MEET THE INSTRUCTOR
How Jera Faced Her Fears and Reached Her Goal
April 30, 2017
or JERA FOSTER-FELL, the dream of becoming a SoulCycle instructor seemed impossible. But she persevered through setbacks and roadblocks before finally reaching the podium. She shares her inspiring journey.
You want something so badly. And you don’t simply just want it, you also work for it. Day and night, every ounce of your being dedicated to reaching your end goal. You’re so close to to it that it’s within your grasp. Right as your hands are just about to clasp it, it slips through your fingers. You’re told “no.” A pressure forms around your heart, a giant knot in your belly. Do you accept defeat, or do you use that “no” as fuel to the fire?
My first SoulCycle class was in 2010 when I was still in college. I was in school out in LA, so I could only take classes here and there when I visited my mom back home in NYC. Though I was studying Fine Art and had never once thought about fitness and health as a career, every time I took a SoulCycle class, I always had a secret longing to become an instructor. Those 45 minutes in that dark room were transformative, and I fantasized about being part of it.
Fast forward to 2015: I had been working as a graphic designer for about four years. I was unhappy and unmotivated. I’ll never forget looking in the mirror one day, parting my hair, and finding a small bald patch on my scalp due to stress. I was working seven days week and was on the brink of exhaustion. And on top of it all, I realized I was suffering from social anxiety. It felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.
After going through a difficult break-up of a long relationship, I moved back home to NYC. It felt like a fresh start. I hit the reset button and decided to incorporate fitness into my life. I went to the gym several times a week, and after a very long hiatus, I started going back to SoulCycle. For the first time in a long time, I felt inspired and motivated. I looked forward to my SoulCycle classes more than anything else. A spark that I hadn’t felt in a long time was reignited.
I remember the exact moment I realized that I didn’t just want to become a SoulCycle instructor, but I realized I needed to become one. It was incredibly exciting — but also terrifying. How could someone with zero fitness background, zero performance background, whose #1 fear was public speaking, possibly become a SoulCycle instructor? It seemed like the odds were against me.
After some crazy twists and turns, two auditions and seven months later after that “a-ha” moment, I found myself entering the SoulCycle instructor training program in May 2016. I couldn’t believe it. Despite hyperventilating and blacking out throughout the auditions and fighting self doubt and fear over the course of those months, I somehow made it to the next step.
The ten weeks of the training program that followed were some of the most intense weeks of my life. It was an absolute rollercoaster with both the highs and the lows. We were pushed to our physical limits, but friendships formed right from the start. We were pushed on an emotional level, but breaking down gave us each the ability to build ourselves back up. I was constantly tired, but also exhilarated. I went to sleep each night with a mix of anticipation and excitement for whatever the next day had in store.
My community rides at the end of the training program were an absolute whirlwind. Not only did I have to put to the test everything we had learned and has practiced, but I had to head on face my fear of public speaking. Hands shaking, heart racing, I remember facing 60 people at NoMad, opening my mouth and starting to speak. And then getting on the bike. And actually teaching an entire class. There really are no words to explain the fear, the thrill, and also the pride, all wrapped up into one big bundled ball of emotion.
But here’s the thing: Just because you really want something with all of your heart, and just because you work incredibly hard for it, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get it, at least on your first attempt.
After I completed the training program, I was hit with the news that I wasn’t ready to become a SoulCycle instructor. The training team asked me to redo the entire program.
It’s a pretty crazy feeling to be told point blank “no.” But it’s also an incredibly powerful and decisive moment. It’s this frozen section of time where the universe is testing you. It’s seeing if you actually truly want this thing that you’ve been wishing for, working so hard toward, and thinking about non-stop. If after all of that, you’re told no, and you give up, the question is… did you even really want it that badly in the first place?
The news hit me hard, and truth be told, I was heartbroken. At first I thought, no way am I going to do this all again! I was mad, hurt and confused. I had to take some time for myself to reflect and let everything sink in. A few weeks went by, the dust settled, and I began to feel the presence of a missing piece. That empty feeling grew, and it was then that I knew that I had to accept the offer to go through training again. As soon as I said yes, not just to SoulCycle, but to myself, there was this rush of adrenaline and purpose that flooded my body.
I started my second round of training in September 2016, and to be totally honest, once I was immersed in it again; I was so thrilled to be doing everything for a second time. My first round of training, I was a deer in the headlights. But this time, I felt so much more grounded and present. In December 2016, a year and a month after that “a ha” moment, I’m super proud to say that I FINALLY DID IT! I became a SoulCycle instructor.
One of my favorite sayings is, “fall down seven times, stand up eight.” Failing, though absolutely painful within the moment, holds so much opportunity for growth and improvement. For me, failing at my first round of training gave me to option to rise up a second time much stronger than before. It gave me the strength to fearlessly pursue my goal. And it gave me the wisdom to no longer worry about failure, but instead what I may miss if I decided not try.
Catch classes with JERA at 19th Street, NOHO, Union Square and Williamsburg. Want to ride? Grab a series HERE and book a bike.