Kerry Mack: Turning a Setback into a Comeback

Kerry Mack

A Spring Break liquid diet is a concept most college kids are all too familiar with. Last April, I was one of those kids—but my situation was a bit different. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in Punta Cana partying with MTV like it was 1999. I was in a hospital bed with morphine, a new disc in my neck and soon a cringe-worthy (but badass) scar. Oatmeal and smoothies were all I could eat—if one can consider that “eating.” I was unable to walk, speak or keep my eyes open. The sickest part, you ask? All I could think about was cycling and running. Moving. Excelling. Crossing a finish line. Through a physically and emotionally tolling experience I learned quite a bit about myself. I also learned that when life throws you a curveball: find a bat and knock that sh*t out of the park.

My story begins last December, just a few days after Christmas. I was in a wistful fog of too much sugar, not being in Manhattan during The Holidays, and four weeks without responsibility. My daily tasks were deciding what to make for breakfast, finalizing which morning talk show I would watch (if I woke up before noon) and burning off those extra holiday pounds. When I attempted to rise out of bed to start my day I couldn’t move. I don’t mean I was so lazy I didn’t care to get out of bed. I literally could not move. My body from the neck up was completely frozen.

I panicked. That was a dream, right? I was a healthy, happy, active 19-year-old girl. I wanted to scream, but I was shocked I couldn’t make a sound. After a few minutes of agony, I was able to roll over onto my side and rise. I was numb physically and emotionally. I could feel in my gut—and neck—something was severely wrong.

My family and I convinced ourselves I kinked my neck and would be fine in a few days. After a week of chiropractor adjustments, Emergency Room visits, and being told to, “Just ice it,” I’d had enough. The pain became so intense I could barely move, and this is coming from a girl who has broken or sprained just about everything. One friend described me as “the healthiest, unhealthy person,” he knew.

Athletics have always played an important role in my character. As a lifelong cheerleader, tumbler and runner I viewed the resilience of my body as a miraculous, yet necessary piece to my puzzle. By no means was I ever MVP. Of anything. But, whenever I felt external stress I would run off the anxiety, flip over tension, or dance until I forgot there was anything wrong. The constant motion I lived in allowed me to not only build momentum and trust in my body. I relied on it for relief when life became overwhelming. Exercise became my meditation…until I couldn’t exercise. Then, meditation became my meditation.

After a visit to an Orthopedic Surgeon, I discovered I had a degenerative disc in my neck that was bulging out into my spinal cord. Essentially, the disc was disintegrating and would begin to cut off blood supply to my spinal cord without action. My doctor, my family, and I were confounded. There was no rhyme or reason for this injury. But, the doctor suspected that it had been in the works due to my long history of high-impact sports. As a result, I was told take it easy and return in six weeks. If the x-rays and MRIs looked the same, I would be in for major spine surgery. My options for exercise were limited to cycling or walking. I decided I would take up cycling. I think I secretly thought after six weeks I would look like Beyonce…

The jury’s still out on that one.

When I returned to Manhattan I took my first indoor cycling class at Revolve. After my 45-minute Body Ride, I was unsure if I took a fitness class or went to a nightclub. I was drenched, dizzy, sore, and on top of the world. I couldn’t wait to go back. I raved about it to everyone I knew. They in turn told me I was insane, and to relax for the time being. But, they didn’t understand that was relaxing to me. There was something about the pulse of the music, the rhythm in my feet and the sweat on my brow that made me come alive. I forgot about my neck, my potential surgery and my parents’ concern. It was as if cycling unleashed a different side of me. Frankly, I wasn’t naturally skilled (in fact, I sucked) and the challenge was intriguing. On particularly overwhelming days, those 45 minutes were my escape. I felt confident in the performance of my body in those moments because I couldn’t bring myself to think about the “what ifs.” In that short time slot, I was giving my all. I didn’t feel like my body had failed me.

After six weeks of “taking it easy,” I felt significantly better. I was no longer in pain and I felt optimistic. I went back to the Orthopedic Surgeon expecting to be cleared for all exercise. Yet, somehow my situation had intensified. My doctor explained that sometimes pain ceases without any real internal healing. I would have to wait nine more weeks until Spring Break when I would get a Spinal Fusion. The doctor would be going through the front of my neck to take the disc out and put an artificial disc in. After, I would have to recover for another 8 weeks. Altogether, this would be a six-month set back. I was devastated. I sobbed and worried my body would never move the same again. I was only 19 and had so much ahead of me!

After a day of tears I decided feeling sorry for myself wouldn’t speed up the healing process, either. I would have to focus on what I could do. For the next nine weeks I could cycle.

