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Samantha Wills

When people ask me my religion, I say SOUL CYCLE. 

When people ask me my religion, I say SOUL CYCLE

With Mantas after riding in his New Years day class, at the 19th St SOUL CYCLE Studio, NYC.

With Mantas after riding in his New Years day class, at the 19th St SOUL CYCLE Studio, NYC.

There are two reasons why I am writing this post. 

1. Even if you don't live near a SOUL CYCLE, this post is still relevant if you are interested in changing your mind + body. I'll tell you why in a second. Don't go anywhere. 

2. If you have a crazy friend who is addicted to SOUL CYCLE, and you want to start, apply the concept of what I am saying below with a bit of local research to your area. If you are NYC based, or are visiting NYC & want to try one of my favourite things, great! This post was written for you. 

So in the last 4 months or so, I have become obsessed with SOUL CYCLE. Well, obsessed specifically with SOUL CYCLE instructed by Mantas Zvinas

My SOUL CYCLE obsessed friend, Freya, took me along to a class a few years ago. She SWORE by it, for both whipping your butt into shape, cardio fitness AND mental / life inspiration. When she took me to her favourite instructor, I was unfit and had no idea what I was doing. The 45 minute class couldn't end quick enough. Fast forward a few years and Freya was luring me in again, sneakily with my unwavering love of Taylor Swift. She (Freya, not Taylor Swift) told me about a 'theme ride' happening at a SOUL studio, where the whole ride was to Taylor Swift songs. I went along, (admittedly fitter then I was two years prior) and with a soundtrack I knew off by heart, I finished the class with a crazy sweat & Bad Blood booming though my adrenaline speakers. I decided to give SOUL CYCLE another go and started going to a few classes, booking a bike in the back row so I could, in my own time, get the hang of it all. I committed to doing at least 3 classes a week, quickly seeing my skill level get better and my cardio fitness skyrocket to the best it's ever been. 

I was booking with instructors blindly, and I quickly found out which instructors I liked & which ones weren't for me. I then started talking about my new found love for SOUL CYCLE & my friend Sam said she swears by Mantas. On my next booking, I locked in a bike with Mantas. 

He was definitely the most 'technical' instructor I had ridden with. But what I admired instantly was the integrity he brought to the class. It wasn't enough to just show up & get through the class; he pushed you to hone your technique, to show up & challenge yourself, and to not make changes but to create new habits. 

His commentary throughout the class is honest, empowering & inspiring. It is often based around perspective, focus & pushing yourself, (three things which I am grateful to be reminded of & learn about whenever possible). The class is 45 minutes of self investment - both mentally & physically, it's really fucking hard. There are no free passes with him and showing up is just not enough. Physically, my body has changed from my investment in riding. But the things I have learnt about myself, the things I have become aware of about myself, and the new habits I have formed from Mantas' class? That's where I feel the most accomplished. I now ride with Mantas 6 times a week, and refer to the classes as The Church of Mantas

So how is this relevant to you if you don't have access to a SOUL CYCLE, let alone a Mantas? Great question. It is relevant as I didn't think I liked it on my first try over two years ago. I was so quick to actually HATE it. Now, it is such a foundation for how I go about my day & work on my inner thoughts & intentions. I encourage you to find something you like.... If you are embarking on a new journey of health & wellbeing (like the one I did only a few months ago), it is probably going to be really tough in teh beginning, and especially if you are doing it alone. Finding a group class that you LOVE is a huge motivator in your commitment to the journey. 

Here is what I learnt from this part of my journey: 

> If you are looking at cardio based classes, do yourself the favour of knowing it is going to be really hard when you start out. Possibly look at doing a few little runs (or at the very least, power walks) to get your body used to getting your heart rate up. 

> Ask your friends what exercise they are doing that they love, and go to some classes with them. It is always less intimidating to go with someone who has been before. They can show you where the lockers are, what the exercise etiquette is etc etc. 

> Music - I am so driven by music when working out, so maybe find somewhere that plays the type of music you like. (You might find a studio/type of exercise you like, then find a class within that with your own music style.)

> Find your Mantas! If you are choosing to do instructor-based exercise, (which I highly recommend at the start) you will want to give up, but they won't let you. Keep looking if your instructor's vibe is not for you, and ask around re: other instructors. Don't start with someone who is a more advanced instructor, as they will most often be harder.

If you do live in NYC, or are simply visiting & want to try my SOUL CYCLE experience, remember that you may not like what I look for in this fitness journey. The good news is there is definitely something for every taste, you just have to find it! My recommendations on how to get the experience I get from SOUL CYCLE in NYC are:

>THEME RIDES: Sign up for the SOUL CYCLE Newsletter, and every Monday they will email you with where the theme rides are happening. Get involved in my favorite rides; Beyonce v Jay Z, Taylor Swift, or Taylor Swift v Katy Perry. 

These rides are much more based on the music & are not as technical. You get to learn the moves at your own pace, while still getting a work out to your fave music. 

> INSTRUCTORS: The instructors I take or recommend my new rider friends to are ARIEL (specifically on Hip Hop Fridays), HAYES (he is so lovely & his accent makes you feel like you're in the deep South, y'all!), JOYCE (great music & energy!), DREW B (Drew is high energy, and his class will leave you breathless. Drew is so much fun!)

MANTAS - Obviously! My recommendation to my friends is to try to do 4 classes with other instructors before doing Mantas' class. My only reason for this is that Mantas' class is high intensity with no breaks, and the bike choreography is much more fun when you KNOW what you are doing. His classes are not easy, but they are so rewarding & most importantly, FUN! Hopefully I'll see you in class! - SWx