On a frigid March evening in New York a few years ago, I discovered the kickass experience of a ride with SoulCycle instructor Julie Dermer. I’d gotten hooked on the movement a few years earlier (thanks to a running injury, an insistent friend and an awesome class experience) and was missing this inspiring and hardcore workout in my new home city of Paris. The class was full, the lights were low and a vibrant energy resonated from the instructor’s podium, where Julie was clipped in on her bike facing us. From the warmth of her genuine smile, her expressive eyes and strong confident energy, I was almost sure the class would meet my high expectations. And it did.
For those unfamiliar, SoulCycle is a leader in the indoor cycling movement that’s taken cities like New York by storm. It’s not the concept that’s genius; it’s the successful execution. So far, nothing in the City of Lights comes close to the real thing.
Julie Dermer simply kicks ass. Aside from being a SoulCycle instructor, a mother and blogger (check her out in Huffington Post), she is someone who wholeheartedly aspires to contribute positively to the world. We already knew she was inspirational in the studio; thankfully, she’s just as lovely off the bike. Here are some interesting thoughts and insights from a woman who’s bringing her dreams to life each day while encouraging and empowering each of us to do the same. #authenticitywins #NYinParis
Passionate About People. “What inspires me most about being an instructor at SoulCycle is the people. Every single person that clips into a bike is incredible. Everyone has a story, a struggle, a reason for showing up. Maybe a rider originally comes to Soul for the physical workout, but what brings them back is so much more. SoulCycle changes the way we handle life’s ups and downs, celebrations, losses and even tragedies (I’ve seen it get people through the worst). I know – without a doubt – that every ride is life-changing. Sounds dramatic, but I really believe those 45 minutes on the bike change every second in the ‘real world'”.
From Brand New Rider To Coach. Julie’s journey from new rider to instructor happened organically. She lived in the Upper West Side when SoulCycle opened in 2006, began riding on and off in 2007, and got really serious about it in 2009. “I felt stronger than I ever had in every part of my life and I knew Soul was the reason. I’d finally found a place where I could build physical, mental and emotional strength. I soon started riding for the instructors on the podium and, as my 40th birthday approached, feeling confident and more uninhibited than ever (little did I know this was just the beginning), I decided to audition to become an instructor. It was a naturally progression. It felt so right. I could see myself doing it and that was it: I had to make it happen!”
Workout Advice: Make It Fun + Forget Your Ego + Respect Your Body. “I often joke that I hate working out. I really do. I like the after-feeling of most workouts. I think it’s important to find something that doesn’t feel like a chore or too hard. Often the workout is harder because we make it harder on ourselves by bringing in our ego. Leave the ego at home. Pull back a little from your threshold and let go of the expectation. Go out for a 2-mile run if you usually do 3 and it feels too long — you’ll probably wind up going 3 after all. Grab the lighter weights on a day you feel tired, take a restorative yoga class instead of vinyasa, or just let go of expectations and give what you can in that moment — and own it! I tell newbies at Soul to know they can not fail in the room – it’s impossible. They are there and that’s half the battle. Working out is a nice thing to do for yourself, it shouldn’t be torture.”
Inspired by Music + Art + Trendsetters. “Artists of all kinds inspire me big time. I love people who break with convention and make you think. Lena Dunham rocks my world! The impact of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art has stayed with me since I was a teenager; Fetty Wap’s voice gives me chills every time I hear it. Dave Matthews’ lyrics consistently make me cry. People who are willing to authentically put themselves out into the world inspire me. Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, the co-founders of SoulCycle, inspire me beyond words. As business leaders, their brains, tenacity and focus are awe-inspiring. What I find least inspiring is people who waste time blindly following the status quo for fear of judgment. Yuck.
When Life Throws Punches: Talk It Out + Bikram Yoga. “What gets me through difficult times is talking, sharing and just being with people. As soon as I start to talk about fears, anxiety and disappointment, I feel a release. Often what seems big and awful in my head is actually so manageable and normal the moment it comes out of my mouth. I’ll talk to my husband, therapist, or a friend. Yes, there are definitely days when I just acknowledge ‘this feeling sucks’ and I crawl back under the covers. But this is rare, especially as a mom. Bikram yoga has taught me a ton about myself and has been been huge in showing me how to breathe through the uncomfortable moments. Without a doubt, time moves on, feelings pass and you’ll find yourself on the other side of that hill.”
Working Full-time Makes Me a Better Mom. When 9/11 happened, Julie decided to be a stay-at-home mom. As her kids grew, she began exploring going back to work as an interior designer, but it was more difficult than she expected. (Then she found and fell in love with SoulCycle.) “Since I started working full-time, I’ve become a better mom. The kids were 11 and 8 when I started at Soul and they shared the highs and lows of my training, gave me tons of support and cheered me on! Later, when they realized I wouldn’t be able to take them to school every day, and I would have to miss dinner or a soccer game, they weren’t happy. They understood these were choices I made. We had some important talks about me not being able to be there for everything, and I explained that my new job had nothing to do with how much I love and support them. They adjusted, as kids always do — and I really think we grow as a family by adjusting to each other’s schedules. For every mom I know it’s different when it comes to the ‘work versus stay at home’ battle; something always has to give. I know for me: the happier and more fulfilled I am in my professional life, the happier and more energized I am in my personal life.”
Parenting Advice: The Value of Supportive Space. “It’s so hard as a parent to give supportive space to our kids. I remember both of my children changing their interests all the time: ballet this year, gymnastics next, then guitar, and then, “No, I think i want to take photography, Mom”. I remember thinking, “Are they ever going to stick with anything? Am I spoiling them — who’s the boss of who?” And then, of course, the inevitable mom-comparisons: “How lucky is she, her kid is going to be so successful. He’s been playing the piano for 7 years straight and just made the gymnastics team!” Despite this, I’ve continued to bite my tongue and try not to push, and to let them do their own thing. Just recently, their identities and passions are starting to surface. YAY! And I can tell what they’re focused on is what feels right for the right reasons — and is so them! Of course, they’re both still exploring a ton, but I see the comfort they both have in changing their minds and really using their instinct and experiences to guide them.”
Find Love In What You Do. “I think you need to really like what you do. Thankfully, I love what I do, but I know there are plenty of working moms out there who don’t necessarily love their jobs, but love knowing they’re providing for themselves and their families. It would be really unfortunate to spend too much time being miserable at a job. We only have one life!”
Home is Where The Heart Is. When asked her favorite place in New York: “My apartment. It’s cozy, chic and warm all at the same time. When I’m home I often feel like I’m on vacation in the greatest city in the world. I love my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. The parks are beautiful, we’re close to the Hudson River, and walking on the street – amazingly enough – feels like being in a small town. I’m always running into someone I know.”
Favorite New York York Restaurant: “Blue Ribbon Brasserie on Sullivan Street. My husband and I have 20 years of memories at this restaurant. The food is always delicious, cooked perfectly, and there’s a super clean style. My favorite time to dine there is during winter when it’s snowing outside. We’ll sit at the bar and order a big seafood tower with dirty martinis — and life is good!”
* Current Workout Song Addiction: “Alive” by Sia.
“Alive” by brilliant singer-songwriter Sia.
* Check out a few of Julie’s contributions to Huffington Post:
“The Live You Can’t Imagine” in Huff Post: Healthy Living: http://goo.gl/LmRLCh
“The Ever-Evolving Mom” in Huff Post ‘Parents’: http://goo.gl/568p6y