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She’s Got Soul: Stacey Griffith

 “My students are entertained, therefore creating a fun, exciting athletic experience for them.”

It’s 11:59 A.M. and upwards of 700 women sit impatiently by their computers, waiting for the clock to strike noon. No, they are not waiting for an online sample sale to go live. The anticipation is high as they click through the Soul Cycle class registration website, hoping and praying they are fast enough to make it into one of Stacey Griffith’s classes. With 15 sold-out classes each week with 45 to 70 bikes per class, Griffith’s cycling class has inspired a loyal following, even amongst celebrity clients like Nicole Kidman, Katie Lee, Jodie Foster and Brooke Shields.

Griffith, one of Schwinn Cyclings’ first Master Instructors, also was an Ashtanga Yoga pupil under Sri Pattabi Joyce in India. She even studied under ultimate life coach Anthony Robbins. Add her life experience, motivational expertise and background in fitness, and not surprisingly, the outcome is New York’s most sought-after body, mind and soul instructor.

“You never know when you will have to rely on your strength; it will come when you least expect it.” This one of the many uplifting phrases that Griffith’s devoted followers refer to as Stacey-isms. They inspire and motivate her students to return week after week; that is, if they are lucky enough to sign up before the class sells out, often within seconds after registration opens.

During class, Griffith chants,“Sexy, strong and confident- It’s who you are,” to her class of sweating, scantily-clad students cycling away their stress, shedding pounds and building confidence.

Griffith has been inspiring people through group fitness for more than 20 years, 16 of which have been indoor cycling-specific. In California, she conducted spin classes with 80 bikes and had waitlists that wrapped around the side of the building. As no stranger to success in the exercise industry, it only made sense that Soul Cycle founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler knew they found their superstar spin instructor when they met Griffith five years ago. But in New York, the road to fame was slow at first.

“The first week I had eight people,” Griffith said. “I thought, there is no way I can keep doing this. I need an audience. I can’t go through this at 38 years old, being a nobody again- I’m too old!”

Soon after, everyone caught on to Griffith’s talent. A class with her is a jolt of confidence and dose of caffeine rather than a grueling, tiresome workout. With energetic  dance songs blasting in a clean, candle-lit room, and Griffith leading the class with her motivational words of wisdom and burst of strength, Soul Cycle’s loyal following is growing faster than anyone had expected.

Griffith’s philosophy of exercise is based on her experience as an athlete mixed with her background as a coach and unexpectedly, a brief stint as a stand-up comic.

“My students are entertained, therefore creating a fun, exciting athletic experience for them,” she said of her classes. “It’s why they continue to return to me week in and week out. There’s a reason why you walked through that door.”

For Griffith, it’s not just about a good workout, but a journey she encourages her students to take so that they may rediscover the best version of themselves.

This summer, Soul Cycle opened a new location in East Hampton, where Griffith teaches on the weekends. After all, her jet-set clients need a dose of Griffith out East as well.

Along with the opening to look forward to, Griffith has expanded her brand and created a private label juice produced by East Hampton Gourmet Food called, GRIFF!T GREENS, available at Soul Cycle East Hampton (68 Newton Lane, 631-324-6600) and Soul Cycle Bridgehampton (264 Butter Lane, 631-537-3630).

Another piece of Griffith’s wisdom that inspires healthy living amongst her fans is this simple phrase: “We build bodies from the soul, out.”

And there could be no one better to exemplify this mantra. For Griffith, cycling goes beyond her career and even her passion. It’s a way of life.

“I want my students to wear my Soul Cycle classes all day long,” she said. “It stays with them and inside of them, until I see them the next time.”

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014