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always moving: an interview with soulcycle master instructor ryan lewis

posted by
Ian Campbell

get to know soulcycle master instructor ryan lewis

Ryan Lewis is a Master Instructor and the Head of Instructor Development at SoulCycle, an international studio for intense, immersive, and music-fuelled indoor cycling classes.

Ian Campbell is the founder of eseo, an app working to create a thriving community of athletes in Philadelphia.

Ryan and Ian sat down to chat about self-love, empowerment through fitness, and the importance of community.

Who is Ryan Lewis?

What a question! I am somebody who finds love and trust in myself through knowing that those around me are doing the same. I crave that environment. That’s why it’s not a job for me to be at SoulCycle and in the fitness industry—it’s a calling. 

A lot of us seek higher levels of confidence, self-love, and/or a sense of purpose. For me, I’m at my best when I’m supporting other people and feeling supported by them in return. 

Other than that, I’m a coach, a friend, a confidant, a son, a friend, a brother. I am vulnerable. I am always moving. I am relentless. I am hard-working, motivated, and abundantly caring. 

How do you manage to instruct 12 to 20 classes every week?

Well, I do the playlists the night before. I like to be intentional with my classes, so I need time to set the intention and be specific in my delivery.

With that said, every class comes from an authentic place. Of course, I’m human. So, sometimes I get “DJ’s block” if you will, and it’s tempting to just play the ole’ faithfuls. When the creative juices are flowing, though, I try to push myself to get ahead and produce as many playlists as possible. 

As for the physical aspect, when I’m in the mood to move, I’m going to do it. So that’s not difficult for me. There are moments when you feel better after the class is over, but there are more moments when you feel better during it, too. 

I rarely feel like it’s about the finish line, it's about the moment. So I don’t have to gruel through 45 minutes to get to the good feeling. I know I’ll get there in a few minutes. That’s how I physically manage to do the classes.

Also, I’ll admit, my cross-training is excessive—I have a need to always be moving. So I do at least one form of cross-training per day. It helps limit the risk of injury and keeps my body adaptable.

What makes SoulCycle different from other cycling classes?

SoulCycle is a 45-, 60-, or 90-minute mind-body stationary indoor cycling workout. Through the workout and motivation from the instructor, it brings everything together to create an impactful experience for the mind and body. 

Whatever your goals may be, ultimately you’ll come back because it helps you achieve so much more than that. There's a sense of mental clarity and a therapeutic element that helps you rewire the negative mindset and/or trauma you may be experiencing in your personal life. 

There is a practice in cognitive behavioral therapy of immersing yourself in negative memories and engaging in rhythmic stimulus tapping. When you’re triggered, chaos comes in and pulls you out of the present moment. The consistency of the tapping helps to create order. It reminds your body and mind that order does exist. It pulls away this uncertainty and weight that trauma can bring to an individual. 

With SoulCycle, we ride to the rhythm of the music. It’s always consistent. It may look chaotic, but it’s patterned. It mimics life in that way; you may be triggered by something, but the consistency and patterns can bring you back into a groove and put you back in control.

If you work through only the body or only the mind, you can only achieve so much. Working through both your mind and body together in a room with over 50 people—you can achieve anything. That’s SoulCycle.

Do you have advice for people struggling to get involved? 

My advice for anything physical is to just try. Make the attempt. You can start to figure out how you can authentically show up as you go.

There might be a bit of pressure in actually doing something, but there’s less pressure in trying. There’s space to recognize how you need to grow. That’s a good thing. As humans, we should always be working on something. But if you just try, you’ll surprise yourself with how fast you can bridge that distance.   

Can you tell us what allyship means to you?

The idea of an ally is rooted in empathy. They understand and feel for others. An ally is someone who stands up for someone else because they want to make a better world. They acknowledge their positions and use their privilege to advocate for others to feel as safe and seen as everyone should feel. 

In my opinion, the power of an ally rests in their ability to channel empathy to advocate for someone else so they can be a better version of themselves. 

Is there anything else you want to talk about? 

Fitness, specifically group or community fitness, has the power to save and change lives. After coming out of an intense partying scene, I needed recovery. I found community with SoulCycle really quickly. 

While I was in outpatient rehab, I would sign in, do my class, and sign out. After recovery, I would show up early and leave late so I could engage with everyone. After rehab, so many of the meaningful conversations I was having were with people who I met at SoulCycle.

Building community is about active listening, accountability, and creating small moments. It gives you another reason to be in class. That’s what made me want to become an instructor in my own way. I’m really excited to do more of that in New York. 

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You can follow Ryan Lewis on Instagram and check out his features in the Chicago Tribune, Philly Mag, and Savvy Mainline

Read wisdom from Ryan here and get wisdom from Ryan in your inbox weekly by signing up for eseo’s newsletter here.  

Visit the SoulCycle website for information about classes and more. 

At eseo, we’re dedicated to creating a thriving community of athletes in Philadelphia. From hikers to spikers, golfers to goalies—if you can move, you’re an athlete. Download the app to become a part of our team!

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get to know soulcycle master instructor ryan lewis