S O E U R A Y A W I L S O N

Sweat glitter. Ride harder. Mermaid Bred. Faerie Born. SOUL CYCLE Instructor- yet magic duster. You may have heard of #glitterbootynation spilling through her instagram page and rockstar photos. Who is this mystical creature? Well, we are about to spread her magic like butter, almond butter! 

Photograph by CrzyPnda

Never even meeting Soeuraya- I could already feel her heat all the way from Miami. That is the cool thing about the power of social media. It can bring people who are out there changing the flow of the world- and bring them to light. Which is exactly what our ForceField mission is. Diving into souls, revealing their wild stories, visions, and this unnatural fire in their hearts to make the world a better place.  WE want to know about them. ALL of them. Which is exactly what happened when I stumbled across her feed. It is pretty alarming how beautiful inside and out she is.

HOMEGROWN

I was born in AZ, but moved to NYC when I was ten. All my favorite years were spent in the city.

CALL ME, BABY.

My family calls me RayRay or Raya. My instagram name is also a common tag for me (laughs out loud). One of my close mentors calls me raw baby and that just kind of stuck.

LIFE BEFORE THE BIKE

I was convinced that I was going to be an actress. Damned anyone that told me otherwise. I usually had 2-3 jobs at a time and was super active in nightlife. I was blessed then and still blessed now being able to be surrounded by some of the most creative beings. We were always creating, dancing, and just playing. I also traveled quite a bit around the US. I have been cross country twice. One of my favorite memories from traveling is just walking, bussing, and driving up the coast of US-1 in Cali with my best friends, Zeus and Kim. 

PLANTING THE SEED

I was kind of all over place. I had been actively auditioning for commercials and tv shows, while bartending at two different places. I had also moved up to the Bear Mountain park area to be with my then boyfriend. I was commuting several times a week and remember being pretty miserable over all. Everything I was doing, even the auditions at times had become something to fulfill someone elses prophecy for my life. Enter SoulCycle. My agent at the time and now Chief Talent Officer at SoulCycle, Halle Madia, had just started working for Julie and Elizabeth. I had vaguely heard of the studios but never had any interest in sweating, crying, or vomiting in public places. When Halle started working for them, I never heard the end of it. She called me multiple times encouraging me to try it out- promising that it would be so worth it. I will never forget that Tuesday morning. 10:30am. NoHo. Marvin Foster Jr. I remember having so much emotion thinking that I had finally found it. He was dancing and performing. But it was who he was, nothing forced, or placed upon him. He was INSPIRING people. Lifting people up while bringing them together. Goals that I had hoped to accomplish through my dancing/acting but had not quite figured out how to do so. The rest is history. I started to prepare for training. Once training came to an end, I never looked back. Now having this job for two and a half years, I can say that my reason did not come until later on when I moved to Miami. My own person WHY I discovered is that -we all have the power to save ourselves. To be that strongest decision I ever made. 

Photograph by CrzyPnda

WAKE UP CALL

I am an avid intention setter. My morning consists of snuggles with my pups, an espresso, all while having a sit down with my tarot deck and animal cards. It is not about magic, or anything weird. Just about seeing what you want from the day and allowing whatever cards you pull to be the wisdom or words that you walk with through your day. It is quite eerie how it is always exactly what I need to hear. 

ROOSTER OR NIGHT RIDER?

It’s funny. If you had asked me this question a year ago I would have said night rider for sure. But as time has progressed, I have definitely morphed into an early bird. Not quite a rooster but definitely catching that worm at like 8:30 or 9am. ;)

ON STAYING GOLDEN

For me it is about spending time with people I love and the people I am inspired by. Also, so much fucking yoga (haha). Yoga every damn day. 

Allowing myself to connect to my breath and give back to my body. This keeps me grounded and in a headspace where I can lead a pack and be there for my riders/clients the way that I want to be. The way that they deserve someone to be there for them. Also, I always take one night a week to light some candles, put on some Etta or Billie, and get in the tub. Soak away any aches, pains, or worrisome thoughts. It is amazing what a little music and warm water can do for your headspace. 

LESSONS LEARNED

I learned this lesson from Melanie G. while going through training and I am reminded of it every damn day.

