Adult summer camps, complete with expert guides, gourmet meals and happy hours, are the next big wellness trend. Here’s how Pursuit Series Co-founder Julia Stamps-Mallon turned her idea into a sold-out outdoors festival.
Right after our first set of intervals, as I gasped for air amid encouragement from instructor Laura Crago, I thought well, gym cycling classes are toast. After more than a year in a development by a team of master instructors, SoulCycle launched its new SoulActivate class on Tuesday, February 27. And it is a bitch (but in that I DID IT AND NOW I CAN DO ANYTHING kind of way).
Less about the sweaty playfulness and clubby choreography that put SoulCycle on the map, the hour-long, HIIT-style Activate class is the answer to critics who say Soul rides aren't scientifically optimal training for the cardiac system—a number of competing gyms and cycling studios have long focused on "smarter" programming that centers on increasing heart rate and strength training. Now, with an aggressive studio expansion and a following of veteran riders who could complete the traditional SoulCycle class in their sleep, the company is upping its game with the addition of this endurance-building class in studios throughout the Bay Area, New York, and Los Angeles.
The class begins as usual, with a warm-up song and a series of climbs and sprints with the brand's signature tap-back and push-up movements. At about minute 20, though, things took a more serious turn.
An extended weight-training session gave our legs a break but worked our arms using multiple, heavier weights than Soul's traditional rides. And then our instructor sprang it on us that we were in for some gnarly HIIT.
"This is how Olympic athletes train!" Crago shouted, pumping us up. "Pushing your heart rate as hard as you can, followed by real rest, is proven to make you a stronger rider, make you faster, make you better."
At what would have been halfway through a standard SoulCycle ride, we began a series of six intervals, turning up the resistance on our bikes until it felt like pedaling in quicksand. We spun as hard as we could for 20 seconds, then took a one-minute rest, our legs completely still, our chests heaving. After each run, Crago marked the number of sprints we'd completed on a whiteboard behind her; after the first, my legs felt thoroughly worked, my lungs like they were going to explode; after the sixth and final run, I felt like someone really should be handing me a medal.
After a brief reprieve sprinting on a lighter load, we rolled into a second set of intervals. I think I laughed as Crago announced what was coming—I'd barely finished that last set alive. (At this point in the class, a normal 45-minute ride would be over and I would be halfway down the street grabbing protein waffles at Project Juice.) But she wasn't joking, and we instead embarked on a series of eight sprints, 20 seconds each with just 10 seconds off. I honestly don't know how I made it through, but once we moved onto our final sprint song, I was high on my own oxygen and would do whatever she asked.
It's important to note that this class is definitely not for noobs: SoulCycle recommends riders take at least 10 standard classes before signing up for Activate. For experienced riders who already incorporate SoulCycle into a weekly fitness regime, the brand advises taking the new class about two times per week. For myself, I think once a week, as a way to really test and push my cardio system, is plenty ambitious.
Prices vary per market, more info at soul-cycle.com.
Parsley Health celebrates its first year of functional medicine in the Bay Area with an educational fete.
Parsley Health SF, the only functional medicine clinic whose offices are located within WeWork, is turning one on December 5. If you're in the Bay Area, everyone's invited to pop by that day to listen to founder Dr. Robin Berzin talk microbiomes (gut bacteria) and biohacking (DIY 'hacks' to optimize your health) while they sip on a bulletproof matcha latte. But what is Parsley? When I heard that the super-buzzy New York-based organization, a pioneering mind-body medical practice, had quietly opened a San Francisco outpost soon after its LA location, I signed right up for a full new-patient intake. As a person who works in the wellness industry, I regularly meditate, run and spend more time than normal in Bay Area boutique-fitness studios. But I haven't had an old-fashioned check up since SoulCycle hit the West Coast (ahem, 2013).
Ahead of my visit, I filled out a mountain of new patient paperwork on personal and family health, using a digital-patient portal. During our hourlong-plus visit, Dr. Tiffany Lester reviewed my medical history (and my family's) in detail, not leaving any mind-body stone unturned, before she performed a basic physical exam. After my visit, she recommended some baseline testing (blood panels, cortisol screening) to get a data-based overview of my health.
Parsley acts as a primary-care office, and you can talk to your doctor in person or online regarding everything from testing questions to prescription refills. On average, traditional doctors' offices write a prescription for 70 percent of visits, while Parsley's doctors only write an Rx 10 percent of the time. Their goal is to treat patients holistically for total mind-body health through regular doctor's visits, dietary recommendations, vitamin supplementation and a robust health-coaching system. Rather than writing prescriptions, Parsley physicians might write a recommendation for a meditation class or acupuncturist, therapist or fitness classes.
This holistic approach to health is available exclusively to Parsley members who fork out $1600 to $1800 per year for membership. Included is an initial 75-minute visit with a doctor like the one I had, followed by biomarker testing that could include in-home tests and blood work to asses a baseline for health, and then a second 60-minute doctor visit and three additional 30-minute visits to assess progress. In practice that lengthy first session felt like a huge departure from my previous annual check-ups. The average traditional doctor spends around 15 minutes with patients, while the average Parsley visit is 50 minutes - they have time to dig into everything. After that biomarker testing, members receive five health coaching sessions over 12 months, in-person or digitally, with a staffer trained in functional nutrition to create a game plan to put into practice what the doctor recommended. Together between the Parsley team, members receive a seven-part health plan to optimize health at every level - diagnostic testing, mental health, fitness, nutrition, coaching, supplementation and coaching support. Beyond the office, members can access Parsley Perks in the patient portal that include discounts on all supplements and protein powders they sell, as well as access to wellness partners including free Headspace and Thrive Market memberships.
Just last month they launched a Parsley Assessment for commitment phobes that, for $500, packs in what would cost around $2,500 at a traditional clinic: a 75-minute intake, biomarker blood tests, a seven-part map to health, a 45-minute meeting with a health coach and access to the members-only perks program. And for those who can't get enough functional medicine support, Parsley has also launched a Premium Membership that includes additional visits with the doctor and nutrition coach, as well as 'priority visits and messaging'.
If you, like me, haven't been to the doctor in ages because you hate waiting rooms and someone throwing prescriptions at you in between the five other patients they need to see in the next ten minutes, Parsley's whole person approach might be for you. // 8am and 5pm, Dec 5th, RSVP for Parsley events at eventbrite.com, parsleyhealth.com