Like Riding a Bike

photoShe’s gorgeous.  If you have a Filipino mother and Jewish father, you get a Samantha Feinerman.

Who is she?

She’s a former spin teacher and now full-time Yoga instructor in Silver Lake.  She’s a force of motivation, and one look at her body — well, that IS the marketing strategy.

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When she announced that she would be teaching a Friday night Yoga class at a Silver Lake studio, and said it would be with a live D.J.,  of course I showed up. The lighting was dim, and the music was groovy and relaxing, and for the ultimate Shivasana, the class ended with a glass of wine.

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I loved her, and I wanted to know more about her story, and specifically the moments and measures it took get to where she is today.  Samantha had a touching, sad, funny, and yet familiar, story.

She suffered from teenage depression, a state of mind exacerbated in anyone by adolescence and the high school years.  “I would go straight from age sixteen to twenty-three” she told me, which I believe is a common sentiment.  “Everything between those years was a clusterfuck of confusion.”  She’s past it now, but at that time she said,  “I dove right into darkness, but I was alive…  “ and her voice fades off.

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To all this I have to agree, I myself wouldn’t be twenty-two years old again for twenty-two-million dollars.  You can’t enjoy life if you don’t have a mind that can see and hold joy.  What you have is classic depression, and whenever you sit down with a woman who went there as a teenage girl, they have a strength like some kind of inner Navy Seal training.  Samantha has that.   It reads like a bad boyfriend that had once lived in her head, and it’s over.  She doesn’t need to understand what went down, but just respect the depth of its effect, and do what it takes to never go back that way.  It shows up by having empathy for others, and there’s pride in the survival.. That’s where she was, and now she’s firmly in the realm of a new life today.  14445982_1333667940007099_6345353862107069576_n

But back then there was a point where she had a life-crossing-near to death experience and found herself choosing to go up.  In other words she found the fight, and slowly she ebbed out of the depression.  She joined a gym, began to exercise, and found Yoga.  Then she found a great Yoga Studio, then the right Yoga Teacher, and then she found herYoga Practice.

Like,  capital Y– O G A. 

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Once this happened she volunteered at Big Brothers and Sisters, and began to work with kids who didn’t exactly have a big cheerful foundation and bright future ahead.  “I was no longer part of this dark inner community with myself.”  She had become part of something where change was visible, and reflected what was happening inside.  All she had to do was look at those boys and girls.  If she put in the time she could see it on their faces.  So the next turn up -and out- of depression simply came by doing something for others.

“Around that time,” she goes on with her story, “my boyfriend had begun trying to teach me how to ride a real bicycle”

Woh.  Drop the mic.  Hold on!    14095894_1309074425799784_5032809472043925002_n

I’m thinking to myself  – Did we jump back in our conversation? She’s twenty-something, right?    She was a Spin Instructor.  And yes, she was twenty-one, and no -this is true – she did not know how to ride a bike.   It seems plausible to her,  the explanation being, “my dad’s an older guy, he wasn’t an outdoors man.”

And that’s how she found herself at twenty-one  in a Toys ‘R’ Us with her boyfriend talking her out of the idea of training wheels.  “I wanted training wheels.”  And apparently, it’s really hard to learn to ride a bike as an adult.  “It uses fast twitch muscles,” Samantha explains, “you need muscle memory.”

13876152_1290166697690557_4427799283572042387_nIt’s one of those skills like foreign language that is best achieved when you’re young.  But they got through, her boyfriend got her past the Toys ‘R’ Us moment, and Samantha moved to a proper mountain bike, and her mountain bike liked riding along the L.A. River, and one day it was raining, and she wanted a place to ride, and she saw a spin studio on Hyperion.

“I walked in,” she says, “ and I cried my first spin class, I didn’t know how to do it.”

This however, is no longer the case.  She’s a full time yoga instructor, accomplished cyclist (no training wheels needed) and a rock climber.

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She’s also happily married to that boyfriend who taught her how to ride a bike, and the rest somehow she learned along the way.  Born and raised in Silver Lake.  This is how Samantha Feinerman became Samantha Feinerman. 

 

 

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