Go-to workout of A-list celebrities, fashion insiders and fitness enthusiasts alike, SoulCycle is an indoor cycling class that has swept the nation. One part cycling, one part dance (yes, on a bike) and two parts inspirational coaching movement, this is not your mother’s aerobics.
Now, as SoulCycle it celebrates its 10th anniversary, Estée Stories sat down with two of the first—and most sought-after—instructors, Laurie Cole and Stacey Griffith. To them (and the near-fanatic community of more than 16,000 riders a day), it’s much more than a workout, it’s about creating an experience—a philosophy that Estée Lauder herself also famously believed. Together with the other 290 instructors nationwide, they help ensure that riders across the country get not only a calorie-burning, sweat-inducing workout, but the famously awesome playlists and life-affirming messages they came into Soul’s candlelit studios for. And even if you can’t get to a studio yourself, these two inspirational women still have plenty of solid life advice to take away.
Instead of looking for obstacles, you look for opportunities.
Why SoulCycle has become such a phenomenon…
Griffith: We are so opposite of gym culture, where there is a lot more competition. We are completely community-driven. We are inclusive. We are all about the riders and the friendships of the riders and cultivating little tribes and squads of people that have common ground and all have similar interests.
Cole: When the lights go down, the candles go up, the music is on, the playing field is completely even. It doesn't matter where you came from, who you are, how much money you have, everybody is in unison. 60 bodies moving in a harmonious way is a very powerful feeling. It allows you to feel good about yourself and start to care about the good of other people. It’s called SoulCycle, so it has to be soulful.
On the connection between beauty and fitness…
Griffith: It’s all about taking care of the inside of the body as well as the outside. This [she points to her “outside”] is like your coat of armor. I grew up with a mother who took such great care of her skin. We did masks with egg whites, we did avocados, we did cucumbers. She is the one who taught me. Take care of your skin, exfoliate, put lotion on. It doesn’t have to take 20 minutes. My regime is like 5 minutes. Every night, every day.
Cole: I love beauty. I live for beauty. I think it’s important to allow yourself to feel pretty and put together. It takes effort, and effort is good—it’s acknowledging that you’re treating yourself well.
Beauty advice for before and after a workout…
Griffith: There’s something to be said about what comes out of your skin when you sweat—that’s part of detoxifying. So it’s better for your skin to come to class fresh, no makeup on. Then afterward, rinse your face with cold water.
Cole: If you do wear makeup, try not to keep it on too long post-workout. As soon as you’re done, cleanse your face and moisturise. You can even carry makeup wipes.
Favourite thing about teaching…
Griffith: Seeing people light up. Watching a rider maybe start at zero and crank up their energy level to a 10 by the time they leave. Even their posture, just the way their facial expressions change. I’ve seen so many people completely morph into a different version of themselves. That's why I do it.
Cole: What you’re doing in that room is changing your body, but that’s just one part of the puzzle. You’re actually changing your whole relationship to life. You’re facing your fears. Instead of looking for obstacles, you look for opportunities. It’s an honorable thing to do, to change somebody’s life.
Signature motivational words of encouragement…
Griffith: I really have just become a channel for quotes. It's not like I read them and rehearse them and remember to say them. They just...come. I’ve even put several on T-shirts! "Sexy, strong, confident. It's who you are." "If you're going to be hard on yourself, you should feel the hard on yourself." And, "No one remembers normal."
Cole: [All of the instructors] wrote their personal mantras on the wall of our first studio before it was demolished. Mine was “Do it with integrity. Do it with love. Do it to make a difference.” I hope that people walk away truly inspired to be a better version of the person who walked in at the beginning of my class.