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Army of Love: Isaac Calpito

Love is powerful. Together we can be a voice of unity, support and acceptance in and out of the studio. This month SoulCycle instructors are sharing their Army of Love stories, up first is New York City instructor ISAAC CALPITO.

I was extremely fortunate to have grown up in a community in Hawaii that was really accepting. My grandmother was very religious, but her best friends were gay and transgendered. While I always felt supported at home, I went to a Catholic school, and it was a different ballgame there. I experienced what comes along with being considered a different child, doing paddle turns and hitch kicks to Madonna songs in the hallways. And I learned very early on that being true to yourself, and loving yourself first, is the best protection.

My mom put me in every sport imaginable, baseball, soccer, football, but I would be the kid on the field, not paying attention to the game, singing Madonna songs. Eventually she decided to try a little less baseball and a little more ballet — and at 11 years old, at the theater, I found my first army of love.

As soon as school was over I rushed to the studio. That’s where I was fully able to be myself and not be judged. I made companions there that I still consider some of my closest friends, even after I moved to New York City to dance on Broadway.

That magic of acceptance and community is what happens in the SoulCycle studio. You’re in a dark room with like-minded people, all sweating it out together. No one is judging each other and no one is competing. It’s an opportunity for everyone to just be...and feel.

Even before I was a teacher I was working out many things in that sweaty SoulCycle room and I think it’s a beautiful opportunity. Now, as an instructor, I use music as the thread of what I’m feeling. I’m obsessive about making the playlist a cathartic journey that’s relevant at the moment for my riders.

While there are a lot of crazy things happening not only in the landscape of our country but the world, I truly believe that no person is alone. We need to look out for one another and we need to speak loudly for those who can’t. Finding your tight-knit group of people who support and love you will help you get through whatever comes your way. And if you take each step with love, compassion, and authenticity, everything else will follow.

- As told to Bari Lieberman

Photography by Sarah Kehoe
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