The Forbidden F Word

Failure. It’s a concept that most of us avoid. Making mistakes, not completing a task or project as well as we wanted, yelling at our kids (#parentfail), or not even trying something new because we fear the F word.

This post focuses on failure in the fitness world, but the message rings true for life. We aren’t perfect; we are human. When we fail, it’s an opportunity to do better the next time, to understand what went wrong, or to simply recognize that you’re not perfect and that you’ll keep trying.

At Ascend, we strive for a better version of ourselves both on and off the bike. I believe that through physical challenges, we gain the mental fortitude to believe in ourselves. We learn that we can push beyond our perceived limitations, to accept a challenge, and that it takes time and ongoing effort to see improvement.

A good friend of mine and client of Ascend said the other day, “But I’m competitive. I don’t like not being able to do something that others in the room can.”

Can I understand his frustration? Of course. My answer? “You keep trying. What’s the point of only doing things where you’re comfortable and confident? You’ll plateau…you won’t get stronger.”

You approach this challenge on the bike with determination. You hold a standing run for as long as you can. You add more resistance. You pick up a heavier med ball. You shoot for one more squat. You push to your peak. And then you try again.

The beauty in fitness is that failure progresses us to success. It’s proven science. Each time we push our limit, we get a little stronger: a longer sprint, more resistance on a climb, one or two more reps in Ascend Underground. Whatever you’re working on, don’t give up. Push to that place where you feel uncomfortable, and know that it’s worth it. Know the results are coming.

Training smart with experienced and qualified coaches allows you to push to your point of failure (what we at Ascend call your Peak) without pushing to a place where it hurts or risks injury. It’s increasing weight or resistance while maintaining good form, it’s recognizing when you may need a modification to complete the movement safely, and it’s taking your progression one rep and one class at a time. You improve by failing and continuing to try and try again.

Our coaches in Ascend Underground will help you modify and progress your strength training through thoughtfully designed, purposeful formats. In Ascend Cycle, our spin program is based on how you as an individual feel, rather than on an arbitrary resistance or gear generalized for the class. We are here to challenge you while using safe and effective exercise principles in a small group setting.

So here’s my pep talk. You’re stronger than you think. You can handle more than you know. Own the challenge. Try something new. We’re here to support you and cheer you on. It’s how we Ascend.


  • The latest from Kat
Owner & Operator | Ascend Cycle
Combining her degree in Exercise Science with her past experience as a healthcare consultant, Kat blends her fitness expertise with her background in superb customer service ethic to create the Ascend Experience. And don’t be surprised when she knows your name – Kat’s goal is to get know her community on a personal level. She’s a mom of two energetic toddlers, but still makes time to crush a ride on the bike and just for balance, relax with a glass of wine at one of her favorite local Del Ray spots.

Climb higher, sprint faster, Ascend.

Our classes are crafted with one goal in mind: to help you reach peak performance: We help you unleash your inner power with intentional rides, you leave the studio a stronger version of yourself. Our instructors know how to push you beyond perceived limitations, empowering you build physical and mental stamina. It comes full circle for us when you bring that newfound confidence into every aspect of your life. |

2413 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, Virginia 22301


1 Comment

  1. Avatar Sally says:

    Oh, how I resonated with the comment about not being able to do what othe people can do. I have struggled with this forever. Then I took up golf and there were time when I swung and missed the ball completely. Whiffed it. One time I swung and the ball went backwards. Then I had several revelations: one was that there are only the rarest of people for whom NO ONE is better. Tiger, in his prime. But did every other professional golfer give up and go home? No, they kept at it. They kept at it, even on Sundays in front of huge crowds, when they were ten strokes back. The other revelation was when I was playing with experienced golfers and so embarrassed at my play. It dawned on me that they weren’t angry or upset with me – they were just grateful to be better than someone!

    The other revelation was not golf related. It’s one most parents can relate to. My older niece was taking tennis lessons and she didn’t want to go back. When I asked why, it was because she wasn’t good at tennis. I made the practice makes perfect pitch, but then decided to put it in other terms, terms she could understand. Her younger sister was learning to walk. I asked her if Lauren was good at walking yet? We had a good laugh about how she kept falling on her bum. She pulled herself up on tables. Big sis helped her by holding her hand. Mom and Dad did the monster walk with her, over and over. Everyone encouraged her, helped her, made her practice, until she got it. No one said, the first time she tried, oh, well, nevermind – you aren’t good at this so don’t even try.

    So, long story short, be as kind to yourself as you would be to others. Takes a lot of pressure off.

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