Vicious SoulCycle: Kick-Starting the Baby Weight Loss
Let’s talk weight gain. More specifically, let’s talk my weight gain. Having a baby, moving, and transitioning my career, all within the last 15 months, left me 10 pounds heavier than I was before I got pregnant (at least that’s how I explain it, perhaps to avoid liability for my Mad Men-inspired martinis and all those mindless bites of my toddler’s mac and cheese). So it was with significant apprehension that I accepted an assignment to take a class at SoulCycle—basically the hippest (Jake Gyllenhaal guest teaches), most intense (there’s spinning and crunches and push-ups), most important (it has its own page on Huffington Post) workout in New York, and perhaps one of the best workouts ever.
You’d think I was going on a third date. I bought a new outfit (a striped racerback tank that said, “I’m youthful” and a tight number for underneath that whispered, “I need Spanx”), shaved my legs and put on makeup. I fought off the urge to apply self-tanner—a sweat-streaking disaster waiting to happen. Would the dips, squats and sprints necessitated by my daily life as a mom match the exertion required for SoulCycle? These and other philosophical nuggets became the desperate focus of rumination.
It was awesome. I didn’t keep pace the entire time (know this: most of the time you’re jogging at like 190 beats per minute—a.k.a. the tempo of ABC by Jackson 5, a.k.a. the rate at which my heart potentially explodes), but I kept my butt out of the saddle when I was supposed to. Luckily for me, Jolie Walsh, one of the chain’s most popular instructors, was an inspiring, infectious source of energy.
In addition to being a certified indoor cycling instructor and personal trainer, Walsh is mom to 9-month-old Joaquin. She also has a B.A. and M.A. in music—which is why I was quick to nab her playlist. Read my Q&A with the fit and beautiful trainer, and see her picks for the best workout music below.
By Lee Walker Helland (@leehelland)
Elizabeth Street: You look amazing. What was the most challenging thing about losing the baby weight?
Jolie Walsh: It was an adjustment getting my eating habits back to normal—I really enjoyed my pregnancy! Now, instead of, “Let me eat ice cream every single day,” it’s back to, “Let me eat it twice a week.”
ES: Is there anything about your body that’s still different from before?
JW: There’s extra skin. And I breastfed, so my boobs are different. In a way I’m very proud of it—I grew a human being inside my body! You feel even more confident about who you are and what you can do. There’s so much more to life than looking perfect in a bathing suit. Remember this: Number one, we’ll never accomplish perfection, and number two, so what?
ES: Be real with me: Not all of the new moms who take your class bounce back as fast as you did, right? How do you keep them feeling good about themselves while they’re on the bike?
JW: SoulCycle is not just a workout, it’s a mind-body connection. When I think about the things I’m happy about in my life—right now it’s my son—I’m present, and I feel good. I really try to let go of the physical aspect. I mean, we work hard in my class (believe me!), but I come to it from a different place. We’re all on different paths—sometimes we’re pregnant, sometimes we’re not, some of us are moms, some of us are not. Whether you’re perfect in a size 2 or 6 or 8, does it really matter? It’s about how beautiful you feel.
ES: I like what you said during class: “Comparison is the death of happiness.”
JW: I read that in Self and I loved it! The second you stop comparing yourself, there’s no mold to fit. It’s a quote from Gabrielle Reece, the volleyball player, who has a new book that I’m going to read. I’m always reading about self-esteem and self-growth.
ES: Most of my mom friends aren’t so concerned about pre-baby jeans. Those fit—it’s just that we have these really awesome new love handles hanging over. Help us!!
JW: About 80 percent of losing weight has to do with what you eat, and the other 20 percent is about exercise. SoulCycle really does work—it’s all in your core, and you work your arms and legs, so the weight falls off. But I say get bigger jeans until the weight goes away! Bodies are going to change after giving birth—that’s okay. These days, I use my bigger jeans when I’m PMSing or something. Let’s just be okay right now and be like: These look great on me, whether they’re a size 1 or 5 or 6. Life’s too short.
ES: I read somewhere that almost half of SoulCycle devotees are mothers. Why do you think SoulCycle is ideal for them?
JW: If you’re going to take away time from your baby or time from work, you better make the most of it. Here you’re burning up to 700 calories in 45 minutes, and you’re also getting the mental and the spiritual effecs. Also, a lot of friendships grow out of this place, because we’re very supportive. In my Saturday morning class, everybody starts cheering when I say one person’s name. It’s one of the most beautiful things to hear.
ES: I think I speak for all moms when I say: Sweet Jesus I am tired. How do I turn my urge to nap into motivation to get moving?
JW: Focus on the result and how amazing you’re going to feel. Nine times out of ten, I’m more energized by coming here than by taking a nap. Also, music is magic. It can change your mood, the way you think, and the way you feel. And when you hear it in class, you get that adrenaline rush. You have to trust the process.
Trying to find your rhythm? Check out Walsh’s picks for the best workout music:
If I Lose Myself (Oddio Visual Remix) by OneRepublic
Just a Lil’ Bit by 50 Cent
Bath Salt by LL Cool J
Electroman (John Dahlbäck Remix) by Benny Benassi
Dat New New by Kid Cudi
Tambourine by Eve
I Could Be the One by Avicii and Nicky Romero
Californication (Xristo Remix) by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Stars (Hold On) by Youngblood Hawke
This is Love by Will.i.am
Where I Need to Be by Johnny Marnell, Brian Judan and Scotty Granger
Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke
Want more tips on healthy living? Check out Heidi Powell’s recipe for protein-packed peanut butter bars.