An interview with Daniela Dib, the trailblazing senior instructor at SoulCycle Vancouver, on how the fitness industry is changing and where SoulCycle fits in.
When it comes to health, there has never been a moment where its importance has been emphasized and instilled in our lives, as it is today. From the increasing popularity of meditative practices and holistic lifestyles, to the burgeoning industry of self-improvement media, to health fads like the celery juice cleanse, it is undeniable that we are becoming a more health-conscious society.
Fitness or “working out” used to be a means to achieve weight loss or a desired fitness goal, but nowadays, when it is slowly becoming an essential part of life, a successful studio or gym has to offer much more than physical training. In this incredibly competitive and saturated fitness market, the cycling studio SoulCycle, founded in 2006, has emerged as a fitness behemoth and developed a cult-like following since its inception. Apart from the intense environment, that is likened to a dance club with its thumping music and darkened room, the other major cornerstone of the studio’s tremendous success, are the instructors and the energy they bring to their classes. I had a chance to sit down with Senior Instructor Daniela Dib, one of the first instructors who opened Vancouver’s SoulCycle location in Yaletown, to chat with her about why her classes are always full and nearly impossible to reserve, how she connects with her riders and brings the same level of energy to each class, and what her thoughts are on the future of fitness.
When I met Daniela, it was like a warm beam of sunshine had entered the room. Her positivity radiated through her smile, which, like her energy, she never fails to bring to her class. Like SoulCycle, Daniela has a huge fan base of loyal riders, many of whom have become close friends over the years. Her ability to connect with people is rooted in her relatability, her astute ability to read of the vibe of the room (for instance, if she senses the crowd is rowdy, she’ll amp up the energy), and finally, her openness with the riders that enable her to have insights into their lives. Success, however, didn’t come easy to her; she underwent an extensive training program before being hired after failing her first instructor try-out. To this day, as a senior instructor, she ensures she is fully prepared for every class, including her playlist, “entrance song”, outfit, and the messaging she has prepared for the day. Despite her positivity, she is not always happy, as she reminded me, no one is immune to challenging times and failures. Her prescription for maintaining a positive outlook, however, is simple and consists of a few easily replicable practices; be grateful and extend grace to others (especially your loved ones), be selective of who you spend your time with, have a quick bounce back time in face of set-backs, and go after what you want no matter what shows up in life.
When I asked Daniela her thoughts on the evolution of the fitness industry, and whether this community-focused style of class would continue, or fade in the light of rising of digital fitness platforms, she believes the need for human interaction and community will always be present. The energy in a SoulCycle class cannot be replicated from your living room no matter how hard you try.
My conversation with Daniela provided me with some food for thought on the concept of fitness and well-being. It is undeniable that uplifting mental fitness that builds a strong mind has become just as integral as a physical workout that builds physical stamina. Mental and physical health appear to be increasingly intertwined as more consumer services and products begin to emerge that are aiming to cater to both. Whether an emphasis on this integration continues to grow remains to be seen, yet one would hope so. Speaking with Daniela has led to one certain conclusion: both mental and physical fitness require consistent efforts, and a steadfast desire to make things better.