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Sydney’s Bring-a-Friend Challenge for March

emember your New Year's resolution? Yes? No? Fear not: Senior Instructor SYDNEY MILLER is sharing simple, healthy and habit-forming challenges every month of 2017. Each one is designed to help you reach long-term goals through mini-routines. Here’s what she’s got on tap for March…

Your challenge this March? Turn your workout into a date (well, sort of…) Instructor SYDNEY MILLER and registered dietitian and Nutrition Director at Good Housekeeping, JACKIE LONDON share their (science-backed!) savvy on why making a plan to workout with a buddy can help take your Soul-game to the next level. This month’s goal: Make a point to bring a friend, buddy, significant other, coworker, date, etc. to class with you (once a week, for regular riders!). We talked to them about why having a workout date should be the new “let’s get drinks.”

Tell us about the March challenge: How does taking a friend to SOUL help you stick with your workout routine?
Research has shown that people who stay accountable to someone or something (i.e. a schedule, an instructor you love, a friend you love catching up with after class) are much more likely to stay on track and make long-term changes that stick — because that someone’s always there to keep them on track. In fact, studies have shown that simply the act of writing things down (what you’re eating, your weekly class schedule) can help you create a habit because you’ve literally put it out into the world as an announcement.

OK, so we’ve heard you say that going to class is the new “let’s grab drinks.” Explain, please!
More and more we’re seeing friends and colleagues using the time they’ve set aside to network or catch up with friends as an opportunity to multi-task: Instead of going to get drinks, treating someone to a workout or catching-up with a friend over class + dinner is a fun, interactive way to do something that’s good for you (yes, mind body and soul!) and maximizes your time — and that’s one thing we know is precious these days!

Love. Where do we start?
No one needs a press conference (much less a Facebook status update) for your entire workout routine/lifting schedule/kale-crunching. But at the same time, if no one knows you’re on a mission to tackle a healthier habit this year, how can you realistically expect to stick with it, right? Yes, self-motivation is awesome… but when you’re committed to turning an occasional choice into a regular, healthier habit for the long-term, kicking your own butt can only get you so far.

Hmmm. Sounds a little counterintuitive to count on an outside source to help you do something for yourself…
Here’s the deal: Creating new habits of any kind are hard (would you really want to do it if it were easy!?) but they’re always 100% worth it. But taking on a new challenge — especially when it’s something that’s just for you — is so much less anxiety-provoking when you establish a support system ahead of time.

Right. So explain how BYO Workout Buddy helps you stay focused.
If no one knows you’re on a mission to make your health a priority, then there’s no “contingency plan” when you’re simply feeling tired, unmotivated or just plain ole’ feeling like giving up like we all do once in awhile (hey, it’s normal!!) That’s why creating your own safety net is key to sticking to a successful, worthwhile, mental-and-physical-muscle-building plan, which ultimately becomes a habit. You don’t always have to grin and bear it when it comes to prioritizing your health — sometimes, it’s okay to rely on an external commitment, source of energy or plain ole’ schedule to get it done right now and feel great about it later.

What happens if you and your buddy are both feeling the mutual winter/workout blahs?
First, get rid of the negative talk surrounding any new health or fitness goal (you know what we mean: “Ugh, I have to wake up early to work out so I can’t go to drinks,” or “I’m never going to be good at this so I might as well go home and snack on the couch,” “Why are we doing this instead of grabbing a bottle… er, glass, of wine,” etc. etc. etc.)

That does sound tempting, though…
It does — and there’s definitely a time and place for it! But when it comes to health and wellness, ultimately the only way that you’re really going to be excited about it is if you enjoy it, right?! Somehow, conventional wisdom about health has always used this negative tone of referring to discipline instead of enjoyment. And honestly, that’s no way to form a habit… much less, live your life! Frankly, if any diet or exercise plan seems like torture to you, it probably will be torture — so even if you were to make a change initially, life will get in the way (eventually, if not sooner!). Focus on the positive by changing the language you use about your new health goals. Stop talking about what you think you should “restrict” or “cut” or “eliminate“ from the foods you eat to the fun-policing workout schedule you’ve made up for yourself.

Examples, please.
Use language that refers to your #gains. Some ideas: “I’m seeing Syd tomorrow morning and I can’t wait to hear about her date last week,” or “I’m meeting Jackie for class and then we’re going to dinner.” Keeping the focus on all of the things you enjoy — both in class and out of it — help you hack the mindset you need to get long-term results.

Stay positive. Got it!
Stay positive, set a date, keep it simple, and stick to the plan… game over! And it works for just about any new goal you’ve set for yourself. For example, if you’re trying to learn how to cook, you wouldn’t start by making a fancy French culinary-style coq au vin! Stick to the small steps you need to take in order to simply help you show up. If you start by thinking you’re going to just grin-and-bear-it, you’re ultimately setting yourself up for failure because you a.) have zapped the joy out of it and b.) are priming yourself for feeling overwhelmed — and ultimately throwing in the towel (ain’t nobody got time for that, you know?!)

We hear that!
Our mantra: Start small and keep it simple. By bringing a friend, you’re more likely to keep the “date,” which helps you ensure you’ve got some tools in your back pocket to make a long-term goal a more attainable, realistic lifestyle.

Catch classes with SYDNEY at 19th Street, Bryant Park and Union Square. Want to ride? Click HERE to grab a series and book a bike!

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