During my last stay in NYC I decided to experience something that is increasingly popular among the young, hip and trendy New Yorkers…SoulCycle!
As I already mentioned I am a fitness addict (but in the healthiest way). Recently I learned how to love strenuous boot camp sessions and I successfully trained for my first half marathon so I was totally ready to experience a new challenge.
The first time I came across the word SoulCycle I was reading a Katie Holmes interview in Glamour where she confessed her addiction to this “boutique exercise class”. Intrigued by Ms. Holmes fitness preferences I decided to learn more so I did some online digging and I found out that that SoulCycle is considered the new hottest thing in fitness right now. I am already a fan of indoor cycling so I decided right away that I had to try it!
For those of you not familiar with this new fitness experience, SoulCycle is nothing like a stationary bike workout…it is closer to a mix of dance party, therapy and communal high. It is a 45-minute high-intensity workout during which you are encouraged by instructors to pedal on the beat and follow choreography by surging up and down. To make it even better they added some targeted strength moves for arms, chest, back and shoulders transforming the ride into a total-body workout.
I must admit I was skeptical at the beginning because it is still just a 45-minute workout…that cost almost one dollar per minute! (One class cost $34..plus $3 for shoes…and $2 for water). It seemed a lot even for the most expensive zip code in the Country. I decided to go for it anyway so I registered online, paid and reserved my bike in one of the eighteen New York locations.
I arrived a little early and after signing documents and a brief introduction, I sat and waited surrounded by girls wearing the newest Lululemon collection and Michael Kors handbags. Then finally the time arrived…. the light dimmed and the class started with blaring music. After a very short warm-up I felt the entire room get steamy and bursting with energy …. I was breathing adrenaline!
During the first 10 minutes I thought I was part of an exorcism…and I could not stop thinking: ”it seemed such a good idea..I can’t believe I actually paid for this torture!”…then, when I completely ran out of oxygen I found my soul! The instructor (looking like Eric Bana in the Hugh Jackman-Wolverine body) was barking out commands and inspirational sayings over the throb and sway of the music. I tried to follow the beat and soon I was dancing on the rooftop of my cardio party!
For those of you who like to go nowhere fast and are addicted to indoor training…I highly recommend to try this fitness experience…and after all it is still one of the cheapest fun things to experience in Manhattan!
Lately I have been thinking about my obsession with the new that pushes me to hit the refresh button quite often. In the past few years I changed countries (actually continent), careers, habits, friends, a couple of hair cuts and wardrobe…chasing something new and exciting in the maddening pursuit of happiness! I became a master in changing and adapting myself to new situations to a point that I started losing the feeling of belonging somewhere, the feeling of having roots to keep me grounded.
With this post I am not trying to generalize or to categorize people into different groups based on common characteristics. However, it is undeniable that (for whatever reasons) there are people who are not afraid of starting a new path when the old one doesn’t fit anymore and people who prefer feeling the comfort of what is known. I belong to the first group. I am a rebel that is always seeking new opportunities and never stops fighting to pursue a dream or to achieve great accomplishments. It is like having wings to fly around and I have flown around a lot and I have learned….
I learned that there is nothing more exciting than a fresh start, nothing more exhilarating than realizing your own dreams. I learned that dreams come true, not free. Most of all I learned that all changes do bring some dose of melancholy because of what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves and there is no abracadabra around there. I read somewhere that “we must die to one life before we can enter another” and I couldn’t agree more.
However, the most important thing that I have learned is about myself and the fact that despite my rootless flying around I need some stability and a sense of belonging…It took a long road to get here…a path full of detours and mistakes but I finally realized that I need to grow roots somewhere. Perhaps it was just a matter of knowing when enough was enough! The main challenge is that I tried to change my nature many times but I failed. Perhaps because roots and wings are two apparently contradictory elements! So I guess now I just have to figure out how it is possible to put down my own roots without losing my own wings.
About two years ago I left California and I moved to Portland. Since then all my friends (most of them still in the Golden State) keep asking me the same two questions: “Why did you move away from California” and “how is Portland?” Usually, people that are not from Portland tend to associate this city with the satirical sketch comedy television series Portlandia. It is easy to understand that they all make fun of me for living in such a hipster city!
When I first moved here I didn’t really like it. I was moving from California so I was definitely used to living in a more sunny and warm location. To be truly honest I have never been a fan of neither the rainy weather nor the hip urban communities. But who would like a constant low hung ceiling of grey clouds that sunbursts from time to time for a quick shot of sunshine between rain and more rain? However much I try, I will never learn how to appreciate these meteorological conditions!
I spent the first couple of months complaining about basically everything…the weather, the fact that I had no friends and most importantly that the city was a lair of hipster people. I know that it might sound a bit shallow but for a fashionista that daydreams about Fifth Avenue and the Magnificent Mile, Portland is definitely a “different” planet where people are definitely not into the mainstream of fashion and culture. But then as I always do, I decided to keep a positive attitude and I gave Portland a chance. So one step at a time I started meeting new friends, I started going out and exploring the restaurant scene and cocktail bars. I have been seriously impressed and I began appreciating the city with a different approach…a more culinary one! After all Portland is the nation’s most lauded food truck and farmers market city. It is the place where foraging for organic veggies at a farmers market is the State sport. It is a city full of eclectic little coffee house and bookstores. It is nerdy…but a very cool form of nerdy!
I chose to embrace the saying “when in Rome do as the Romans do” so I started hanging around farmers markets and embracing the healthy farm-to-table concept. I discovered that most of the people (at least the authentic “Portlandia guys”) buy sustainable, locally grown organic food and firmly believe in the magic power of cultured food. Most of my Portland friends religiously drink fermented beverages because “it is good for you”. The coolest and hippest people brew those cultured drinks in their own houses because they say “it is even better for you”….go figure! I must admit little by little I started to be intrigued by the young, hip urban community. I embraced this new life style but of course with my own twist. I still feel that some of the unique, unconventional fashion sensibilities coming out of this city are still a bit too much for me. Dreadlocks, unshaved armpits and quirky accessories will never be part of my fashion vision but the best part of Portland is that here you can really be yourself.
Here for the first time I feel I can experiment with any kind of outfit because Portland is the capital of creativity. Besides owning a good coat and boots (“a must”) to combat the long cold, rainy season, I am totally jazzing up my style with splashes of color, designer finds and thrifty picks. After traveling and living in so many different places I am well aware that there is no perfect place.. but then I found Portland and here I can totally experiment myself in freedom…this is seriously cool, hip….this is Portland!