The most I could cycle was 1-2 times per week while I awaited surgery. On mornings when I would sign up for an evening class I would look forward to the ride all day. During those nine weeks I didn’t allow myself to think negatively. It was too scary. I focused solely on handling day-to-day matters, remaining calm, and moving my body as much as possible.  I could not turn my back from the momentum I had created in my life through exercise. I could not deviate from my sweat-induced therapy. I needed to hold on to it then more than ever.

I was fortunate enough to heal completely from this freak injury. But, the eight weeks I spent recovering were the worst part of the whole experience. I was itching to get back to running and cycling. Between the two I knew I would be able to clear my head and push my limits. Something inside was telling me that I could come back stronger than ever. I had some badass training ahead of me to match my new badass scar.

I had so much pent up energy over those six months that my first run back was seven miles. No stopping. I could barely walk the next day; I had never been so out of shape, but I didn’t care. I performed similarly during my first indoor cycling class back. When the instructor asked if there were any injuries she should know about I was reluctant to share. Now, I am proud to share my story.

These days, I’ve never felt better. I am running a half marathon in early October, I am running my fastest mile ever, and I still cycle at least once a week. I took the curveball life threw me and knocked it out of the park—and I’m just getting in the game.

– Kerry Mack

12 Days of Revolve Success: Kate Beller

Day 12! There you have it! 12 stories, 12 reasons, 12 inspirations to get you going and keep you going in 2014. Here is the final story of our series featuring DC Rider, Kate Beller.

I had never been to an indoor class before my husband bought me a package as a gift in December 2011.  I’m now completely hooked and usually make 4-7 classes a week.  I had struggled adjusting from the life of a student – which left me ample time to workout on any given day – to the attorney lifestyle.  I had a hard time motivating myself to workout in the limited free time I had.  Revolve filled this void perfectly – it provided with a fun community, motivating instructors, and a great workout that only took 45 mins/an hour from my day.  Since joining, I now have found a way to balance work and working out, and have seen all sorts of results in my health and everyday life.


12 Days of Revolve Success: Heather Mumaw

We are almost there! Here is our 11th installment of the 12 Days of Revolve Success! Meet DC Rider, Heather Mumaw:

Bike #14 and I have had an on and off again relationship since the first week Revolve opened its doors.  I fell in love with Revolve during my very first class, but as often happens in life, I let work, relationships, and other commitments overwhelm my personal time, and my workouts fell by the wayside for far too long. 

In February 2013, I decided to end a long-term relationship.  I was sad, lonely, and intensely angry. Then one day, I remembered bike #14, and how on the bike, in a darkly lit room, with the music pumping, you can tune out everything else in your life and just focus on peddling and sweating for an hour.  Immediately, I threw on some workout clothes, and ran (actually ran!) to Revolve.  The first ride back at Revolve hooked me.  I became addicted.  Dorothy’s mantra “more gear less fear” resonated with me, and became MY new mantra.  I started going to class every day. I peddled so much, I’m surprised bike #14 didn’t fall apart on me mid-ride!  


I’m not sure when exactly I converted from anger-peddling in a darkly lit room to cycling for pleasure in a room full of friends, but somewhere in between Francina’s Beyonce theme ride, James’ “Best Monday Everrr,” and Saturday double headers with Angel (or as I fondly referred to them as “deadly doubles”), I learned not only about the importance of exercise endorphins, but also about the benefits of a fitness community.  

Revolve’s community is something I’ve never experienced in any other gym.  Everyday I’m grateful for and inspired by the Revolve riders, instructors, and staff and I’m so happy to call so many of you my friends! THANK YOU Revolve!  

THANK YOU, Heather, for your commitment, for riding, and for your positivity! See you on a bike soon!

12 Days of Revolve Success: Dana Tarricone

Meet NYC Rider, Dana Tarricone, and her story how Revolve hooked her to be better and stronger! 

I have been an athlete my whole life and started getting into indoor cycling a few years ago at the local gym.  I first came to Revolve last winter after getting frustrated with the uninspiring classes in my gym. I was looking to get my routine in a different place without “fuss.”  


My first class was a Saturday morning Body Ride (I’m an early bird) with Christianne – I had zero expectation but was hopeful – what was this new no name studio in my neighborhood?  After the hardest 45 minutes I had ever had in a bike studio I was instantly HOOKED.  I loved that there were no gimmicks just hard work. Push-ups on a bike? NO THANK YOU!

Each teacher is inspiring in his/her own unique way and each class (after almost a year) still pushes me to work harder and get stronger.  I love that Revolve has become an important part of my life and I thank each and every instructor for making me a better/stronger version of myself both inside and out!

Dana, THANK YOU! Your words have captured what we strive to create and achieve for our riders everyday! Keep up the great work!

