ART + SOUL
From the Stage to the Studio: How Robert Pendilla Juggles Broadway and SoulCycle
May 23, 2016
What first brought you to SOUL?
My fiancé, Brian, first introduced me to SoulCycle on a date at the East Hampton studio.
Describe your first class and how you felt.
My first class was interesting. As a dancer, I was very confident I could handle it. I was wrong. Karyn kicked my butt. Her “hairography,” the intensity and energy she exuded made me want to push to the next level.
What kept you coming back?
The environment! The lights, music, energy and people made it impossible to not return. Plus, I love a challenge. I had to conquer the class without stopping.
What inspired you to become an instructor?
As a performer, I love being onstage. Watching Marvin, Janet or Lily -- or any instructor I ride with -- inspired me to be up on the podium. Not only were they leading the pack, they were choreographing the class, sound-checking it and inspiring it. I always feel the instructor's story in class. And that's what I love — inspiring others and expressing your story.
How did you get into performing? Tell us about your experience discovering the arts.
As a kid, I always had to be the outgoing one. Whether it was on the baseball or volleyball teams or performing in the local choir, I had to be out front and entertaining the masses. Sometimes the masses consisted of just my mom, dad and the dog. My professional career started at age 16, working for Disney. It evolved -- new jobs, gigs overseas and then I ended up on Broadway. I've been on the Broadway boards for the last 10 years.
When did you book “Kinky Boots”? What was that feeling like?
When I received word from my agent that I booked “Kinky Boots,” I was so excited to work with Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Mitchell. These artists are entertainment royalty. The feeling was wonderful. At the time, I was on tour with Wicked and had to let them know I was joining the original Broadway cast of “Kinky Boots.” Everyone was thrilled for me.
How do you manage performing on Broadway full-time and teaching at SOUL?
It is hard to do. The main thing is to be very organized. If you're honest with yourself and everyone involved, it will all work out. Making sure I get enough rest after my evening show is key. But I also can't forget to take time for my family and myself. Balance, balance, balance. One thing my mother taught me as a child was, "If you dont love what you do, don't do it!" I love both teaching SoulCycle and performing every night for thousands. I wake up every morning and pinch myself: I get to inspire today. I get to bring energy to people as well as receive theirs. It is such a beautiful part of my life.
Favorite part of performing?
My favorite part of performing is taking the audience on a journey. Think about it: for two and a half hours, I get to take people out of their reality. It's the same thing with SoulCycle. Whether it's 45 minutes or 90, the rider is stepping away from the outside world and being taken on a journey.
Favorite part about teaching at SOUL?
It's just as exciting to me as stepping on the stage every night.
What is your biggest motivation or inspiration?
The people in my life. That includes the riders, the staff and my fellow performers. Even the person in line for coffee or the homeless person asking for something can inspire me, If you take a moment to look at what is around you, you can find motivation and inspiration in anything. Sometimes you just have to sit on a bench in the park and watch what happens. Don’t get me wrong: Life isn't all roses and sunshine. In my class, I make sure there is something to motivate everyone. You'll have emptied the tank by the end.
How do you destress after being so busy and using your body so much throughout the week?
I love to make sure I check in with myself. I exercise every day, I get massages and I try to get at least seven hours of sleep. Danny Kopel also taught me to make sure I close my laptop after every class. I wait until everyone leaves the room and shut it down. I take a deep breath and and smile knowing I gave it my all.
The Tony’s are coming up. How do you feel about the nominations?
I am so happy with the nominations this year — there are so many talented, well-deserving people and so many great shows. Since the Tony's in 2013, where we won Best Musical for “Kinky Boots,” I look at the awards differently. I am so honored to be a part of Tony history. I can say I performed at the Tony's! It's a dream for any Broadway actor.
Was “Hamilton” nominated for anything? LOL. I am that guy that wakes up early to watch the nominations live. Then I go teach class!
Favorite Broadway tune to rock out to on the bike?
I love to play "Raise You Up/Just Be," which is the “Kinky Boots” finale.
Any mantra that inspires you?
Accept someone for who they are! Also from “Kinky Boots.” In my class there are no judgements, no wrong answers and no quitting. Everyone works at their own pace and follows their journey. I will push you on to the finish line.
Anything else to add?
If it weren’t for the support of the Broadway community, the SoulCycle community and my family, I wouldn't be able to do this. I am so thankful and grateful for everyone in my life. You all inspire me, challenge me and make me happy every day!