"The high highs and the low lows are all a part of where you are supposed to be and who you want to be. It is about FEELING EVERYTHING (a tattoo that I have). Not shutting out that emotion but allowing yourself to dig deep into it, to feel it all out, and then allow yourself to grow from that."

To stay weird. Normal is boring. Normal is predictable. Life is too short to be normal, whatever that even means. Let your freak flag fly, whenever your heart desires. 

Also, "This too shall pass." From the good to the bad. It is not permanent. It is a good reminder to not get too stuck in a feeling or on a person or circumstance. 

THE BEAT OF YOUR HEART

I live for the singer songwriters. Something so beautiful and vulnerable in just a voice and an instrument. Mirah is one of my favorites. I also love just putting on my Spotify and seeing what comes up. Depending on day- it can be anything from Classical to Taking Back Sunday. That being said, my class is pretty similar. I love old school sounds, love mashups, and love making people feel something with a song. 

Photograph by Max Reed

SOUL MISSION

I want people to leave with a new sense of awareness in their bodies, in their breath, and also an understanding that they CAN. That the only thing standing in their way of whatever is on the other side is themselves with a set of circumstances. Challenging circumstances sometimes, yes, but never anything that is too big. By being ok with where you are in that moment only opens up the gateway to what is on the other side of that boundary you thought you had. 

ONE WORD. WHEN YOU MOVE YOU FEEL?

Enlightened.

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM

I could literally go on and on about these girls! Instead of doing that- I will just type their names in big bold letters and tell you to go take their SoulCycle classes.

JACLYN MITGANG (CHICAGO)

SUNNY MAE MILLER (BETHESDA/DC)

RACHEL LOEBS (MIAMI)

Also, my mentor Magda is just the strongest damn woman I have ever met in my life. Always lifting herself up while at the same time, lifting everyone around her even higher.

ORIGIN OF #GLITTERBOOTYNATION

The #glitterbootynation came out of my need for community in Miami. I wanted a place where my riders could feel ok to be silly. For them to feel included and encouraged to be themselves. If we all had a place like that, this inner “sparkle” that we all tend to try to stifle, it is actually so much easier to access and use. Anyone can be a part of the #glitterbootynation. You just have to come ride once. BE willing to give yourself and BE yourself. And I promise your tushy will be sore when you leave that studio. 

ON FUELING THE FIRE

If you ask anyone that knows me, they know I am an eater. I just love food. It is there for you all the time. Through breakups, through high pressure situations, and celebrations. There is food for every occasion and I fucking LOVE IT. However, I also really like having abs. Portion control and what you are putting into your body is so important. During the week while I am working, I tend to eat about 4-5 times a day. Small portions about 300-500 calories for each serving and allowing myself to go a little bigger with my final meal if I have had a full day (i.e. 3 or more classes). That said, I do love to indulge. I am addicted to sugar. Dessert first is something I do on the regular if I am going out. Sushi is a regular for me too. I probably cook about 3-4 times a week because It is just the easiest way to know exactly what is going into your body and it becomes therapeutic to me.

MERMAID OFF DUTY

Perfect day includes a leisurely coffee, dog park with my pups, and surrounded by sunshine and salt water...

a little tequila in the picture makes it perfection and some easy poetry for the moments in between cat naps. 

Burning Man  2011. 

Burning Man  2011. 

Man. What a  SOUL.

Be sure to catch her class in Miami or whenever she magically appears in NYC! I know I will be.

https://www.soul-cycle.com/instructors/10197/soeuraya/

 

 

K A L E Y S K O G L U N D

 

https://www.soul-cycle.com/instructors/10305/kaley/

SoulCycle doesn't just change bodies, it changes lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelit rooms, and rocking music, riders can let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts outside the studio walls.

Kaley Skoglund, one of SoulCycle's fresher faces, has officially set a fire that has spread from NJ to NY, and I mean fast! Her class is the perfect combination of an aggressive workout and a soulful experience. Everything about a class with her, is just flat out real. As she smiles through a sprint, your may be asking yourself, how does she do it ? This nonchalant, life crushing bad-ass, is about to open up!

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ON HOW IT ALL STARTED...

