Sweat with Sophia Goldstein of SoulCycle

Pamela Jew
Former NYU student Sophia Goldstein, is a full-time instructor at the SoulCycle studio.

Patting away the pearls of sweat that pooled down her face, Sophia Goldstein, 23, composes herself in the SoulCycle lobby after the 11:45 a.m. 45-minute class she teaches every Saturday at the West 27th Street studio. This is her second class of the day — after her 9:00 a.m. down in SoHo and before her 4:00 p.m. back in the very same dark, bike-filled room. Before sitting down on a bench with EDM music still blaring in the background, I had just worked up the same level of sweat as Goldstein during her class. My morale was a bit low, and I was still catching my breath although it had been 15 minutes since the class ended. Goldstein’s demeanor was the opposite as her smile stretched from ear to ear, and she casually stretched while talking to her “squad” — a group of fellow young women she’s met through SoulCycle who either take her classes or worked with her. But almost two years ago to the day, the Tisch alumna life was opposite to her now fitness-ridden schedule.  

Sophia Goldstein: Before we start the interview, how’d you like the class?

Washington Square News: Well, I’ve taken a class with you once or twice before, and my friend Rachel said she had always wanted to try SoulCycle. So I took her to your class since you were my favorite from the summer.

SG: Aw girl, I appreciate that. Well, I hope you guys felt the same type of energy today as well, and I hope your first — and hopefully not last — class was worthwhile.

WSN: What was your first SoulCycle class like?

SG: Well, I had gotten dragged by a fellow NYU student. She was actually in my sorority, and I was going to spin at my local gym at Crunch. She looked at me and was like, ‘no, no, no you must go to SoulCycle. You’re going to love it, and I know you.’ I told her ‘no, I cannot fit that in my life.’ But it really took one class and I knew I had to take this a lot. I had never tried so hard in my entire life in one activity. I barely remember anything. I’m pretty sure I blacked out in my first class with the music, and it’s very hot. I remember there were candles, and I remember I was just so depleted afterwards. I was like ‘what is this?’

WSN: How did you start working for SoulCycle?

SG: So I ended up getting a job working at the front desk after that first class. I wanted to come all the time, and financially as a student, it was hard to afford obviously (each class is $34 plus shoe rental for $3). I wanted to go every day, like every day. But that was just not happening for me as an 18-year-old. My parents were like, ‘lol no, go get employed.’ So I got a job and really, really fell in love with it, but I knew even before I was at the front desk that I wanted to teach.

WSN: When did you ultimately start teaching?

SG: I auditioned for the first time in December of 2016, got it and here we are.

WSN: How long did you work at the front desk leading up to that audition to become an instructor?

SG: I literally worked at the front desk for a year up to the day. I had gotten employed in 2016, and on Jan. 5, 2017 was when I found out I got into training.

WSN: When did you end up graduating from NYU?

SG: I graduated in December 2016, and I was supposed to be a spring graduate with everyone else. But I got out early, mostly because I was checked out pretty much after four years of conservatory training at Tisch. I was like, ‘real life, let’s get it started.’

WSN: What acting studio were you in?

SG: I was in Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for my first two years and then Stonestreet for the final year and a half at school.

WSN: How did that quick transition from college student to SoulCycle instructor go?

SG: I knew if I got into instructor training, it would start while I would be in school. So I got out and immediately went into it. It was almost like I had no transition. I graduated, went home for winter break, came back and went straight into training. It was one after the other.

WSN: What was training even like?

SG: Rigorous. It’s every day, and it’s so much riding. It’s challenging. I was lucky because I had mentors going ‘You can teach! You can teach! You can do it. It’s going to be so lit.’ But nothing prepares until you’re up on a podium teaching a full class. I had no idea what anything was going to be until I was teaching a community ride. Start to finish — there’s so much you would never think is happening until it does.

WSN: When did you know you really wanted to teach?

SG: Well, I didn’t really know in the first class that I wanted to teach. But I found an instructor that I really identified with. I think it’s sort of a combination of seeing yourself in somebody else and really gaining the strength and trust in yourself of getting the confidence to lead an entire room.

WSN: How did you tell other people you were becoming an instructor?

SG: At first, I really didn’t tell anybody. It was kind of a joke because I was dating someone at the time and he was the last person that I told. I found the people I cared the most about I was so nervous to tell them. It took me a year to get to that point — I lost 30 pounds. I learned a ton about fitness and started riding every single day. Finally then, I was in a place with myself where I felt like I could teach. There was a lot of doubt, but it’s really rewarding once you get through it.

WSN: Was fitness important to you before teaching SoulCycle?

SG: My parents were both athletes. My mom was a runner for Greece. My dad was a bodybuilder. I ran track in high school. I was either going to go to college for track or theater, and I went the theater route. But fitness has always been a part of my life, and that’s how I initially got into spinning because hello, NYU and New York City and with so many hours of class a day, I fell off the wagon without having organized sports. It was on and off, here and there. I turned to spin to really get back in shape and ground myself.

WSN: Do you do anything else other than spinning?

SG: Yeah, cross training is really the most important thing that you can do for your body because all the motions that we do are so lateral. You’re hunched over and your knees are just moving in such a repetitive motion. I weight train. I also teach bootcamps. I go to bootcamps. A lot of people say, “go to yoga,” but it’s been strength training that’s changed not only my body but my ride.

WSN: What’s your favorite move on the bike?

SG: Running, duh. You guys were both there. You saw!

WSN: What’s your favorite type of music to play?

SG: EDM. I’m from Las Vegas. I can’t help it. My first life aspiration was going to Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas. Yeah I know it’s sad, but it’s really true. I love EDM, but lately due to some friends in my life, I’ve been trying to play more hip-hop and rap. It’s the easiest thing to play EDM because it’s so high hype, but you gotta mix it up.

WSN: What do you think sets SoulCyclers apart from other fitness goers?

SG: Everything. Community, the fact that you can go every single day, twice a day. People go hard for this activity, and it’s amazing because it really will change your body. But I would say the ability to train frequently and the genuine passion for the activity. It’s not just, ‘oh, I have to work out.’ It’s more of ‘yes, I’m going to Soul in the morning. It’s going to be so fun, and I’m going to see my friends.’ I’m friends with so many of my riders. It’s that aspect that makes it completely the next level.

WSN: What’s your favorite part of your job?

SG: Nobody tells you in training that you’re going to meet best friends out of this, that you’re going to build genuine connections with people that you would never know. That is the best part by far is watching people get better and stronger and getting to also have fun throughout that process.

WSN: What would you say to somebody that’s discouraged after their first class?

SG: Try again, always. That’s the best part about falling down — you get the opportunity to get back up.

Read more from Washington Square News’ Fitness Feature here. Email Pamela Jew at [email protected] Additional reporting by Rachel Buigas-Lopez.

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