12 Days of Revolve Success: Monica Kohn

DC Rider Monica Kohn got healthy this past year mentally and physically. Here is her story:

I had always been pretty healthy, but after two kids and a year away from turning 40, I was at a crossroads. I had gotten away from regular exercise (aside from chasing toddlers), had not been sleeping well, and had the habit of eating what I could, when I could. I did not feel week – I was tired and brain fogged most of the time.

I happened to walk by Revolve one day, and curious, I stopped in to ask what it was about. I had never taken a and indoor cycling class before. I gave it a shot. The first ride was very challenging but I was hooked.

Image 9

It took me 2 months of hard work and sticking to it to be able to ride and do the class completely. I have asthma so I took it one class at a time. Now, I feel better than ever. When I turned 40 this year and when I went for my yearly check up all my numbers where in the right place. I have more energy, sleep better, and just feel stronger.  

Like I said I was at a crossroad. Thankfully, I found Revolve and it put me on the right path. I realized you have to put yourself first and say no to other things so you have time to exercise and take care of yourself.

Keep it up, Monica! We are very happy to be part of your success! Wishing you continued triumphs in 2014! 

12 Days of Revolve Success: Karen Diener

In September 2013, DC Rider Karen Diener set out to climb Mt. Baker in the North Cascades of Washington state. When Karen came back, she attributed much of her success to her cross training at Revolve. Here is her story:

Rainier and Mt Baker 127

What led you to tackle Mt. Baker? How did Revolve help you make it to the top? 

In July 2013, I attempted Mt. Rainier, and unfortunately, I did not summit like I had hoped.  I had to stop short of the top and make a decision to come down as I was too dizzy and out of breath.  It was then that I searched for something to add to my training regiment that would build my leg strength and lung capacity to tackle these much harder climbs.  One of my successful climber friends said she did indoor cycling classes several times a week.  So, when I came back I asked people where the best class was in the DC area and a fellow rider, Sarah DuFrane, told me about Revolve and how much she loved it.

I started at Revolve DC in August 2013 and came about three times a week. In September, I successfully summited Mt. Baker (which is next to Mt. Rainier and also a glacier climb) and I could not believe how much stronger I felt and how much better my breathing was on this climb.  Indoor cycling gave me the ability to control my exhaustion as I got closer to the top.  Deep cleansing breathes to push out the Carbon Dioxide in your lungs is required during climbs, I get to practice this on the bike when we go breathless on a ride and have to continue our pace and learn to breath through it.

Rainier and Mt Baker 067

What inspired you to climb Mt Baker? 

I wanted to climb more technical mountains and Baker is a glacier climb where you learn crevasse rescue, ice skills, snow skills, etc.  It is a goal in itself but also a part of my training to be able to climb Cotopaxi in Ecuador and the Bolivian mountains next year.

How do you keep your head in the game during tough moments climbing?

I stay completely present with myself to get through “scary” or tough parts of climb. When you get discouraged, you look at it in sections and get to the next break.  This is also like our rides when the instructor helps you to get through a heavy climb and you know in a minute you get to recover before you go again.  You learn that you can dig deeper than you thought you could and that your body serves you if you can get your mind to push to your goal.

Rainier and Mt Baker 130

If I want to climb Mt. Baker, where do I begin?

It is always best to take a week long training course with the mountain guides for that mountain.  RMI and First Ascents are two companies that take people climbing in these North Cascade Mountains of Washington state.  They send you full training schedules three months ahead of your week with them and if you tailor your daily training to that schedule you will be in good shape.  Mountain climbing takes strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility.  It is one of the most physically demanding as you need to carry weight on your back as you go up on average about 3000 feet a day varying between 25 to 45 degree elevation angles.  You move slowly, but if something happens or you are in a more dangerous zone, you will need to move quickly and respond fast while maintaining balance.

What are your tips to beginning Revolve riders?

What is great about indoor cycling is it can work for whatever your physical goals may be.  You can adjust the intensity to fit where you are today and increase as you go.  It is surprising how fast you get strong if you use that hour to demand things of yourself you might not have in other activities.


12 Days of Revolve Success: Ashley L

Another inspiring success story from Revolve NYC Rider, Ashley!

I started going to Kristin’s classes at Revolve with my friend Stef because she was getting married at the end of the summer and swore that this place was going to change my perspective on working out. I was hesitant at first, but knew that if I wanted to stay healthy I should at least give the class a shot. I mention staying healthy because when I was 26 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (known by many as “the good cancer” if you’ve ever watched Curb Your Enthusiasm, but none the less still cancer). Long story short, did my dance with chemo, rocked a pixie hair cut for longer that I would have liked, and I have been in remission for 2 years.