She called a cab, sped down to soul HQ in a pencil skirt with one thought on her mind-she had to be fast. "I've got to go first and leave right after" she said. Five minutes later she mounted the bike, turned on her jam, rode and left. Her song happened to be, Dominque Young's- Throw it down, which she now laughs at now since it happened to have a big F bomb dropped somewhere in the middle-classic. If you know Kaley, everything about this situation is insanely perfect. The way she showed up with a nothing to lose attitude, picked a risky song to ride to, and knew she had very limited time to show her spark.

One of my first memories of Kaley is from a few months ago in a class in Short Hills, NJ. She shared a story about a kindergarten teacher who once told her mom that she was a bit aggressive. Turns out, she is, but truly only aggressive about how she lives her life.

OUR MEETING...

After an acai bowl, E sat down with Kaley over coffee to really dive into what life is like as a SoulCycle instructor. So here it goes...here is Kaley's story through her own words...

 

ON LIFE BEFORE SOULCYCLE.

Her day job consisted of anything and everything digital, while her mornings and nights were spent teaching a handful of different classes at Work It Out, a studio in Hoboken-  

(Takes a giant swig of her coffee, and she speaks...) 

In my eyes, there are two types of careers- there's one where you can work your hours, put in your time and not care about it once you set foot on the train. The kind where you're just thankful to have a steady job with a steady salary and take comfort in knowing what you will make and when you will make it.

The person I was before, prior to SoulCycle verses the person I am today, it's literally two completely different people. People always say, you are always all over the place, which I am, but this is what I love to do. I have the second type of career-the type that I am completely passionate about and never stop thinking about. 

Thankfully SoulCycle has made it obtainable to do this as a career. Soul is a company and you are an employee. There is someone who works on your schedule, someone who talks to you about your career path, different opportunities, benefits, etc. You're an asset and they want their instructors to feel supported.

"It's a working partnership-they expect us to be the best and they support us."

The thing about SoulCycle that I think people don’t get until they are in it is that there is always a level of -not competing- but performing. Every day counts. Every class. There is never a situation where you are going to get into class and not have a rider who has never taken you before, a rider who is having their first experience at SoulCycle with you, or a rider who has been riding for 3 years, is a member of the community, and has decided to try you.

"In every single class, you are either giving them an experience or you are not. So you've got to show up. Every. Single. Time."

It can be daunting to people to have to be "on" that much but I think the thing at Soul is that there is so much feedback and support that you always know where you stand. No one is ever there to break you. There is no negativity. From the absolute top down, everyone is there to support you. 

Elizabeth Cutler, SoulCycle Co-Founder and Melanie Whelan, SoulCycle CEO in East Hampton with Kaley. 

Elizabeth Cutler, SoulCycle Co-Founder and Melanie Whelan, SoulCycle CEO in East Hampton with Kaley. 

MORE THAN YOU THINK.

I truly believe there is a difference between just working out versus feeling something emotionally. If an instructor says something that hits home it increases a rider's commitment-it makes them want to be there every week. It gives them something that's healing which creates a need that goes beyond the work out.

If it was just the cardio, riders wouldn't have the same commitment level.

If it was just about the body, just about sweating, or just about getting in shape, then we would have given up on this a long time ago. Yes people are there for the physical aspect, but that's secondary. It is not the driving factor that makes people sign up at noon, with their favorite instructor to ensure that they get their favorite bike. 

I mean for some people, being an instructor is a huge milestone in their in life. That is how it was for me. If it was just about leading a physical experience, I don’t think people would feel like that. 

BELIEVE IT + BE IT.

When I first started teaching I was confident in how to ride the bike but didn’t trust myself as an instructor yet. There is so much that goes into a class! For me, it had nothing to do with the riders- it was strictly me not giving myself the credit I deserved. This is how I am with every single thing I do in my life. I always make it out to be more than it needs to be. I work it up to be a bigger situation than what it is. Then I break on it.

I don't create a rock bottom situation but I just get to a point where I get the hell out of my own way and have fun with it. Then a magical thing happens-you have a class that you feel really damn good about. 

ON CONNECTING WITH RIDERS...

