[This is going to be one of those long ones.] Last year I was at my highest weight to date, with a BMI of 37.3, and the beginnings of all of the health issues - borderline high blood pressure, knee/foot/joint pain, etc. - that come with it. Something finally clicked, though, and I started a serious effort to become healthier. I'd lost the first 30 pounds, and joined a gym, and was looking for other physical activities to try, when I agreed to try 'just one' SoulCycle class with a friend who was really into it. But only if it was with an instructor who wasn't a screamer. And only if I could sit in the back. (Yes, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what this was going to be like.)
So in December 2011, having never taken any kind of spin class before, with a barely above sedentary physical activity level, and my friend's promise that Lori is an awesome instructor for newbies, I walked into SoulCycle, into Lori's class, for the first time. And it was amazing! Oh, don't get me wrong, I was a mess and had almost no clue what I was doing. But, I immediately loved everything about it. I loved Lori's instructing- perfect mix of pointing out where newbies can adjust if needed, clear enough instructions that even as a first-timer there was no point where I was ever really 'lost' from one transition to the next. I loved her music, I loved the dimness of the room. I loved the speed and the pace of the class itself. I loved the people sitting next to me who made a newbie feel so welcomed - the woman on my left who leaned over to tell me there were only two songs left, and encourage me that I was doing great and almost there? I will always remember that, and I firmly believe that bit of kindness is a reflection of the atmosphere that Lori creates in her classes. I had so much fun, and I felt like I got in a great workout, and once my quads stopped screaming the following week I was looking forward to signing up to do it all over again - a spark had been lit.
I even decided that I was going to be 'brave' for that second class, and sit in the second row. And then the bike in front of me was empty, and Lori said "this is such a warm room to try riding front row..." And I absolutely thought she was kidding. She knew it was only my second class ever, there's no way she actually meant...oh. I guess she did. And so I did. I know instructors like having the front row filled; to this day have no idea why I said yes, though. Apparently I'd already decided to just absolutely trust in Lori, so that if Lori Abeles suggests you move up to the front row, well, that's how you find yourself going from figuring out the best place to 'hide' during your first class to riding in the front row for your second class.
I ended up taking my first 13 SoulCycle classes with Lori, including my first double, before trying out other instructors. And that 14th class was to try SoulBands, because that is the kind of confidence that riding with Lori had instilled in me. First class, 10th class, 50th class...the first time she turned up my resistance on me; the first time she looked over at me and I knew that meant turn up my own resistance...the first time I realized I was listening to the 'my more experienced riders' part of her instruction...being the instructor for both classes of my first double; for one of the classes of my first triple...every class with Lori is a lesson in pushing yourself further, in learning you are capable of so much more than you ever thought possible. To date I've taken 40% of my SoulCycle classes with Lori; I'm now at SoulCycle 3-5 times/week, and I have at least one Lori class on my schedule every week. Oh, yeah - and at some point in there I quit the gym; it was starting to bore me.
Fast forward to June 2012. My BMI is now down to 26.3 (I've lost 40 pounds since my first SoulCycle class), my blood pressure has dropped from borderline high to 'perfect,' my knee/joint pain are gone, etc. - this is the new physical shape that I was in this month when I celebrated my birthday at SoulCycle, in Lori's class, where I rode the instructor bike for four songs. I might have cried a little.
I am now the friend who is really into SoulCycle, bringing in the newbies to try it out. I have brought every one to Lori's class first, and they have all, without fail, returned for more SoulCycle. She is an awesome instructor for newbies, and for more experienced riders, thanks to her great instructions, intense workout, fun playlists, and her continued lesson that amazing things will happen just outside of your comfort zone.