As Connecticut reopens, we can once again shop until we drop. (Or our mask falls off.) We can go to restaurants. (Sort of.)
Soon we can once again get our hair cut, styled and/or colored. And our nails done.
What we can’t do — at least for a while — is go to a gym. The Y, fitness centers, spin studios — all are too dangerous for our hot, sweaty, once-toned and possibly now-COVID-carrying bodies.
Westporters have adapted in a number of ways. We’ve livestreamed workout videos. We’ve jogged, walked and biked on suddenly empty streets. We’ve climbed walls. (Okay, that’s only figurative. But still…)
Those fortunate enough to have the foresight to already own a Peloton bike* were lucky. Those who suddenly realized they wanted one were out of luck. Thought there’s an actual store selling real bikes on Main Street, it closed in mid-March. Online orders were backed up for weeks.
It’s one thing to ride a Peloton bike at home. Sure, you’re linked up with an instructor and fellow bikers. But a group of Westport moms wanted more.
In the early days of the shutdown, Maria Mulvehill and a few friends — all with Pelotons — started texting. They wanted motivation and accountability to main their physical (and mental) health.
That text chain got many on the bike and moving even when they did not want to, Maria says.
As friends pulled in friends, the texts also connected women who did not know each other. They cheer each other on, through messages and the leaderboard.
One woman will post that she’s doing a certain ride, at a certain time. Others join if they can. They see each other on screen. As they ride — sometimes racing, other times just keeping each other company — they “high-five.”
Later, they catch up by text.
The group branched out too. They shared stories about baking bread, coping with kids, and how they cry during rides when the instructor says something poignant or emotional.
Suzanne Slade is homeschooling 4 youngsters — all under 7. The Peloton community helped her maintain her health and fitness. “Knowing that I’m riding alongside other local mamas is motivating,” she says. “It would be easy to skip a ride. Knowing that others are showing up keeps me accountable.”
Julia Felleman calls her Peloton “a sanity saver. Thirty to 45 minutes to myself amidst 3 kids, homeschooling 2 of them, and a full-time job.”
The best part? “I’ve gained a new text thread of 15 amazing moms. Some were strangers, but now I call them part of my mom-tribe. They motivate me (and my husband) to get on the bike and work out — even if it’s just to burn more calories for that extra cookie or cocktail. This crew of ladies is amazing!”
Vicky Powers adds that despite being apart, it feels like the group is together as they ride. She knew only a handful of the women when she started. “Now I have a whole new group of friends!”
Tally Jacobs says the group has given her things she was missing: “connection to friends, laughs at our group texts, scheduled exercise.”
It is also a chance to “make something positive out of this mess. When else would I get up to work out before my kids go to ‘school’?”
Some of the moms have never actually met. “But we’ve been texting, sharing and riding together for 10 weeks,” Maria says. “One day we’ll all get together in person for a glass of wine!”
Though gyms and cycle studios may open soon, the women will continue their home Peloton rides — and their group texts.
They’d like to connect with other local riders. Use the hashtag #westportrideson with your Pelaton account. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Peloton is an internet-connected stationary bike. Riders download classes — live, or on-demand — through a large touchscreen between the handlebars.