When I first started, I would see instructors chatting with riders after class. They knew their names, their kids,  and all this stuff about them.  I remember thinking, "am I ever going to get there?” I am brand new. I wasn't going to come in and think I knew all these people. I didn't know them. They didn't know me yet. So I had to work on that.

But then it happens and you realize that if you keep sharing yourself, people start sharing themselves. It's a got to be a balanced relationship-a healthy give and take.

 

ON HOW TO STAY INSPIRED...

It's a combination of things. I guess it depends what the situation is.  For classes like roosters, I’m just thinking to myself,

"They are here at 5:45am. They are crazy. I don’t really feel like I need much motivation before seeing them. They come in, they are beautiful and I love them.”

You have to remember that you are very often the highlight of someone’s day. Your class is something they have been looking forward to. They signed up at noon, picked a bike, packed their bag (she laughs), this is an event for them. Soul will never be a class that is just, "Okay I worked out for the day. Done. It’s over."  It is an experience. It is on their calendar. It is part of their day.

The biggest thing is just always remembering and reminding yourself that your job, is to be this highlight of their day. So for 45 minutes you are the highlight of the day. Which is a big responsibility, too. You can be like, “oh shit, am I living up to their expectations?” But at the same point in time you have to just let it go and ride like hell.

BALANCE IS A TRENDY WORD.

E rode Kaley's 5:45 am class this past Wednesday and reflects on the experience-

We eased into class being that it was super early and then she laid the smack down. Throughout the ride there were many still moments where she had us think about who we were before work and life took over. Right away, I pictured myself with my sketchbooks, my paintings, and my camera. My mind could not have thanked me enough for showing up for it. Yeah, maybe my body was not sure but at 6:15 am, my mind and my body, felt on the same page. 

(Back to Kaley)

I think and always have thought that the best instructors are the coolest people. At the end of the day you're not just a fitness machine. In fitness and in anything else there is always more you can do which I know everyone feels, but you have to have experiences and relationships and LIFE to make yourself relatable.

I talk about all of that in class-whatever I'm going through.

The biggest thing I struggle with is the factor of doubt. "Did I do this right? Did I spend enough time downloading music? Should I be cross-training an extra day during the week?" All that stuff goes through your mind. That's been a big topic in class lately-balance and feeling guilty about how you're spending your time. We focus on the fact that as a rider you are here right now, in this moment, on this bike, you might as well enjoy it and squeeze every single thing out of it that you can. Be here and do this.

The things that we are naturally wired for are not the things that make us great people. You are naturally wired to worry, naturally wired to be tired, naturally wired to be nervous. You have to constantly work against your natural wiring. I feel especially at Soul, you are put directly in front of the things that are unnatural. You push past things that are uncomfortable.

You start to find this freedom in class once you can tap into that presence. 

"Yes, it is just you riding a bike but it is a practice of how you approach everything in life-be there, really there."

Having a little, "cheers to that, " moment over at Kaley's local Hoboken coffee shop, Empire Coffee & Tea co.

Having a little, "cheers to that, " moment over at Kaley's local Hoboken coffee shop, Empire Coffee & Tea co.

Balance is a trendy word. People are obsessed with having balance. You know, I have to do this at this time so that I can do this at that time…etc.  But then you are doing the thing that is supposed to be your balance factor and you're like, wait, I am getting my nails done and the only thing I am thinking about is doing something else. I really, really try to just let it fly a little.

 You have to stop scheduling everything. Besides what is non-negotiable. You have to let it flow.

I work during the times most people are off. It can be weird. For me, sometimes Kyle (her boyfriend) and I have an hour and half to eat dinner, shower and get to bed before I am up at 4 am the next morning. It is a little crazy. We are now both really good about being like, w h a t e v e r (she laughs). I am so friggen tired, I haven’t showered in two days, Molly (her dog!) is licking the floor...

It’s not going to be pretty.

And our date night is not going to be on Friday. And that's OKAY.

THE SPIRIT OF AN UNDERDOG.

When I do something big, I think about it forever and then there comes a moment and I just do it. I black out and go. Which is kind of what happened with SoulCycle.

