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The most underrated wellness practice, according to the CEO of SoulCycle


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Photo: SoulCycle

Welcome to My Morning Routine, where Melanie Whelan and other good-life gurus share their personal (frequently surprising, often healthy) morning rituals—to help you make your a.m.’s more awesome.

Melanie Whelan
CEO of SoulCycle and mother of two

I usually wake up between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.—all depending on how noisy my husband and kids are in the kitchen. We’re a family of early risers, so I only use an alarm when I’m traveling. (My kids are on wake-up patrol.)

This may sound crazy, but I usually spend the first 15 minutes of my morning checking my email and it seriously sets my day off right. By skimming through everything first thing, I can be truly present for my kids’ morning routine and drop-off—and not trying to do two things at once. Presence is such an underrated wellness habit that I try to practice it constantly. 

I don’t take any vitamins, but I do always have a glass of citrus-infused sparkling water. It’s so refreshing, and I feel like it helps flush out my system.

Depending on my day, my beauty routine is really as low-maintenance as humanly possible. I take a hot shower, wash, and moisturize—I love Sunday Riley’s U.F.O. facial oil—and if I’m feeling it, I’ll add a little mascara. Given how much time I spend in the studios, I keep it pretty low-key.

I also always make sure that every bed is made, every pajama is folded away, every dish in the sink is clean, and all of the counters are wiped down before I walk out the door. Call it OCD, but I’m obsessed with keeping our home tidy every day—otherwise by Friday, the place looks like a tornado hit it.

Then, I’m usually out the door with a banana on the run. I can’t start my day without a Starbucks Cold Brew—a grande in a venti cup with extra ice and a splash of coconut milk. It lasts all morning.

I always try to drop my kids off at school if I’m not traveling and then head to a studio to take a class before I get to the office. I love to visit all of the studios in New York City and take classes with different instructors. If I’m traveling to a city where we have a SoulCycle, I spend as much time as possible in the studios—chatting with our front desk teams, meeting riders, and (of course) taking a class. (And, I always stay for the stretch!)

I joke that we should have pens and notepads next to the bikes because I get all of my best ideas when I ride. It’s sometimes tough to wake up and get out of bed, but once I’m up and in class, I feel so accomplished—and the rest of my day is so much more productive.

It’s also worth noting that my weekend morning routine is completely different. I make a mean stack of pancakes and according to my kids “the world’s best scrambled eggs.” Another place I try to be totally present? When my kids compliment my mediocre cooking skills.

To help you take on your early-morning workouts like Whelan, try Jessica Alba’s genius tip for early a.m. motivation. And here’s a hack to boost your productivity à la the SoulCycle CEO.