How Katie Couric Inspired Me to Try Spinning at BlogHer '12

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Mary Dell writes: In the realm of athletics I am a dud, both coordination and motivation-challenged. When I attended BlogHer '12 this summer and heard Katie Couric describe herself as “lazy” (regarding exercise) yet willing to ride a stationary bike in a spinning class, I began to wonder if this might be a good workout for me since I’m a little lazy, too.

BlogHer 2012-4732

As if the gym gods were sending me a message, I picked up More magazine’s September issue and found an article on spinning inside. I read about SoulCycle, a small but growing chain of spinning studios that happen to be Katie’s choice. Founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler created their company in 2006. “Spinning a business out of nothing,” they entered into a strategic partnership with the Equinox sports-club company and expect to increase their studio count to 50-60 locations by 2015. Along the way, they created fresh-pressed juices and designed workout clothing. They also raise $500,000 for charity, every year. Both moms, Rice and Cutler are successfully expanding their business and creating jobs as they grow. What’s not to admire? (Actually, only the price, at $32 per class keeps my enthusiasm in check.)

I clicked on their website and discovered that a studio had opened close to my suburban house 20 minutes away. How many more signs did I need to try a spinning class?

Still, I was reluctant. I had to face my fear that I might be the lone ugly (and older) duckling in a room of spandex swans. The feeling of walking into a gym where everyone seems to be fit already, not to mention younger, is not a happy one. Despite Katie’s enthusiasm, I wondered if I could believe the SoulCycle mission was for me:

Take your journey. Change your body. Find your soul.

Or If I would be able to find my way in their studio:

By keeping the lights low and riding by candlelight, SoulCycle creates a cardio sanctuary where riders can come to clear their heads.

The celebrities, the press accolades, the glamorous locations (NYC, LA, Hamptons)… would I feel self-conscious and out-of-place? I wondered if it was possible to fall off my bike or embarrass myself in any other way.

Fortunately, after attending one class, I understand why Katie gave it thumbs up with her incredibly toned arms. Here is what I discovered about working out at SoulCycle:

1. Felt like I belonged. I was not alone in age, gender or apparent fitness level.

2. Tailored to my ability. A twist of the knob, changing resistance levels on the bike, kept me going at a pace I could endure.

3. Friendly staff. They made a bit of a fuss over the “new riders” in the class, adjusting our bikes and shoes before we began.

4. Organized. Using an airplane-type seat assignment reservation system, you choose your class and bike, reducing chaos in the crowded room.

5. Boredom prevention. It is relatively easy to stay motivated for the 45 minute class.

6. No prerequisites. There is no call for eye-hand coordination or knowledge of dance steps.

7. Upper body workout. Hand weights attached to the back of the bike are used during the last section of the class making for an efficient attack on kimono arms.

8. It is fun. It has to be or the probability of my returning is zero.

As the class winds down, I realize that in addition to getting a good, sweaty cardio workout, I was reminded of a younger me, when exercising in a darkened room, music at full blast, meant a lively night of dancing. Did I find my soul? Not sure about that, but I can’t wait to go time traveling at SoulCycle again.


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