It was immediately clear that Njinga's indoor training sessions were nothing like spin classes. The first few sessions were intimidating and the focus was solely on my performance. Elite athletes attended the classes, too – people pushing out four or five times more watts than me! And to top it all off, your individual power scores were up on the big screen for everyone to see! I felt in over my head and embarrassed at not just being last but being last by quite some way.
But once I realised that no one cared about anyone else's results – they were just focused on themselves – the numbers became my motivation and drive to "not leave the lab disappointed", as Josh, one of the Njinga instructors at the time, liked to say.
My first few classes
My first few classes continued to be intimidating – I felt self-conscious setting myself up each time and having to ask for the trainer pedals to be added, but the whole Njinga team was always super friendly and the care they took was comforting to me as I'd been injured in the past from badly fitted spin bikes.
The FTP test (cue: scary music)
Without an FTP test, you have to gauge your efforts at different points in the class, so sometimes I'd burn too much too early. But once I'd undertaken my first test, I was no longer second-guessing my numbers. I had a purpose and focus!
That's when I think I levelled up:
I knew what I needed to do in each class based on my fitness level and this gave me the incentive to push.
My first FTP test wasn't the only milestone that happened: I also moved in to cleats – eek! Yet again, the Njinga team were super encouraging and assured me cleats would improve my technique and I'd see small gains quickly. Within a few weeks, I'd drunk the Njinga Kool Aid.
I was pushing my numbers and loving the buzz of a great session and everything that came with it: hard work, sweat, and the endorphins that pulsed through my body after every session.
I felt like I'd literally found a new lease on life.
Plus, I found it easy to fit Njinga into my lifestyle: Multiple classes across the evening worked with my job and I could get to the Lab at least twice a week.
So while I didn't initially join Njinga to train – for me, it was about joining my husband in doing something we both loved – I found so much more in Njinga than I ever could have imagined.
Njinga training programmes
I first experienced the fantastic community that makes Njinga truly special when I participated in one of their group training programmes.
There is such a breadth of people that attend:
There are twenty-year-olds and people in their sixties; men and women; athletes; and those just trying to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
The particular programme that I enrolled in was made up of very different standards but it didn't matter. We all had our own targets and the encouragement of everyone was all for the same purpose: to improve and get stronger. We spent eight-weeks training twice a week together and the buzz and sense of achievement at the end was amazing. We had created an unbreakable bond and I made some great friends. I improved my FTP considerably on the programme, too!