When it comes to inspiring instructors, it seems the world has fallen madly in love with the men and women of SoulCycle. Countless articles, press mentions, and even morning television has locked in on the people who motivate those of us who “tap it back.”
I have a few loves when it comes to instructors, but there’s only one woman whose class I never miss: meet my dear friend, instructor Lori Sanchez Abeles.
Remember I told you to make friends with instructors? Lori is one such person for me, from hunting me down on Facebook to picking me up on days where I’m not as confident. She’s unleashed a fierce warrior side to my personality, and 45 minutes with Lori and her body-positive vibes and funky beats (her playlist feels like we share a brain, I swear) finds me completely confident and ready to take on the world.
Short of taking her class (and please do if you’re in New York or in LA over the next week,) I’d love for you to get to know one of my nearest, dearest #fitspirations. Meet Lori:
On becoming an instructor…
“I started out working in TV and entertainment, a career I loved like crazy for about 15 years. I was an agent, and then moved to California to worked in television, but then I took a hiatus to have and raise my two boys. I’d been a passionate indoor cycler back in LA, and when I moved back to New York I had a really hard time finding anything like what was happening in the LA studios. That’s when a little place called SoulCycle opened in a tiny rear lobby space on West 72 Street.
I fell madly, passionately in love. I rode steadily while I was a stay-at-home mom, and it was a life changer for me physically, socially, and emotionally; truly my happy place. When my little one hit Kindergarten age, I knew it was time to go back to work, but I didn’t want to be away from my family for the time a career in TV demands. I knew I’d miss my Soul classes, so I auditioned and got the gig. Five years later, the bike is still my happy place.”
On her greatest joy when it comes to instructing…
“Seeing people get happy on a bike. Not perfect, but happy. There’s such joy from leading folks to ride their best ride and have the time of their lives, watching them take it to the next level and beyond, growing and changing. Also, you get to watch people let stuff GO. I’m proud that all it’s all achieved thorough kindness, encouragement, and positivity. Negativity has no place in my class. Only love!”
On her favorite move in class…
“Standing runs, baby! I love to run, followed closely by the classic tap back. And I love just letting the whole class have a freestyle dance break every now and then!”
On what she wishes we’d start doing for ourselves….
“Move! I believe that everyone can find joy and euphoria moving their bodies. For those of us that aren’t natural athletes, music really facilitates that. Moving on the dance floor is great for everyone, but how often do we find ourselves on the dance floor past a certain age? The bike is my dance floor, and I get to go dancing every damn day. Find music you love, and dance! It’s simple, but a game changer.”
On what she wishes people would stop doing to sabotage themselves…
“As women, we are more critical of each other than any man will ever be, and the minute we let go of that critical side we become a super power as a community. You have to realize that we can do so much more together than alone, and tearing each other down doesn’t get anyone anywhere. One woman cannot really make herself look that much better by tearing another woman down; it makes us all collectively look worse. Turn down the criticism of ourselves and our community. It’s rampant and poisonous.
Also, people’s fitness efforts are often motivated by an external expectation of beauty, attractiveness and/or value. Whether it’s unattainable magazine images, the voice of a parent or partner in your ear, we give those messages such power. I wish we could take a big eraser, wipe out all that brainwashing, and just dance. Everything good can happen physically if we can just let go of the mental pollution and static. Music has phenomenal power to heal in all kinds of ways.”
If you’re intimidated to try SoulCycle for whatever reason…
“The perception seems to be that the people you’re riding with are going to shame you or judge you on the bike or in the class, and that’s just not true. I erase that completely from my class from the minute we start. We’re all there to move, regardless of our skill level, our fitness ability, or how many times we’ve ridden. It’s a legitimate fear because new things are intimidating, but be brave. You’ll never discover what you love until you try something new.”
On what brings her joy..
“My kids, my love, my job, my family. and my friends. Music. Warm sun, and clear blue water.”
On what she does to relax…
“I have a semi-regular ritual of a hot bath with incense burning and a glass of good wine. I also love a massage from my favorite masseuse at Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel: it’s a legitimately healing experience in the real true sense of the word. I can’t reveal her name or I’d never get another appointment! Once in a blue moon, I’ll take a trip somewhere tropical. I think my Cuban blood makes me crave warmth, sand and sea!”
On her favorite foods….
“Gah! How can anyone answer that question with just one food?!? I love so many, but above all else tomatoes in any form: fresh from the garden in summer, sauces, pizza, pasta, sun-dried — anything! When it comes to sweets, I’m obsessed with any combination of chocolate and nuts. If we’re talking healthy foods, it’s a tie between roasted Brussels sprouts and avocados.”
Lori Sanchez Abeles was photographed by Kristin Booker at SoulCycle West Village on January 16, 2015. All rights reserved.