Monday, April 23, 2012

What Exactly Is So Amazing About Soul Cycle?

I had to think about whether to post this on my running blog or on my wellness-oriented blog and it definitely seems to fit more with the wellness, as much as Soul Cycle is a part of my running/training routine!

So this isn't a review of Soul Cycle, because I am a loyal Soul Cycle rider, and I would give it rave reviews, five stars all the way across the board. But instead, this is about what draws ME to Soul Cycle...

I enter exercise classes with a different mindset than most other exercisers. I am not there to lose weight. I am there to feel good. I spent years of my life chasing after the elusive perfect weight, and only found myself in a deeper hole. After battling anorexia and bulimia, I finally began to reintegrate exercise into my life a couple of years ago. I started with yoga, because I enjoyed yoga while I was in treatment. Then I experienced a sudden weight gain and I knew I had to work some cardio into my routine. That was when I first tried a spin class. Not a Soul Cycle class though. After a month or so with no weight change, I was thinking, "screw it."

Then, my dietitian recommended Soul Cycle. I live half an hour from the nearest Soul Cycle studio, if there's no traffic. However, when I set foot into that studio in Scarsdale in November 2010, it was different than any workout I had ever done. We weren't being told to burn calories, we were being told to set an intention. It wasn't about losing weight, fitting into those jeans, or being entitled to eat ice cream later. It was about doing good for ourselves and for someone else. About centering ourselves. About those principles of yoga that I just could not grasp in a yoga class. Somehow, I was able to take in the "zen" component while doing intense cardio that I just couldn't let in during yoga.

Certainly, every instructor at Soul Cycle is different, and there have been some that I have liked more than others. My favorites have been Gabrielle in Scarsdale, Louise on the UWS, and Christine on the UES. What I like best about these instructors is the way they make it a workout that's about more than just working out. It's about making yourself better from the inside out, and challenging yourself. It's about smiling, laughing, dancing, and realizing that there are more important things in life than your jeans size. My favorite instructors, and really all of Soul Cycle, help you to find a sense of purpose on the bike and off the bike. A sense of purpose greater than a diet.

Really, a good Soul Cycle class to me feels like a good therapy session. And while some people may argue that Soul Cycle is expensive, I have to say that it's cheaper than a therapy session! I'm guilty of being a poor, unemployed grad student (soon to be unemployed grad!) going to therapy in addition to going to Soul Cycle, but I've been through a lot of shit in my life and I deserve it! Everyone deserves to be happy and healthy. Soul Cycle is an essential part of what gets me there and keeps me there.

I only do 1-2 Soul Cycle classes a week. The majority of my fitness regimen is running. Training for marathons and half marathons. But I look forward to my classes every week and my weight has leveled back off to where it should be, if only because I have been so happy with all of my flowing endorphins that I haven't been WORRYING about it, and supposedly when we stop worrying about our weight, that's when it goes where it needs to be.

Soul Cycle kept me sane when I couldn't run following an injury in the NYC marathon. It's a great reward when I know I have to do something that day or week that I just don't want to do. And I have my favorite teachers, who I don't get to take often, whose classes feel like holiday celebrations to me.

So what exactly is so amazing about Soul Cycle? Everything...