Last spring, I did my first Real Ride with Kristin, and I have never felt so accomplished or motivated. Kristen is one of the only instructors I have worked out with where you will never once look at the clock to see how much longer class is because she has everyone completely focused on giving 100%. Even when I am not in the mood for class, I know I will walk out feeling absolutely amazing after riding with Kristin. This is the first workout class I have ever stuck with for more than 2-3 months and the results of Kristen’s intense classes are paying off.

My doctor says my numbers are better than they have ever been before and I actually feel truly healthy for the first time in a few years. I cannot thank Revolve and Kristin enough for getting me hooked on the Real Ride :)

From ‘Real Ride – Keeping me motivated and healthy’ by 25ToLifer on November 6, 2013


12 Days of Revolve Success: Kate Peterson

This is what it’s all about! Great story from DC Rider, Kate Peterson! 

My first ride at Revolve was two summers ago when I was looking for some cross-training I could do in between long runs. I attended class on and off (more when I wasn’t training for a race) until this past September when I got a stress fracture in my heel. After three miserable weeks of not being allowed to do anything, my doctor gave me the go ahead to try cycling. I went straight to Revolve (like literally… on the way home from Virginia Hospital Center)!

I started going nearly every day. It was therapeutic for me. I am someone who needs to be in motion, who needs to be sweating and moving, and Revolve did that for me. I had spent the three previous weeks feeling like all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers. Revolve picked me up, put me back on my feet, and helped me feel excited about exercising again.

Cycling at Revolve offers me that physical challenge and replicates the emotional “high” that I get from running. The instructors are challenging – they demand a lot of you, but also give all they have to each class. It is also similar to running in that it offers a great community of like-minded people. I feel a lot more positive and happy being able to hit up “club revolve” as Stephanie would say. I was also able to keep up my cardiovascular endurance.

Recently, I finally got the go ahead from my doctor to start running again. I wouldn’t say things are pretty, but I am amping up my mileage without feeling too winded. I’m excited to start running again, but I’m positively hooked on Revolve, so my training plan will include a lot more cross-training!

Kate, What a wonderful story! We are so glad we are part of it, that your experience has been positive, and still continues to evolve for you! Thanks for keeping us in your plans for 2014! We look forward to more rides with you! #RockStar

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 10.13.26 AM

12 Days of Revolve Success: Kristin Wagenmann

Here is more amazing success from 2013 in our 12 Days of Revolve Success series. What will YOU achieve in 2014? Today’s inspiring story comes from DC Rider, Kristin Wagenmann.


I had brain surgery a year and a half ago. I gained some weight because I was unable to workout for a while – mixed with some cookies and ice cream as my post-surgery comfort food. I started classes at Revolve in Summer 2013 and have lost 13+ inches so far over my entire body! I am so much stronger than I was before the surgery and when I go on hikes with my friends I am the first up the hills! I have more muscle definition and I’m just a happier person. Revolve helps me continue to be a stronger, more confident woman. The instructors motivate me to keep going and I push myself harder each class. It’s the first time that I’ve found a workout routine that keeps me coming back. Every Monday I rush to sign up for classes that week – and I love when I’m sore a few days after class because I know that I got a great workout!

Kristin, we are so happy you are healthy, happy, and found success in 2013. We hope we can continue to be part of your life in the coming year. Thanks for riding! 

12 Days of Revolve Success: Mallika Iyer

More success from 2013! Check out this story from NYC rider, Mallika Iyer! She found the strength to believe in her body again after starting to ride at Revolve NYC in early 2013.

Years ago, I suffered from a horrible rock-climbing accident. It left both my knees badly injured, the cartilage extremely damaged, and it took all of 6 years to almost heal. I couldn’t walk for a year and it still bothers me today whenever I push myself too hard. My doctor told me that I should absolutely avoid biking. Or Spinning. Or running. Unless I wanted to get injured again. Apparently once broken, it’s never fixed. I can attest to that, as I have to get painful injections into my knee every year, to keep it strong. Not to mention countless sessions of physiotherapy. I stuck to other workouts – barre based, weights, strength training, mild cardio – very reluctantly and with a great deal of apprehension.

I first tried Revolve in early 2013. I figured, 1 class. That’s it. ONE SESSION. Worst case scenario, I’ll stop and leave after 10 minutes if my knees start to hurt. I started my first ride; my first time on a bike after almost 7 years. To say I was terrified of relapsing would be an understatement. The dim lights helped! I was expecting to stop, I was expecting the knee pain to return, but it didn’t. Instead, something amazing happened – I FELT amazing. Strong. Like the accident never happened. I kept coming back. I loved that I could forget the old weaknesses of my body. I can’t ride every day, but I can do it often enough to continue doing it for a long time.

Revolve NYC helped believe in my body again. Frankly, I can’t ask for more.         


Congratulations, Mallika! Keep up the great work!