As cold as it is, or as stressed or tired you are, if you can find the will to cycle for an hour you’ve won for the day. Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice – the founders of SoulCycle – make that possible in big cities all over America. Not only have they created a workout that makes people feel empowered and better about themselves, but they’ve also created a culture where trainers are celebrities, being part of packs is back and yelling like Sharapova for an hour straight is acceptable – even encouraged.
As you potato-heads know, we’re big fans of female duos doing cool things. It’s the reason why we couldn’t help but sit down with these two to chat about healthy diets, workout regimens and how they deal with SoulCycle naysayers…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
Elizabeth Cutler: I start the day with a Solay Superfoods Protein Shake and I grab a Venti Iced Green Tea from Starbucks on my way to the office. Lunch is either at my desk (order in via Westville – greek salad with grilled chicken, no onions) or sushi near the office at EN Japanese Brasserie. My mid-afternoon snack is a run to 16 Handles. Dinner is often out and my favorites are RedFarm, L’Artusi, or ABC Kitchen.
Julie Rice: I start with coffee and a banana in the morning at home. I try to ride in the morning as often as possible. When I get to work, I have a fruit salad or an egg white omelet with a ton of fresh veggies. We are big snackers so I try to have popcorn or carrots and hummus. For lunch it is a salad with protein, usually from Westville. Post afternoon snack is 16 Handles – lots of toppings, on the side (chocolate sprinkles). Dream dinner is at Milos with my family.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
Elizabeth: It is all about balance. I try to be careful with what I put in and on my body but I still love frozen yogurt and chocolate in moderation.
How do you always start your day?
Julie: We both have two girls so the mornings are pretty crazy getting everyone ready for school. I always try and start the day at SoulCycle! We are users and love to ride as much as possible. We like to go to different studios everyday so we can get to know all our riders. My home studio is West 77th Street.
What were your workouts before SoulCycle?
Elizabeth: I needed to lose a lot of weight after my second daughter and yoga was not doing it. A girlfriend of mine told me I had to do cardio if I wanted to lose weight so I started spinning at my local gym. I enjoyed it but I knew it could be so much more than just a workout.
Julie: I had just moved from L.A. where I used to exercise outdoors a lot. I used to hike with a group of friends – it was about being active as a community not just checking the “exercise box” on my to do list. That mentality helped inspire us when we created SoulCycle. We always intended for it to be about forging communities and relationships, not just exercising.
How many times a week should one do SoulCycle and what should they pair it with?
Julie: It depends on the individual and the results they’re looking for, but you are going to see and feel a difference in your body if you attend 2-3 classes a week.
Elizabeth: For me, I find silence in the movement – it is really moving mediation. I try and ride three to four days a week and supplement SoulCycle with yoga.
What’s your quintessential workout song right now?
Julie: 7/11 by Beyonce is definitely a favorite in the studios right now.
When it comes to fitness, is ambiance as important as the workout itself? How so?
Elizabeth: Definitely! Its all part of the experience. Whether you walk into SoulCycle in NYC, L.A., or DC, its going to feel the same. Our lobby and locker areas are bright, clean, and uncluttered – the opposite of a traditional gym experience. Then you walk into the candle lit studio, with music pumping, and there is a feeling of zen that washes over you. It’s easy to zone out in those four walls – it’s the only forty-five minutes you’re probably going to get to yourself that day. The ambiance enables us to let go.
What’s your advice to those trying to make their workout a ‘brand’?
Elizabeth: We always knew SoulCycle would be more than a workout. We wanted to create an experience that started the moment you walked in the door and stayed with you throughout your day.
How big of a part does fashion play in your brand?
Julie: At SoulCycle, fashion is about feeling sexy and empowered when you workout. We believe that when you look good, you feel good.
What foods are best and worst for your skin?
Elizabeth: Salmon is full of omega fatty acids which are great for your skin (and salmon is very satisfying). I also drink water constantly, all day. Keeping hydrated is very important for the health of your skin.
What do you find to be an overrated health food?
Julie: Juices. I would rather eat a piece of fruit than drink it!
A go to healthy recipe in three steps…
Julie: Open popcorn, put in the microwave, eat.
What won’t you travel without?
Julie: An iPad, Bose headphones, InStyle, water and M&Ms.
Your words to SoulCycle naysayers…
Julie: We are focused on giving every rider at SoulCycle the best experience we can every single ride, and bringing soul to more people.
SoulCycle is about the pack; would you ever offer private lessons? Why or why not?
Elizabeth: You’re right, it is about the pack, and being in rhythm with the riders next to you. We offer private classes, which have become a very popular way for riders to celebrate their birthdays and company holiday parties with smaller and larger groups of friends or co-workers.
Julie: One on one sessions work well for anyone who wants to go over basic bike set up and choreography before heading to a regular class. We launched a SOUL101 series, for this purpose too, which is an introductory series, team taught by multiple SoulCycle instructors at once. These classes have less riders than a regular class, and are designed to introduce new riders to the bike, positions, and signature SoulCycle choreography.
Words to workout by:
Elizabeth: Free your mind of expectation and set an intention for every ride.
Advice to those struggling to break patterns…
Julie: Set an intention for the day–big or small–and look at everyday as a new opportunity to make the change you want to see in yourself.
What cities do you love for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
Both: The fruits and vegetables are SO fresh on the West Coast – one of our favorites is Malibu Farm – the food is well seasoned and incredibly clean. In Miami, The Dutch or Bianca. In DC we love Kapnos. In Boston, Toro and in San Francisco, Foreign Cinema.
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in food right now?
Elizabeth: Charcoal is cropping up on every healthy food menu, and there has been a ton of press about the new black “it” ingredient.
*Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, photographed at SoulCycle in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.