The Week! Let me tell ya, it feels nice. Real nice Clark! Goodbye!!