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Soul Story: Jennifer

"If it wasn't for TurnItUp20, I am not sure I would be back on the right path," says Bay Area rockstar JENNIFER, who shed six pounds, gained muscle and cured her insomnia while completing the challenge in Palo Alto. She shares her Soul Story… 

Jennifer (center) with instructors Casey Hirsch (left) and Ginny Lee

My first SoulCycle ride ever was February 3rd, 2015. I am 41 1/2 years old, 20 pounds overweight, and have absolutely no rhythm. I thought SC looked super fun, but I was intimidated because it seemed like only super-fit and/or young people were always walking out! For some reason on that morning I got the nerve up to go (thanks to my friend Jennie for asking — AGAIN). It was life-changing!

Kamelle was my instructor on that first ride and I was hooked. I could not believe how much fun he was having, I was having, the amazing energy in the room, and how hard the workout was. I needed hard. I have been overweight my whole life. I am 5-foot-8 and have weighed as much as 240 pounds. I lost close 70 pounds just changing my diet, but have continued to hang onto these last 20 pounds (give or take 5 pounds) for the last two years.

I dislike exercise. Honestly, besides walking, I had resolved that there really wasn’t any form of exercise out there that was for me.

I was wrong! I needed to be pushed. I needed someone to tell me not to sit down, to keep going, keep fighting, to ride through the pain, to feel my own power, and to tell me if it felt challenge myself and make it hard! What I needed were people to tell me I COULD do it! I needed SC! I came back the next day, and a few more times the next week. It hurt each time (lots of Advil), but the music, the camaraderie, and most of all the instructors, made it all so much fun! I was energized and actually excited to workout! 

When I received the TurnItUp20 email, I laughed out loud. Then I thought about it. Why not? Why couldn't I ride 20 rides in 31 days? I could do this. I COULD DO THIS. I am going to do this!

No sooner did I sign up than I got a call from my physician telling me that a surgery I was having in April was being moved up to March 23rd. Ironically, it was surgery on a collapsed vein in my leg, the result of carrying so much extra weight around for so many years.

I sat looking at my calendar and realized of the 21 days this left in March (the doctor didn't want me to ride the day before surgery) I was traveling six of them. Twenty rides in 15 days? Me? I had every reason to call it a day and bail on the challenge, but I had 20 reasons not to quit. The extra weight I was tired of looking at, and if I was honest with myself I could not even recall the last time I challenged myself physically.

That is when I snapped my "before photo." SC came at a low point on my weight-loss journey. I was slowly putting pounds back on, self-medicating with food, following an accident my daughter was in. Even though she was fine, the fear of what could have been was overwhelming and food is how I cope. When I looked at that photo, I realized what was happening. I saw what I was doing to myself. My body was inflamed from sugar, alcohol, and all the poor food choices I had reverted to. It really was a wake-up call! If it wasn't for the TurnItUp20 challenge, I am not sure I would be back on the right path.

Before SoulCycle… and after! Follow more of Jennifer's journey on Instagram @HappyBodyFood 

I rode every day of March that I was in town and I rode twice on six of those days. I finished my 20 rides on March 20th (in 14 days), and I rode my 21st ride the next day. The best part? I lost 6 pounds. Even better than losing weight, gaining muscle, losing all the puffiness and bloat, feeling great, and falling in love with exercise...I am sleeping again! I have battled insomnia for years, and now I am falling asleep without melatonin, or a sleeping pill. My body is happy all around!

The SoulCycle Staff are AMAZING! Noelle and Nika especially always made me feel welcome and supported, and I never felt stupid asking any of my questions. The days I doubled they encouraged me! The day I forgot my shoes and socks and barely made it the door, they got me on my bike and going!

The instructors are fantastic! Kamelle and Casey were especially supportive and invested in my success. One day, halfway through a ride, Casey said, "Jennifer, you are not just turning it up for 20, you are turning it up for life!" I literally burst into tears, turned up the tension, and kept climbing! 

Kamelle has an energy and excitement that are so contagious, and he has a way of making you feel like he knows your journey. Whenever I thought I wanted to make a run for it, he seemed to sense it, looked me right in the eye, and got me back in the game! 

Ginny helped me a lot with my form early on, which helped me to ride more efficiently, and in a way that I never felt silly or like I was being singled out. All of the instructors — MK, Todd, Samara, Colleen — simply AMAZING! Every ride, even with the same instructor, was different. Every day I left with some new inspiration, motivation, and sense of accomplishment. I have never sweat so much in my entire life and I literally leave SC feeling emotionally and physically lighter. 

I feel like I have a team of personal trainers and inspiring coaches cheering me on, invested in my success! I am typing this note with my leg up in bandages and I am counting the days until the doctor clears me for SoulCycle… next week I hope! I miss it already!

Thank you for an amazing program; wonderful, caring, inspiring, instructors and for reminding me that it is never too late to make fitness a priority!

Do you have a Soul Story to share? Email!
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