The holiday weekend brought sun, fun, and a steady diet of bagels, cheese, beer, and chips, so there’s no better time for some serious fitness inspiration. In this special edition of “Skinny Girl Problems, I’m getting to the bottom of SoulCycle, with fellow Conqueror Maureen Granados. She was nice enough to talk to me about the softer side of the exercise institution, and Maureen’s story of dedication, perseverance, and getting in shape will definitely have you excited for your next workout. I know her Facebook posts always get me stoked for mine.
A lot of people’s fitness/health journey starts with an “A HA!” moment. What inspired you to get in shape?
It’s funny – I’ve never considered myself a fitness enthusiast, and still don’t…but I guess the “A HA” moment came in February 2013, when I was knee-deep in an intense work project, eating poorly out of stress and not really exercising. It wasn’t so much an “I want to get in shape” situation as much as it was “I’d like to not completely destroy my well-being over the next two months.” I knew regular exercise would be the best medicine but I was bad at self-motivating…so I also knew I needed something that would force me to show up, led by someone who would kick my ass.
Enter my old friend Bethany Lyons, who is an instructor at SoulCycle (one of the originals, in fact), who’d been trying to get me to come to her class there since the place opened. Finally, I was ready to take her up on it…and I fell in love right away! (Seriously…her class is mind-blowingly amazing. I can’t believe I’m saying that about ANY sort of exercise, but it’s true.)
What kinds of exercise are you doing?
Besides SoulCycle, I also take yoga at Bethany’s own studio (Lyons Den Power Yoga). I find that the two exercises complement each other really well, and having grown up dancing, I’ve always done best in a group exercise setting. However…recently I’ve also sloowwwwly started incorporating running back in to my fitness regime…and am kind of liking it.
Tell us about the results! What are some of the rewards of all your hard work?
Again, I’m not a fitness junkie so I don’t weigh myself or track calories burned or anything like that. I guess the best results have been those I can’t quantitatively measure: a renewed sense of self, a completely energized outlook, boosted confidence…the list goes on.
What have you found to be the key in staying motivated and dedicated to your workouts?
I think the key was finding something (or things) that I liked. It’s easy to keep coming back when it’s fun. Also, both Soul and Lyons Den foster a strong sense of community amongst their students. While it’s implied at both studios that mostly everyone is there to keep healthy and stay in shape, really what instructors at both studios emphasize – and what I find to be the attitude of many of my fellow riders/yogis – is that everyone should show up with the intention of doing their best and inspiring others to do the same. The energy this creates in each space is incredible – I will say that I have been pushed in these classes by my fellow students as much as the instructors sometimes! And, as a result, I’ve made some phenomenal new friends who not only motivate me in class, but whose support extends far beyond the bike and the mat as well.
I’ve heard Soul Cycle can be pretty intense! What about them keeps you going back?
It’s definitely not an easy workout! I love so many things about it, but most of all I love that it’s a workout for your body, mind AND spirit all at once (as cheesy as that may sound). Through Soul, I have built not only physical strength but also emotional strength through the supportive yet challenging environment created by my fellow riders and the instructors. Speaking of which: the instructors are amazing! You’ll never experience the same class twice, and there is someone for everyone. The four with whom I regularly ride are, for me, role models on and off the bike, and all play a major role in my dedication to SoulCycle. I’m very lucky to know them!
What has been your proudest fitness moment?
I surprised myself recently – I signed up for a little 5K on Long Island just to see if I could do it. I didn’t really set any goals but was just a little hopeful I could finish in 30 minutes (I’m not a runner AT ALL, so this is a good time for me)…and I ended up running it in 28 minutes and change! It was an amazing feeling to have run faster than I ever have in my life, with seemingly less effort than when I made slower times. I guess the work is paying off! 🙂
“This was taken following one of Bethany’s recent SoulCycle classes. I’m second in from the left; Bethany is next to me to my left (wearing the bandana)… We had just had an amazing class and were, simply put, just so purely happy to know each other and be in each others’ presence that morning. This photo makes me smile every time I look at it. Oh…and hopefully no one involved minds my posting a sweaty picture of them to the internet!”