I had been riding for two years and I was obsessed with it.  I knew this would be my dream job if I could do it. I am not sure if it is the same for everyone else but for me it was, “Why me?”  Why would I be the person that makes it, why would I be the person they would pick, why would I be a good instructor? Those kind of things. 

I guess it is just weird to think of yourself on that level. But I also love the spirit of the underdog.  I LOVE the people who you are just like, maybe she does have a fighting shot? Those people who are the quiet ones and just go in and kick-ass. I like those people more than the people who come in with all this legacy around their name.

I'd rather be the person that people are like, “who is that?”

Welcome to the ForceField, Kaley. Your brave story and devotion towards helping others dig into a deeper layer of themselves is a job that can never be thanked for enough.

The Force can only be made up of people who are willing to lay it down for someone else. That is your natural wiring whether or not you are aware of it. Thank you for all you do.

Ready to ride? Sign up for a class with Kaley here.  You will feel nothing but so alive  during her roosters. All before the sun comes up.

K I M B E R L Y MC F E R R O N

Hangin' in the lobby of her club on 74th Street, Kimberly's warmth and smile light up the room. She brings that same warmth into her classes but be warned, she'll kick your booty! 

Hangin' in the lobby of her club on 74th Street, Kimberly's warmth and smile light up the room. She brings that same warmth into her classes but be warned, she'll kick your booty! 

K I M B E R L Y   MC F E R R O N

www.equinox.com

Burn, Baby Burn.   Kimberly is the Group Fitness Manager at Equinox 74th Street, and also the NYC lead for the EQX Barre Burn Signature program.  #equinoxmademedoit

j first met Kimberly a few years ago when they were teaching barre at the same studio. Her energy mixed with her cueing, styling and innovation was an experience (makes sense that she's the Barre Burn lead at Equinox now!)  With dancer roots, you could tell she just had it. Fast forward to her class today, and it's even more impressive, and just as effective. j sat down with Kimberly to dive a bit deeper into her class, her lovely little human + life in the BIG city.

FROM.

I grew up in Salem, Oregon and started in dance which lead to summer musical theatre camps. My first role was as a lost boy in Peter Pan (strangely appropriate). From there, I developed a full blown love affair for performing and spent years running the gambit.

BARRE.

It was by a total fluke that I found barre.

I was taking a self prescribed time out from NYC and heading back to Portland for a short time. A performer friend from NYC told me about his friend in Portland who was teaching some sort of ballet exercise. So I looked her up and just popped into her class one night and said "Hi! Steven sent me!"  

"After class, I had promised myself never to pick up another serving apron and I knew I needed to make money in a way that would keep me healthy and happy."

One thing led to another and before I knew it I was teaching barre!

EQX.

I also got involved in Equinox through a friend. I was teaching for boutique studios outside the city and commuting on the daily and going crazy. I had a mom friend who had previously worked for Equinox (now has her own amazing Pilates business) and kept poking at me to pursue a job there. On a particularly bad commute day I finally snapped and told myself to get it together and get a job in the city. I followed up with the contacts at Equinox and they brought me right in!  

I currently manage 47 instructors on the group fitness schedule at my club, and I manage 48 barre instructors throughout NYC.  I also teach 10 classes a week. 

Doing her thang.

Doing her thang.

That's a lot of instructors.  There's so much competition in New York.  What do you look for in an instructor?

It really is the “it” factor. There just has to be that something in your chemistry and your energy. The more open an instructor is in the way they connect to a room full of people, the more drawn in we will be.

 "I also think brains are sexy as hell, so you have to know what you’re talking about. I love a good performer, but that’s why I go to the theatre. Talk anatomy to me in class, give me a mini-physiology lesson. That’s the kind of dirty talk that will keep me coming back for more."

(Our kind of girl!!!) 

THE BURN.

j took Kimberly's Barre Burn class and truly FELT IT.  Everything that you'd expect from a traditional barre class was there- isometric holds, small range of motion and large, dynamic movements- but NO barre!?   Add in a mat + equipment including weights, yoga block, and Body bar.... 

That's what I like to hear! I promised myself very early on that I would never teach the same class twice. When I get bored, my members will get bored. I am always playing around with fresh variations and cueing. I definitely have checkpoints as far as maintaining the flow of my class but within that I really work hard to make sure it is always a new experience. I love to keep my members on their toes-- literally and figuratively!

