Recently when I fessed up that I had never been to a Charlee Atkins class, one of my Soul Cycle friends was horrified…. his exact response was “that is unacceptable” followed the next day by a list of classes he was going to be taking with her the next week. Turned out there was really only one that I could make, her Saturday night class in Tribeca – which is easily my favorite of the Soul Cycle studios. I am always game for any new class and always have fun at Soul Cycle, so I immediately wrote back and said “I’m in!”
When I got to the studio, my friend had already checked me in and after a brief moment of horror at realizing I was in the front row, I shrugged it off and snagged a pair of shoes for the ride. When I turned around there was Charlee, sporting a bright red baseball cap worn backwards, who really is stunning in person but also has a wide, disarming smile. I’d seen so many serious, smoldering fitness shots of her that the smiling, sweet, open person asking me how I felt about “aggressive rides” in front of me threw me off a little. In those first few minutes of meeting her, I realized that my preconceived notions of what this class was going to be were just completely out the window.
In the room, I got all set up and waited for the class to start. My friend was across the room so I sat there in the front row and just took in the scene, which was filled with regulars (always easy to spot) and a few newbies to the class like me. After everyone got settled, Charlee immediately got down to business. The music was aggressive but in the best possible way and I immediately was sucked into the ride. The songs had us riding on a heavier, slightly slower beat than a lot of the Soul Cycle classes I have been to, so with the heavier resistance and more seated work, it was a class that just felt GOOD – hard & challenging but good. She also did a thing I loved, she broke down the pushup moves. Charlee would start the pushups in a slightly slower tempo section and then would allow the music to ramp up the speed of them naturally. It made so much sense to me that I was pretty close to being able to do all of the chorography – even the clapping pushups towards the end! It was like a miracle – I was in the front row and didn’t feel totally hapless!
Charlee was just amazingly charismatic – on the bike or when she would get down off and move around the room- she pounded out the beat with her whole body. I totally get now why my friend was so horrified that I hadn’t taken her class…I walked out of her class completely blown away and trying to figure out when I would get to take another one.
Charlee really is just epically good.
Photos of Charlee from the Soul-Cycle Website & quote from their Facebook page