'I rode until the day I went into labor’: CHELSEY WARD’S SOUL Story
May 5, 2016
My SOUL story began like so many things do in New York City… by moving! My then-fiancée and I bought an apartment in TriBeCa and relocated downtown from our rental in Chelsea. Eternally active, I had been riding at another indoor cycling studio but I decided to make the SOUL switch simply due to location. Early on, it took some time to get used to the dance-meets-yoga-meets-bike version of cycling that SoulCycle brings to the table. However, the sweaty team spirit vibes got me, and soon I found myself on a bike almost daily. There is nothing like the adrenaline you feel after pushing yourself past all of your (perceived) physical limitations.
Within months of living in TriBeCa (and getting married!), I got pregnant. At first, I continued riding at SOUL to prove to myself that I could, and then as the pregnancy progressed it became less about the physical and more about my mental state. When I completed a class, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it was, I felt instantly calmer.
Two months before my due date, I flew to a friend’s wedding and got a debilitating case of sciatica. I could barely walk for days. After the worst of the pain wore away, I went back to SoulCycle. Even though walking was still tough, cycling was almost therapeutic. It was easy on the joints, didn’t provoke my back and I could sit through the class rather than stand on the bike. It truly got me through the issue, and within six weeks I was close to pain-free. I was able to ride right up until the day I went into labor, and I’m confident it helped with my level of focus and strength during delivery.
Three weeks later, with the doctor’s all clear, I was back on the bike. The first few classes were not easy, but I stuck with it. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and supportive, and I was able to get back to my fighting weight in a relatively quick amount of time. The most important thing for me to remember was to go slow, let go of expectations and build on my physical strength one class at a time.
Cut to 20 months later and I was pregnant again, this time with twins! I was convinced that I would not be able to work out like I did with my first pregnancy, and I was right. It definitely wasn’t as easy the second time around (especially with a toddler!). After laying low for my first trimester, I started back at SOUL. In the early days of the second trimester I was still pretty sick, but as time progressed I was able to push a little bit more during class, which felt amazing. Understandably, I made more modifications on the bike to accommodate my shrinking skillset and (rapidly) expanding belly: setting the seat back farther than usual, lowering the handlebars and putting a pad on the seat. I also leaned farther forward when standing and made sure that I was always near a fan. These small changes made a world of difference, and I soldiered on until the day before my scheduled delivery.
Many people have asked how I continued to exercise throughout my pregnancy carrying twins. My answer for that is, “how could I get through a physical challenge like that without exercise?!” Scheduled SOUL classes were often the only thing keeping me from succumbing to the exhaustion of pregnancy. Consistently working out gave me renewed energy, a positive outlook and emotional encouragement for the sleepless nights and frequent doctor’s visits that come along with having twin babies.
I was back at SoulCycle five weeks after delivery (doctor’s orders), and I found everyone to be as wonderful and welcoming as ever. I was greeted with hugs from the front desk staff, instructors gave me shout-outs in class and fellow riders congratulated me on my new family. I was grateful for the support and found it bolstered my determination to get back to feeling good in my body after giving birth. It was great to have a community to come back to that was all my own.
WATCH: Happy Mother’s Day From SoulCycle
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