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Pascale's Dream-Filled Journey to the Podium

his summer, SoulCycle is traveling across the country and Canada for our Instructor Audition Tour. In honor of the tour, which continues this week in New York City and Toronto, we're celebrating our instructors and the personal journeys that led them to the podium. Next up, Toronto's PASCALE YENSEN.

I’ve been in love with New York City for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be a professional dancer living in the greatest city in the world for over 10 years. A back injury took that dream out from under me, but the city was still possible. I was a 27, had a BFA in dance and had been teaching spinning at a studio in Montreal for about a year when I finally looked up this “SoulCycle” I had heard so much about. I started doing my research, talking to people about SOUL, and was instantly intrigued.

When I came across a notice for auditions for instructor training in New York, my heart did about 17 backflips all at once. I could not sit still. Could I my dream city actually be attainable?

I wrote a cover letter explaining why they should pick me to audition. It took me a few days to write, before having a few friends read over it. I sent it in with my C.V. and impatiently waited for an answer. I started training immediately: riding three times a day, cross-training, eating clean, and cutting out alcohol. It was for New York — nothing was going to stop me. I kept thinking to myself, “I just have to get to the audition. If I get past all the steps to the audition, I know I can make it.”

I got an answer a few days later: New York City auditions were full, but there was room in the Toronto auditions taking place in three weeks. Three weeks! I thought to myself, "OK, I got this." I set up a trip to NYC to take as many SoulCycle classes as I could. A friend drove me down for two nights and I had one full day in the city. I took a Survivor and three SoulCycle classes in one day, trying to absorb as much of SOUL as I could. With weak legs, I headed back to Montreal to keep training.

Three weeks later, I flew into Toronto for less than 24 hours to take a master class with MARVIN and audition before the talent team. Of course I was nervous, but strangely enough, I felt an unexpected amount of confidence and excitement. In a dance audition, so many things can go wrong and my nerves are usually through the roof. With this, I felt like I was ready to kick ass.

I got to the class and was told they didn’t have shoes for us, which meant I would be riding in my running shoes and cages. Not the best news, but still, I knew I had this. I loved the class taught before the audition — an ear-to-ear smile was planted on my face the entire time. We were then given numbers for the auditions. We had to go up one at a time and teach about 30 seconds of two different songs. I chose a fast jog and a stead flat. I offered to go first and when they put the mic on me, the nerves started to sink in. “Shake it off. Go kick ass,” I told myself. I got up, gave my blurb about who I am, and then they hit me with the one question I was worried about: “Do you have a visa to work in the US?” I just kept thinking "Get past the audition and work the rest out.” So I answered, “No I don’t, but I have a passport and determination."

Then I got up and did my best. My first song was met with, “OK, thanks. Next.” before I was finished, but I didn’t let it get to me. I was proud of myself.

I stayed for the other 25-30 people who went after me and then walked out feeling like I couldn't possibly wait another minute for their answer. The audition was on a Saturday and they said they would let us know within 10 days.

Monday morning at 11:30am, I got an email from SoulCycle. I passed the audition and they wanted to have a Skype interview with me. I stood up and screamed, home alone in my new one-bedroom apartment. Over and over I kept repeating “Oh my god, oh my god!” I didn’t know who to call first. That Thursday, I had the interview and it went well. I was more excited than I had been about anything in forever. I couldn't believe I might be moving to New York City in under a month.

I checked my email about three times a minute for the next eight days. The following Friday, I was sitting in a clown workshop when I noticed a missed call on my phone from a far-away number. I checked my voicemail: It was from SoulCycle. I waited until my lunch break to call the number, and was told, “We would like to have you join us for training in New York starting September 16th.”

I screamed at the top of my lungs. I was in complete shock. I can’t describe the emotions I felt, but I can tell you that I scared everyone anywhere near me. I jumped up and down, high-fived people on the street, and started calling friends and my family. It was surreal. I DID IT! I did this. It was going to live in New York. I didn’t believe the words coming out of my own mouth. That was a really good day.

As I wasn’t used to the SOUL way of riding, training was very hard for me. I also caught a cold on my train ride down, and was sick for the first week. When I got feedback on my training, I was told that I had great presence and coaching skills, and was a natural, but my ride needed a lot of work. It took about a month before I felt like I actually crushed a class. I rode as much as I could, pushing myself trying to figure out how to get my ride on-point. In a group of 39, I felt like the weakest link. It was tough, and while I was loving New York, I was very aware of the make-or-break situation I was in.

I don’t know if I’ve ever cried so much in 10 weeks. Emotions pouring out, exhaustion setting in, and the mental strain of having just uprooted my life in Montreal to move to NYC with a possible return to Toronto ahead. It was hard work, but I did it. I made it past my three community rides and I got my ride down. After 10 weeks, I was finally put on the schedule as a sub, teaching my first class at TRIBECA's Studio B at 6:00am in late December. There were about seven people in that class, three of whom were my friends who came for the first time to support me. I was a SoulCycle instructor.

I stayed through Christmas and New Year's to teach, before moving to Toronto in February to open the first international studio, KING. I now teach at least 10 classes a week and I am getting settled in my new city and my new life.

It’s crazy to have a job that requires you to give so much of yourself. It’s insane how teaching a class on a day when you aren’t feeling your best emotionally can lift you up. The people on that bike give you so much of themselves; it’s a constant exchange of energy. I’m still learning every single time I teach and every time I ride. I can’t wait to go back to New York and take class once again. It’s been a crazy ride and I know it’s not over. No matter what happens, I got myself to New York. I made that happen. No one can take that away from me.

Learn more about SoulCycle's 2017 Summer Audition Tour HERE. Time to book some classes? Purchase a series HERE.

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