Exercise might be anathematic to Lena Dunham’s character on Girls, but the 26-year-old mastermind behind the HBO series has a very different take on working up a sweat. Dunham keeps plenty busy writing, directing and starring in her show, in addition to other projects, like her role in Judd Apatow’s forthcoming film This Is 40. But when she really wants to get moving, she heads to SoulCycle. The swank spinning studio, which opened in 2006 and has branches across Manhattan, in the Hamptons and in West Hollywood, offers preternaturally popular classes that draw in fitness freaks such as Katie Holmes, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anderson Cooper.
What’s got the fit and famous clamoring to ride bikes that don’t move? SoulCycle’s blend of spinning, weights and core exercises is one part of the equation. The other part is candle-lit classes, high-energy playlists and instructors with diehard followings. The combination inspires fervent devotion: Dunham celebrated her recent birthday by dragging a group of friends to a class, and Lady Gaga is said to have SoulCycle bikes on her tour bus. Dunham explains why this particular workout gets her wheels spinning.
When did you first hop onto a spinning bike?
In December 2011. I knew I needed to do something with this bag of bones for stress reasons, and I’d heard vague murmurs about the cult of SoulCycle.
You’ve got a lot on your plate. How often are you able to get to a spinning class?
If I have time, I’ll do four a week, one of them a double! When I’m shooting my show it’s more like two, with a constant craving.
What is it you love most about spinning? And what’s your least favorite part of the workout?
My favorite parts are the music, motivational speeches that would usually annoy me but don’t and the way I feel when it’s done. My least favorite thing: I literally sweat from my lips.
What do you like to wear to sweat in a classroom full of people?
Some days I really turn it out and kind of dress like an exercise Mad Max. I had a SoulCycle birthday party and my choice of look involved several shopping trips—I settled on some hot pink Adidas by Stella McCartney. But some days I am wearing my mom’s yoga pants and a massive sleep T-shirt and I don’t even feel judged.
What would be worse for you, forgetting your socks or forgetting your bra?
Socks! All the way! My breasts are kind of small and immovable—it’s their one true advantage.
How often do you fake it and not turn the resistance dial when the teacher commands you to?
I’m gonna go with 35 percent of the time. I always turn it, but I sometimes turn it back. We do what we have to do! It’s always easier to work out with a friend.
What makes a good SoulCycle buddy?
Earnest enthusiasm (no snarky irony here!) and no whispering between bikes (I can’t hear you and I don’t want to). I don’t care about your skill level so long as you’re pumped.
What songs get you going?
“Talk That Talk” by Rihanna and Jay-Z, “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn, “One Foot” by Fun., “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, “The Girl You Lost to Cocaine” by Sia.
On a scale of 1 to 5, how sweaty are you at the end of an average class?
I’m usually a 5. I mean, I look like I showered. I feel like I showered. I have forgotten to shower as a result and just gone about my day as if I washed my hair.
SoulCycle classes are known for attracting both male and female devotees. How do you deal with the presence of cute guys in class?
I’m not usually in that place emotionally, but since I perfected my on-the-bike hair flip, I am feeling bolder in all respects.
Have you ever been picked up in a class?
Not even close. I don’t think I’m the one you’d hone in on in that context, unless you had some kind of fetish for girls who look 17 seconds away from death.
Photo: Getty Images