Thanksgiving is upon us and I wanted to share a very personal story of mine from the last several months.

There is an exercise craze that you may or may have not heard about called SoulCycle.  It was started in New York a few years ago.  It is an indoor spinning class – basically in the dark (with candles), pounding music and instructors to motivate you and push you to the limit.  Exercise has never really been my strength…until I checked this out five months ago when it came to San Francisco.  Last week they featured my story on their blog and I wanted to share it with you.

You can check out the story online HERE or read below.

As we take time this week to reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives, I wanted to share how extremely grateful I am for this recent journey.

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving week.


Soul Transformation: Grant

After a five-month journey at SoulCycle, Grant K. Gibson has shed more than 35 pounds and begun healing from a devastating personal loss. The San Francisco interior designer (who just donated his big jeans to charity!) shares his Soul Transformation.

My friends in New York were always talking about SoulCycle. So when Soul Marin opened five months ago, I decided to check it out on opening weekend.
My first class didn’t go very well. I hid in the farthest, darkest corner just crossing my fingers that the instructor wouldn’t notice me. It all happened so fast: the staff clipped me into the bike, the music was blasting and all of sudden I was doing push-ups, pedaling for dear life, and trying to catch my breath. The class felt like the longest 45 minutes of my life. I actually threw up in my towel during the class.  I resolutely vowed to never return.
But for some inexplicable reason, I texted two of my girlfriends who joined me at the first class and asked them to try it again the next day. I think that they were as shocked as I was. I had something of a reputation for joining gyms and exercise classes (four times in recent memory, if the truth must be told) and incurring hefty start-up costs and monthly fees — and then rarely, if ever, show up. I was the master of rationalizing, manufacturing endless reasons why I was too busy to work out.
My second class was with Allie Fell. This time, everything just clicked. It was my “Soul moment.” Allie had the best playlist. Her energy combined with her motivational mantras and positive attitude had me hooked. I started to drive every morning from my home in San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge to get my fix with Allie in Marin. Frankly, I think that she was as shocked to see me keep coming back as I was.

Grant with Soul instructor Allie Fell.
I quickly moved to the front row (I didn’t want to hide anymore!), where I could really focus on the beat and watch myself move on the bike in the mirror. I also frequented classes with Ian McAndrew, who helped me fine-tune my bike settings (I am 6-foot-4) and encouraged me to up my weights.
I started going to classes five to seven days a week — and the pounds started dropping off. My friends thought that I had joined a cult and couldn’t understand my new addiction to cycling indoors by candlelight to pounding music! Long gone were my lazy mornings of sleeping in before work. I enjoyed running into friends and clients at Soul; I’ve also made some amazing new friends who have been there with me through this journey. We motivate each other to keep working out. I used to suggest going to brunch on the weekend or having cocktails after work. I have learned that making dates with friends and working out together can be just as much fun.
I have lost over 35 pounds so far and I feel better than I can ever remember. I love having to buy new clothes — and not having to hide under so many layers. I donated my “fat” jeans last week after taking this photo. I am much more aware of how I eat. When I started to see my results pay off in class, I also decided to consult with a nutritionist. I met with Ian (who had just received his nutrition certification), so we meet to review how I could make adjustments. His advice has been invaluable. For the first time in my life I don’t feel like I am on a diet. Some of my favorite go-to foods are: kale, quinoa, eggs, oatmeal, berries, lean proteins, Greek yogurt, almond butter, avocados, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
SoulCycle has been more for me than just a workout. I lost my mother earlier this year and I had so many emotions bottled up inside. I really tried to keep it together and really thought that I had overcome the sadness, but I now realize that my weight and general health were linked to my grief. In a way, SoulCycle has been like therapy to me. I’ve worked out many years of pain and stress (and the weight gain to match.) The dark, candlelit room has allowed me to cry and let out all my emotions, while no one else could see me. I have been able to move on to the next chapter and find some peace.
There were so many times that I just wanted to give up and just walk out of class – literally to throw in the towel. I have been pushed to my limits, achieving greater physical and emotional strength than I ever expected. I can’t thank SoulCyle enough for becoming a community that has transformed me both inside and out. Thanks to the incredible staff at Soul Marin and Soul San Francisco. And a big thank you to instructors Allie, Ian, Lindy Flowers and Jenny Gaither for the support and inspiration that keeps me coming back for more.