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!
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.
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.
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."
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.