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SOUL INSPIRATION

How the Pack Motivated Kim Diamond to Beat Breast Cancer

hen single mom and rockstar KIM DIAMOND was diagnosed with breast cancer, she immediately decided that surviving was the only option. With the support of the SOUL community, Kim was able to maintain her strength and successfully win her fight against cancer. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she shares her story…



What first brought you to SoulCycle?
I have always been a fitness enthusiast and someone who loves trying different types of workouts, often as an early adapter (for example, I started doing Pilates in the early 1990s before anyone other than dancers even knew what it was). When the TriBeCa studio opened, I knew SoulCycle was something I wanted to try, but truthfully I didn't think I was going to like it. I had done indoor cycling before and found it tedious. Little did I know that after my first SOUL ride, I would be completely hooked.

So what was it like?
I remember my first ride very clearly. I couldn't keep the pace, I couldn't follow the choreography, I couldn't engage my core properly. I was a mess. Yet, despite how pathetic I felt skill-wise, I knew I had still gotten a great workout and felt totally euphoric mentally.

And what kept you coming back?
I am definitely the kind of person who likes to feel challenged and when I can't do something well, I feel motivated to keep trying until I either have to humbly, albeit reluctantly, accept that I am awful at it OR I get better at it and prove to myself I can do it. After my first class, I was completely frustrated, but everyone told me to be patient because it often takes at least a few classes to get the hang of things. Besides, the class was so much fun, the music was amazing, I was drenched in sweat and the time just flew by.

Tell us about your relationship to breast cancer. When were you first diagnosed?
I was diagnosed in November of 2008. I remember getting the call from Memorial Sloan Kettering telling me that my test results indicated cancer and feeling like my entire world was crashing down. I think it was made worse by the fact that it was the start of the holiday season, a time that, although joyous, is also very stressful under the best circumstances. Instead of shopping for presents and planning to attend holiday celebrations, I was meeting with doctors and scheduling a double mastectomy.

How did that impact you?
I was COMPLETELY devastated and terrified. To be honest, I was also REALLY angry too. I guess I resented the fact that I had spent my whole life trying to be as healthy as possible, eating right, working out, and I ended up getting sick anyway.

That must have been so difficult.
I think EVERYONE is terrified when they hear the "C" word. Cancer?! Me? I couldn't believe it was real. Logically, I was afraid that I might die, but I think the greater sense of terror came from the reminder that there are so many things in life over which we really have no control. My primary thought was that, as much as I was terrified for myself, I was REALLY terrified for my daughter Emma. I am a full-time single mom and Emma was only four years old when I was diagnosed. In retrospect, in some ways it may be better that she was so young when this happened because she didn't fully comprehend what was going on and all of the possible implications.

Did you tell anyone at SOUL?
I was so grateful to have SOUL playing such a pivotal role in my recovery that I have told and continue to tell the people in the SOUL community how important they have been in my life.

Tell about your fight. Is there anything or anyone that you credit with helping you stay strong?
It was amazing, but there were women I didn't even know — friends of friends — who had been through the breast cancer experience before me who reached out without even knowing me to give advice, answer my questions, and act as a sounding board. I didn't really understand why they felt compelled to do that until I was on the other side and found myself doing the same thing for other women who were newly diagnosed.

Where did you find your inspiration?
Definitely from other women who were also fighting breast cancer — I guess it's like a strange sisterhood or something. And of course my family, friends and work colleagues were amazing as well. They set up a schedule and took turns visiting me, cooking meals for my daughter and me, taking me to my doctor's appointments, etc. At the end of the day though, the PRIMARY inspiration to stay strong came from my daughter, Emma. I couldn't even fathom the idea of her having to grow up without me, especially since I am her only parent. Not surviving was NOT an option for me.

How long did it take you to get back on the bike?
Many people don't realize that the reconstruction process after a double mastectomy can involve multiple surgeries and surgical revisions over a fairly long period of time. Every time I would undergo surgery, I would have roughly a six -week recovery period where I wasn't allowed to do any exercise. As a result, for my first year or two at SOUL I was constantly forced to start and stop riding. It was so frustrating to me, because after every break, I would feel as if I was riding for the first time all over again.

How has SOUL impacted you overall?
SoulCycle has become an integral part of my life. It's so rare — especially living in New York City — to have time and space that is TRULY yours, where you can completely disconnect and refocus and recalibrate. I know it sounds corny, but SOUL is my sanctuary and my happy place. Even on days when I am DREADING getting on the bike because I am tired or feeling lazy, I LOVE being there and know that I am going to walk out feeling infinitely better than I did when I walked in.

Amazing.
I am such an avid SoulCycle fan that I have been known to expose everyone I know to it. I have brought family, friends, co-workers, summer interns, clients and neighbors to ride with me. I have even started organizing private group rides for the people at work on a quarterly basis (of course, there's the vanity component as well). I just turned 50 this past Valentine's Day, and I am in better shape now than perhaps I have ever been in my life. Plus my daughter, who is now on the cusp of teen-hood, actually thinks I am super cool because I know all of the popular music before it becomes more widely known.

Do you have any favorite rides or anecdotes at SOUL?
Definitely, although there are so many that it's difficult to narrow it down. I really love doing the longer 90 minute rides, or the 100 minute ride I did once with Charlee Atkins. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment after one of those and, at age 50, get a real kick out of being able to keep up with all the young people in class. My competitive side also loves the challenges SOUL does sometimes, like the one where I got a free special edition sweatshirt for completing 20 rides in 30 days or a free class for completing a line on a TIC-TAC-SOUL card.

I think my favorite ride so far, though, is the one I brought my daughter Emma for her first ride. It was amazing to share the experience with her (plus, Emma loved it that Laurie Cole kept giving her shout-outs and referring to her as her prodigy). After class, everyone was coming up to Emma to congratulate her and give her high-fives. She and I were both glowing with pride.

Anything you want to add?
Yes, for sure. For all the ladies out there, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE be diligent about monthly self-exams and going for your annual mammograms. Early detection is SO important when it comes to odds of survival.

When I was diagnosed, I felt fine and nothing about me would have indicated I was at risk of getting breast cancer. I wasn't overweight, I exercised regularly and ate healthy food, I had no family history of breast cancer and I didn't smoke. In fact, my cancer didn't even show up as a lump or mass; it was merely a cluster of calcifications seen on the images from my routine mammogram, which are indicative of cancer ONLY 15 percent of the time.

Thankfully, the radiologist told me to have further testing and I went straight to Memorial Sloan Kettering. The stark reality is that if I hadn't been diagnosed so early, I might not be here today.

SoulCycle is honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month all October long. Do you have a story to share? Email SOULlife@soul-cycle.com, and check out our guide to breast self-examination HERE! Want to ride? Grab a series HERE and book a bike!
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