Day 22: Back to Soul
Background: Our mission is to bring Soul to the people. Our one of a kind, rockstar instructors guide riders through an inspirational, meditative fitness experience that’s designed to benefit the body, mind and soul. Set in a dark candlelit room to high-energy music, our riders move in unison as a pack to the beat and follow the signature choreography of our instructors. The experience is tribal. It’s primal. It’s fun.
SoulCycle (SC), considered the most nationally recognized spin studio, is a cult. And I mean that in the best way possible. Most fitness studios develop a community aspect within it’s members, but something’s different about those who “Soul.” I mean, growing up in Orange County every girl I knew was heading over to the new SoulCycle in Newport. So what gives?
Whenever my Mom and I go on vacation together we always workout together, whether it be hiking, running, lifting weights, you name it. We’d always complain to each other about having to workout in the first place, but that’s neither here nor there. But at home (aka the real word), working out became an afterthought — as it does for most people. We had demanding jobs, chores, and personal lives we wanted to maintain. But we were missing out on the self-care part of our lives (the theme of 2018/19 if you haven’t noticed).
Yet much to Sam’s credit, she brought SoulCycle to the Barbour family. My Uncle visited Sam Easter Weekend in San Diego 4ish years back, and they ended up making the trip to Orange County to visit my Mom. Mom loves church (and I mean LOVES) — so they were roped into going too. My Mom has never left church early for ANYTHING. Stays ‘till the last song is played and the seats are empty. But today was different. There happened to be another church down the road she’d fall in love with, she just didn’t know it yet.
Long story short, Sam convinced the group to leave early to catch the Sunday morning SoulCycle class in Newport, and my Mom hasn’t been the same since. Goes avidly, knows everyone, and has a community of friends she can lean on when need be. So, she tells me this story and explains the best Mother’s Day gift would be for us to go to SoulCycle together (I know, I’m a giver). We attend the class, and I instantly knew why everyone drank the Kool-Aid. SC introduced me to boutique fitness and the community/self-reflection it brings. I loved the music, the competition, the personalized feel — I’m sure we all know what it’s like you don’t need me to explain. I loved the class, but I never went back. To be honest I’m not sure why, nothing personal, SC.
Until now. Man, what a lead up to Day 22 at SoulCycle LaJo. I’ve got to say, my re-introduction to Soul was off to a pretty terrible start when Sam gleefully explained to me our reservation’s start time: 6 am.
“That’s not it, man.”
After arriving (and finding — we always park on the opposite side of the mall) at the studio, we were greeted with so much energy it sneaky made me jealous. Turns out our friend, Lizzie, is the one who convinced Sam to take the 6am class together…thanks, Liz.
How could these people be so hyped at 5:45am? Then there is our instructor, Maya.
Here she comes — basically skipping — out of the class blasting some of the best remixes I’ve heard in a while. Her energy is contagious, and I perked up ready for class. Sam is a sicko and was ready to rock, needing no spark to get her ready for Soul. We enter the class and clip in. I’m top 5 worst ever at clipping my feet into the bike, so I hold a special place in my heart for those who help me get situated (shout out Maya). After that I semi-blacked out (kidding, Mom). What I mean is: I didn’t think about any of the crazy going on outside those doors. Maya captured our attention immediately and kept us rocking for the rest of the class. She even played my favorite song of all-time, Roses. We crushed hills, sprints, and moved ourselves all the way around the bike to the fire tunes Maya queued up. Ahh, so this is why I liked SoulCycle.
The community SC creates around its members is unlike any other. I can’t explain it, but I’m jealous of it. Even the 6am classes are packed, and everyone is catching up before and after like old friends reunited after a long hiatus. Maya’s vibe is dope, the class is exhilarating and exhausting, and the SoulCycle UTC location is a hidden gem in San Diego’s fitness scene. Post-class we were able to catch up with Maya (I laid down while Sam and Maya seemed shockingly fine) and learn more about the spunky Soul-er (TM: dylan). Check it out below!
Meet the Instructor
Maya Monza: @mayamonza
How’d you start teaching fitness and then end up at SoulCycle?
MM: I was a kinesiology major at SDSU and I graduated in 2016. But ever since I was a little kid, I was obsessed with fitness. I would put my mom’s bikinis on and dance around and do performances. I’d learn Buns of Steel workout videos because that’s what I thought was fun: watching people workout. So, when I was 14 I decided to intern at a local health club (wasn’t even old enough to work yet). The owner’s let me shadow the trainers, and it showed me that I wanted to do more than train. I wanted to create my own fitness empire! I wanted my own workout videos, to teach classes, and even be on billboards. I really brought the entrepreneur mindset with me when I came to fitness. It’s never about personal training or the one-on-one part of it, I love the group mentality of it. When I found out SC was opening, I had been teaching for 6 years so I applied for the training program!
Can you give us the inside scoop on the training program?
MM: The program is SUPER intense. You apply to audition, then audition, tons of interviews, and if you’re selected you move to New York for an in depth 10-week training program. They’ve done a few in LA but the main hub is in NY. Everyone just quits their day jobs where they are and moves out to New York to chase their dreams! But the crazy part is you don’t know exactly where you’ll be teaching..so you submit a top 3 and the company places you where there’s a need! Some people are open to just going anywhere, but I knew I wanted to come to San Diego and grow the market here.
Please tell us about the effect SoulCycle has on its members.
MM: I mean honestly it is kind of like my church, like therapy. You just hope the music is loud enough or encourages you enough to get through those tough moments. If I was on my bike at my house I would not work as hard as I work here. And it’s kinda fun because this is where you can feel confident, create a routine, and have something you look forward to. And that is what I noticed is different from the other gym settings (ex. non-boutique): when people had a trainer or instructor there it creates a sense of accountability and implores them to push themselves even harder.
In your opinion, how important is music related to fitness?
MM: MUSIC IS MY LIFE. Music is everything to me. That is where the passion started for me — you need to have something that makes you want to move your body. But what is great about SoulCycle is that you don’t just have that high energy vibe the whole time. You allow people to slow it down and draw back into themselves to have the entire experience — sometimes they’ll cry or laugh or just let go. I spend so much time on Spotify putting together playlists for my riders because at the end of the day it’s a service I need and want to do for them. The fitness industry is so saturated, but there is so much music. I’m constantly looking for new songs, collaborating with instructors, and even asking people what they want to hear. If you’re going to pay for this premier experience, I’m going to do everything to provide it to you.
Share your experience with the hashtag #100VizerDays or meet us at the studio to join in on the fun! Up next is CorePower Yoga in Pacific Beach!