“Drink up,” Dan says, pushing the bottle towards me with a laugh.
I wince. I feel like I could throw up.
The bass of the electronic music seems to resonate off the walls, and I feel sucked into the beat. Glancing around the room, I notice the effect of the blacklight. My head spins as I stare at the strokes of neon orange and green adorning the walls. In an environment like this, I feel swallowed up by the darkness.
But I keep pedaling. It’s 5:45 a.m. on a Monday morning, and I’m in the middle of a gym cycling class.
“We are approaching another hill,” our instructor, Dan, yells out over the music. “Get out of the saddle!”
I suck in a deep breath, and with a swing of my hips, I rise out of the seat and lean towards the handle bars. In a moment of courage, I reach down and rotate the pressure gauge, making the resistance stronger.
My legs burn as I cycle my way through a series of hills, sprints, jumps, etc. Sweat drips off my makeup-free face and splashes onto the handlebar in front of me as my heart races to catch up the speed of my legs. My body is in constant motion. There is no rest, just a desire to push the limit—to see how strong my body can be, to see how fast my legs can go, to see how short my breath can be.
It’s 6:30 a.m.—the time most people wake up in the morning—but I have just got my fix for the day. I have experienced my daily high, and now, life can continue on. I can reply to the three dozen e-mails sitting in my inbox. I can laugh at my co-worker’s humorless jokes. I can carelessly observe the pile of dishes my roommate left lingering in the sink, and I can even wave cheerily at the person flicking me off during 5:00 traffic. I can do all of this with a smile on my face, because first thing in the morning, I pushed my way through a one-hour cycling glass in a small blacklight-lit room at my neighborhood gym.
“Now slowly bring your pedaling to a halt and dismount from the bike,” Dan says in a deep soothing voice.
With endorphins running through my body, I slowly get off my stationary bike. Drenched in sweat, I grab the water bottle Dan had given me. Gulp. Gulp. I down half the bottle. My head isn’t spinning anymore, but my mind is buzzing. I feel alive. I feel strong. I feel high. I take a deep breath and smile.
“Have a great day!” I shout towards Dan.
“See you tomorrow,” he responds warmly.
With the rest of the class, I exit the studio. We file out of the building and go towards our separate cars—to our separate lives—,but we will all be back tomorrow. Here, we will all gather to get our fix. We will always return. Like the addicts that we are, we will feed our addictions, fuel our highs, and avoid the side effects of withdrawal.