BARRE WITHOUT THE BARRE?

I love working without a barre. It's so much more of a balance challenge.  Right now I'm loving single leg standing work on the block in tendu to the back. There are so many ways to play with the posture there and it KILLS on both sides. You can get some serious thigh work done while also working on hip rotation and adduction/abduction. It can also be really fun to finish a series in back attitude to seal the deal. I've also been having some fun lately with seated leg lifts and inner thigh work lying on your side. I try to always be finding new ways to target the same muscle groups. If something is successful in a standing posture, how can I take it onto the mat and make it work there? We always end up discovering new muscle groups when we get innovative with the same old postures. 

ON CHOREOGRAPHY.

The only choreography that gets repeated class to class is my warm up. Beyond that every class will be different. I have people that take me three and four days a week. I have people that travel the city just to take me on a regular basis. The last thing they need is repetition.

PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC.

Yes! Music is everything for an amazing class. I have been loving on Say Something (Karen Harding) and usually anything by Ellie Goulding. Spotify also has some really great playlists to pull from-- electroNOW and Fresh EDM are two of my go-to's. My UES members also love a good Top 40 playlist so we've been having some fun with Elle King and Clean Bandit.

DYNAMIC DUO. Kimberly and her adorable little girl Harper on a hike at Yosemite.  Check out Kimberly's instagram (@kimberlymc) to follow more of Harper's adventures and you'll be smiling with every single post. 

DYNAMIC DUO. Kimberly and her adorable little girl Harper on a hike at Yosemite.  Check out Kimberly's instagram (@kimberlymc) to follow more of Harper's adventures and you'll be smiling with every single post. 

BALANCE + MAMA LIFE.

just another fit mama making it happen.  there's no other way. Is balance even possible?

Oh girl. Balance is a mirage. Sundays have become sacred in our house and we have a pact not to get on a train on Sundays. Sometimes we have to break that pact for ultra exciting plans, but most of the time we use it for a reset day. It's the only day we have the whole day together (Saturday mornings I have to drag her to my club which rarely goes well) so we map out our city plans for Saturday afternoons and Sundays are jammy days. Also known as 'Eggie Sundays.' We're big on breakfast foods in our house. Sometimes Sunday meals only consist of breakfast items.

We love to be outside and especially when the weather is nice we love a good hike. She's a bit of a lost boy as well, and would rather be climbing rocks than walking carved out trails. Then again there are also times where we spend all day in bed with movies and crafts and coloring books and games...

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IN GOOD HEALTH.

When asked about staying healthy in New York.....  Working full-time, commuting from club to club, running from school to work to meetings to clients to tap class to dinner to shows... Honestly, most of it is pre-planning my food. It's a huge game changer. I try to pack as much food as possible. There are so many amazing restaurants in the city but it's impossible to stay healthy when you're eating out all the time, unless you happen to work between Souen and Hu Kitchen (my two faves and NOWHERE near my club). I always have a bag of granola, and I usually get my booty at the Thursday farmers market in my neighborhood and use those veggies for the week. I try to do meal prep on Sunday nights to get my salads and quinoa bowls together for the days ahead. I have a mini fridge in my office where I stash piles of to-go containers. I'm not always at my club to eat, but if I'm off to a meeting I can always grab and go. I also try to stay on top of hydration by always having a water or tea next to me. I'm certainly not well rested enough for my adrenals and central nervous system to get their daily re-boot, but I think that's a foreign concept to anyone who lives and works in this city!

REMEDIES + PICK-ME-UPS.

It depends. I suppose on what's triggering the need for a pick-me-up. Silly as it sounds, WATER. Always. Yoga is great as well. Green tea. Pineapple. A quick steam. I've been known to power nap in the grass in Central Park on a busy work day... And most importantly: CHOCOLATE. Unless I'm hung over. In which case, the only pick me up is a burger and I'm not sorry.   

Can we get an AMEN?!

Sign up for one of Kimberly's classes today. If you're not a member of Equinox, grab a guest pass and go. You won't be sorry! 

xx

j + e