KELLEN TOWNSEND knew he wanted to be a SoulCycle instructor from the moment he took his first ride. He shares how he went after his goal and the four traits that lead him to the podium…
You never forget your first time. Mine was Monday, March 18, 2013 in Santa Monica. I was both excited and nervous. I can’t tell you a single song that was played or a single move we did on the bike, but I walked out of SoulCycle SAMO knowing that I had found my dream job.
Unfortunately for me, I was catching a flight back home to Kansas City about three hours later and had no clue how I was going to make this dream of mine happen. I immediately immersed myself in SOUL’s website and social media accounts with the hope that one day, I would be in the same city as SOUL.
Fast-forward to August of 2014, when I moved to Chicago for a change of pace and the bright lights of a big city. A BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) of mine was to become a group fitness instructor, but until SoulCycle, I hadn’t fully connected with a workout in the same way.
I’m a firm believer that a closed mouth doesn’t get fed -- especially when it comes to getting exactly what you want out of life. I shared my goal of becoming a SOUL instructor with anyone who would listen.
My persistence paid off. By November, I shared my goal with the right person and received an invite to audition to be a SoulCycle instructor in Chicago. The LOOP studio was set to open in Spring of 2015.
Tryouts were held on December 5, 2014 at the cycling studio at Equinox Lincoln Park. I walked in feeling like I was auditioning for the role of a lifetime. Roughly six weeks later, I was on a flight to New York City for training. I was scared shitless, but eager for the challenge.
So, how in the hell did I nail my audition?
Here are the four traits that took me from the pack to the podium:
1. Confidence. I was scared out of my mind during auditions -- shaking, in fact -- but knew that this was what I was meant to do. I grew up dabbling in dance classes and ran competitively for 13 years, so for me, instructing a rhythm-driven cycling class was the best of both worlds. I had just completed a sprint triathlon and was in search of my next physical challenge.
2. Practice. Every big decision I made between my first ride at SOUL and tryouts was based on my goal of becoming an instructor. I practiced being comfortable in front of crowds by announcing at local races. I worked out privately in a garage with a close friend who was a local cycling instructor to get comfortable on a bike.
3. Trust. I let the fear of the unknown drive me and trusted that it would all be an adventure. I had never visited New York City before moving there for SOUL’s eight-week instructor training program, but I found excitement in the possibilities of what could happen. Everything down to the details of finding the perfect subletter for my apartment in Chicago to landing the perfect room to rent in Brooklyn during training worked out in my favor. I learned that when the universe gives you cues to make a turn, you make that turn -- SHARPLY!
4. Vulnerability. During the first week of training, I quickly felt like I did not belong. I had the least amount of experience with SoulCycle and had the most work to do. I remember actually standing in front of the group and sharing how I was feeling and immediately, that impulse to compare myself to others faded in the face of the support of my fellow instructors.
I've been teaching in Chicago for over a year now, and I apply these four principles to my daily life in order to maintain and expand my goals, both personally and professionally.
The journey to today was definitely not an easy one, but SoulCycle has taught me that limits exist only if I allow them to and that no goal is unattainable if you’re willing to do the work to achieve it.