Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into indoor cycling?
I was born and raised in South Africa and moved to the United States when I was 21. I was always an athlete growing up, and as a kid, I played every sport you could imagine. Exercising was a big part of my life, but in my twenties, I fell out of the routine of exercising daily and gained a lot of weight. I was extremely unhappy with my appearance and body image and was constantly changing my eating habits, trying out the new diet fads, and I even went so low as to try every diet pill on and off the market. I was depressed, anxious and uncomfortable with what I looked like and mostly with who I was. After a long stint of not eating for days on end, fainting in public on a diving trip, multiple occasions of binging and purging, and weighing my food constantly (even to the gram of nonfat almond milk in my coffee), I decided that I needed to get my life together and make a change for myself. I became certified as a Personal Trainer, enrolled in nutrition and anatomy classes in school, and started to educate myself on what I needed to do to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I started to regain my confidence but still found it difficult to motivate myself every day. I found indoor cycling at a small studio in Massachusetts. They did not ride on beat, but I loved the idea of loud music and a workout that moved my body differently. A few weeks later I registered to get my spin certification because I knew I wanted to dance on a bike. It makes me feel accomplished and happy. Flash forward, I stumbled across a small studio in Rhode Island and proceeded to teach there, while building a strong community of riders I want to spread this new love through cycling to others, and share the joy and peace cycling gives me.
Why SoulCycle? What drew you to the studio, and what do you enjoy most about it?
When I finally heard about SoulCycle, I decided to take a class for my birthday. My first class was amazing and completely changed my life. I took a class in Back Bay, and to say it lit a fire in my soul is an understatement. This was a feeling I had never felt during any workout. From the first song to the end of the class, I felt more alive than I ever had before. I felt like the class was made for me, and allowed me to let go in the way I encourage riders to do in my own classes.
The lights were dark, the music was loud, the class was challenging, and I sobbed on the bike for about 90% of the class. This was the turning point for me. I knew that I wanted to work for SoulCycle and have the opportunity to give back to others what I had just experienced. I was going through a very tough time in my relationship, I was still dealing with my eating issues, I felt broken and like something was missing. Everything felt as if it was falling apart around me—except when I taught on the podium or entered that dark room. Any time I stepped up on that bike I would ride my heart out. I gave it everything I could, and for some reason, my troubles melted away and my head felt clear. I have never felt so strong doing something in my entire life.
I knew I had found what I was searching for in Soul. It opened my eyes to the potential I had as a teacher, to be both a phenomenal instructor and leader. I started practicing every day to improve my skills. I have so much to give to this community and fellow riders. Indoor cycling has helped me share this love and inspiration with a large community. If I can influence even one person to love something as much as I love what I do, and bring happiness to their heart, then I know that I have done what I was born to do. It is truly what I value and believe we need more of in this world today.
Why did you decide to partner with Cycle for Recovery? Why is our cause so meaningful to you?
The idea of cycling for recovery is so beautiful to me. I have experienced anxiety and stress in my life, and have thankfully found support—from family and friends, and especially through riding. While I personally haven’t struggled with addiction or any severe mental health disorders, it is something that hits close to home: I’ve witnessed close friends and family struggle with these issues. Riding for me has helped me through many hard times in my life, and I strongly believe that it can help with addiction and mental health, too. To me, cycling is not only a physical challenge but also an emotional and mental one. We push and challenge ourselves on a bike as hard as we can go, with many internal voices saying to quit or give up. I personally find that if we are able to flip that script in our minds and push through a moment of physical difficulty, we can practice that skill and use it in our everyday life. We walk out that room feeling empowered, stronger and braver than when we arrived, ready to take on any and all challenges the world throws at us.
Lastly, what should people expect from your classes?
Dancing and moving to music is who I am. My soul shines brightest when I teach, and I live for sharing that with other people. When you allow yourself to get lost in the music during a class, to feel whatever surfaces from your heart and to let it go, the workout starts to dissolve. In my class I hope to lead you through a journey and an experience. I will challenge you and push you past the limits you set for yourself, helping you realize how capable you are. My class will push you and strengthen you in all areas: mind, body, and soul. Get ready for something magical.