Soul Sisters: A SoulCycle Transformation

Jessica Blank

No one has ever once described us as "fit" or "athletic" or "coordinated."

This only bothered us for a very brief period in middle school when our legs were too long for our waists and our elbows too pointy for our faces, which were, in turn, too fat for our earlobes.

We both dealt with this unfortunate reality by becoming nerds. Because if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And if they won't let you join 'em, study their psychological inferiority.

And so we did. And we've never looked back. Until last week, when we realized we were both embarrassingly out of shape. Like, winded from walking back from the cafeteria for the third time that day levels of out of shape.

So we turned to SoulCycle -- a cycling fad which has swept the nation. Founded in 2006 by Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, the company now has studios across the West and East coasts. Thousands of SoulCylcers -- the majority of who are women -- "ride" every week, the company says.

First thing we noticed: How friendly and enthusiastic everyone was. We were welcome with open, intensely toned arms. Upon entering the class ($34), we were given special shoes ($3 for rental) that clipped into our stationary bikes, a SoulCycle employee gently helping us to maneuver the clipping-in process. Now firmly grounded, we were ready to soar.

Enter Jolie, our instructor and inspiration for the next hour. She was a bundle of energy and charisma, a crazy fit mother of a baby.

She wouldn't only guide us through a "ride" that involved "tapping back" along with the "pack," she also (wo)manned the lights, sounds, and rhythm of the workout. SoulCyclers "ride" by candlelight, to the beat of whatever they're spinning at 'da club' these days. The exercise is, at its most basic, "bike dancing," but it's also about forming a community and cultivating a very specific brand and message. This includes the idea that SoulCycle isn't just for your body -- it feeds your spirituality. Words like "WARRIOR" "RENEGADE" "ROCKSTAR" "LEGEND" are printed in block letters across the walls of the studio to remind us that we're probably going down in history for our sculpted glutes.

SoulCyclers ride for each other, for communities, to be a better mother, daughter, lover, etc. Some will also ride for certain causes. For example, you can pay a lot of money to ride next to a Victoria's Secret Angel or a Real Housewife -- all for cancer research, of course.

But after the 45 minutes session, we were sold. There's something inexplicably invigorating about being part of the pulsing pack -- like being members of a Save the Last Dance/Step Up/Honey dance crew, in zip-off cargo pants, bandanas, and Julia Stiles corn-rows.

And all for a good cause, too. Ourselves.

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