5 Spin Classes and Plenty of Wine: A Week in the Life of a Body Cycle Studio Instructor

This week's Sweat Diary.

Jessica Sullivan (right) is an instructor at Body Cycle Studio. Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money it takes to live a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to track everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com with details. 

Who I am: Jessica Sullivan, 30, from Rittenhouse

What I do: I’ve been an in-home personal trainer for eight years in Center City. I’m also the General Manager and an instructor at Body Cycle Studio. I teach between six to eight spin classes per week, manage the studio, and maintain about 25 clients a week.

What health and wellness means to me: I see fitness as being something way beyond a workout or certain diet. I’m passionate that taking care of your physical body nourishes your soul as well. Sometimes your soul needs spinach and sometimes it needs wine.

Wellness memberships: I don’t pay any specific monthly memberships, but I regularly spend $250 to $300 working out per month. I imagine that number would double if I didn’t have access to free classes at Body Cycle Studio. I just like changing it up so much that I can’t commit to one gym.


Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

5 a.m. — My 6 a.m. client canceled at 4 a.m., but I wake up with my alarm before I see the text. I drink warm lemon water and go right back to bed. I went to bed at 10 p.m. and I already feel amazing, so I mostly just lie there smelling my brewing coffee and thinking about 17 emails I need to send. It’s still kind of peaceful. I work every day so I don’t hate Mondays at all.

6:30 a.m. — Get out of bed to make my 7:30 a.m. client in Society Hill. I make my own massive black coffee to go, Saxby’s espresso blend. I used to ride my bike, but a hit and run took me out of commission for a week a year ago and I now happily pay for Uber.

10:30 a.m. — I have a break from clients, run home, start to put together a protein shake and realize my NutriBullet is broken. Massive panic because that’s a morning staple for me. Deep breaths, reconfiguring how to eat before teaching 12:30 p.m. spin at Body Cycle. I like intermittent fasting and don’t usually eat until 12 p.m. but the two days per week I teach noon spin, I like to have something in my stomach besides black coffee. I order a new Bullet on Amazon ($40). I cannot be bothered with a warranty situation I just need to correct this mishap. I work on my playlist.

11:28 a.m. — I remember I’m stressed over not eating and eat half of an apple, head over to the studio. I pick up a Saxby’s coffee ($2.27) along the way. Always black.

2:15 p.m. — Class was a bunch of regulars, so I could join in on a few watt maxes for a change. I am so hungry! No clients until 4 so I make myself a salad of kale, spinach, half of an avocado, and Morningstar veggie sausage. I drench my salad in dressing because I LOVE Tessamae’s Zesty Ranch dressing and it’s super clean. The veggie sausage isn’t perfect on ingredients, but I love it and I don’t care.

Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

5:30 p.m. — I teach spin at BCS. It’s so good. I play all of my new favorite rap songs and we laugh and sweat and my legs are on fire.

7 p.m. — My last client, I’m almost asleep.

8:15 p.m. — Home, I set up my WiFi even though I am super hungry.

8:30 p.m. — I drink sleepy time tea while I take an Epsom salt bath. I apply essential oils to my heart and wrists that my client Annette gave me to get through the winter drudge.

9 p.m. — I have a cup of miso soup with rice. It’s from a packet and I bought the box with the intention of drinking miso soup for breakfast a month ago based on something I read. This dinner is blah. I watch Lovesick on Netflix for about twenty minutes and fall asleep.

Daily total: $42.27


Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

5 a.m. — Wake up on my first alarm buzz — a win for me. My regular 6:15 a.m. instructor worried (rightly so) the night before about driving in from the ‘burbs on the ice, so I have canceled my morning clients to cover for her. Double bummer though because I have jury duty after, and I won’t be able to make them up today. I drink two large cups of black coffee, one at home and one on my way to the studio.

6:15 a.m. — Spin class. My legs are starting to feel alive again. Epsom salt baths are everything.

7:25 a.m. — I am home and rushing to get ready for jury duty. I am reminded I have little to no real clothing. I put on my “nice” black stretch pants and a sweatshirt that says “pets are people too” and opt for sneakers. This is as professional as I can be in twenty minutes.

7:45 a.m. — OMG I forgot my Magic Bullet is broken. Noooooooo!

7:46 a.m. — I make myself a treat because I AM NOW HAVING A HARD DAY. About one third of a banana, a scoop of raw almond butter, and a sprinkle of coconut flakes. I heat it for 30 seconds in the microwave and now it’s warm, delicious mush.

I remember that I’m sacrificing my own hustle today to perform my civic duty and I sprinkle some vegan chocolate chips on my mush as a reward. That’s better. Against my better judgment I sip more coffee while I eat it.

8:52 a.m. —  I am at jury duty and I am so wired I can’t sit still. I keep giving my seat to people so I have a chance to move. The woman in charge has asked me if I’m okay twice and suggested I sit down. I remember that I miss my friend Lisa O’Rear SO much and I sign up to take her Vinyasa Hot Flow at 7:15 p.m. tonight at Priya ($17). I actually hate yoga and the only handful of classes I take are all with Lisa.

Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

12:45 p.m. — Jury duty lunchtime. I beeline for Tredici and I order my favorite thing on the menu, a cold avocado and broccoli salad that is amazing. I decide I’m hungry enough to eat something else and order Brussels sprouts too ($23). This is the best part of my day, 100%. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this as I was told to return to jury duty, but I had a glass of wine. In my defense, someone sent it over without asking.

7:15 p.m. — Lisa yoga! It’s so hard. I don’t yoga enough. Every time I go I have to start over. I snuggle Lisa on the couch a little after because she’s my favorite and I make her take a sweaty pic with me. We are both too tired to take a cooler photo.

9:15 p.m. — I arrive home. I have leftovers from lunch, YES!!!

Daily total: $40


Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

5 a.m. — Wake up, warm lemon water. (For the record, I do this in winter because it feels good. Aside from maybe assisting in pH balance I don’t see any real value in it except it’s a nice routine when you get out of a warm bed and helps me drink water before coffee). I drink black coffee and head to my first three clients around town.

9:15 a.m. — I am leaving a client’s home on Washington Square and I call a girlfriend to catch up. She tells me she’s walking around the square and I almost dance with excitement. We meet up, grab Venti dark roasts from Starbucks ($4) and walk and talk for about 45 minutes before I head to WeWork at 19 and Market to meet with Russell, my boss — owner of Body Cycle Studio — and one of my favorite humans.

10:25 a.m. —I pick up a Buzzed shake at Sip-N-Glo ($9.67). Then I drink a cup of La Colombe coffee with Russell, free for WeWork members.

1:30 p.m. — I have a 1:30 p.m. client in the Gayborhood. On my way home, I stop into Rittenhouse Market for produce. I am craving vitamin C so I buy oranges and tangerines, stock up on bananas and apples, then find my favorite fake meat product in the frozen section, Quorn! I buy three bags of Quorn “Chik’n” tenders. Odds and ends for cooking, it all totals $53. This is good for the week for me.

3 p.m. — I microwave some Quorn and toss it into a salad of spinach, carrots, tomatoes, add a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of balsamic.

4 p.m. — Clients, then a 5:30 p.m. spin class. I teach a hill ride, and while I don’t go out all in the bike, I’m in almost-excruciating pain from planking for the better part of 75 minutes the night before in yoga. I make a mental note to attend yoga more regularly.

7 p.m. — Dinner date inside where it’s warm! So amazing not to leave my building. We order Sabrina’s and I have a generous pour of a Pino Noir (bottle is $24). My date pays for my ultimate Caesar salad (I use my own vegan Caesar dressing from Whole Foods) and the Mediterranean plate I helped devour.

Daily total: $90.67


Quorn “Chik’n” tenders

6 a.m. — I bring coffee up to the gym for my 6:30 a.m. client, and we discuss how cold the day looks. I drink as much water as I can stand. The coffee tastes better. Afterwards, I half run over to the Murano, then back, then the Murano again (most of my clients live there).

11:45 a.m. — My doorman calls me because my NutriBullet is downstairs! Finally! This is my favorite shake. I’m not working out until 5 p.m. (I don’t do high fat around workouts) so I toss half of an avocado into my favorite chocolate vegan protein powder (I often use Vega-One. I use all kinds of vegan protein powder, this is just what I have this week). Coconut milk, almond butter, drop of vanilla, dash of now-cooled coffee from the pot. So good. I eat it with a spoon.

12 p.m. — More clients. I am super tired

1 p.m. — Another cup of coffee before I sit down to work on playlists and email instructors about incorporating watts into their classes in anticipation of a new app we are rolling out to members soon. It’s a little technical and I needed this coffee. I have joked with clients for a long time that if I had to give up coffee or wine it wouldn’t even be a thought. This is 100 percent true. Caffeine is everything.

Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

5 p.m. — First time ever going to Fit Academy! I sign up because one of my best friends lives in Brewerytown and I love trying new things. Osayi is doing a special three-class pass for FREE this month. Added bonus. If there is one thing I do not mind spending money on, it’s a workout. I feel semi-guilty for taking the free option.

6:30 p.m. — Two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc at Flying Fish with Ronit and her husband, but it’s not my fault. It was Troy’s birthday yesterday. My portion of the bill was only $15 and I wonder why I don’t get out of Rittenhouse more often.

9 p.m. — I get home and I am way too tired to eat, so I make myself a second shake, but with more almond butter and no avocado. I know, this is lame.

Daily total: $15


Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

5:15 a.m. — Wakeup, I do my routine warm lemon water. I am so hungry. I eat a tangerine, and I also drink an Airborne.

12 p.m. — Clients until noon, then I run over to BCS to teach 12:30 spin. It’s really fun, but I’m already looking forward to tonight’s class more because I love rap and I can only play it 100 percent in my own special Explicit class, which is every Friday Happy Hour.

1:30 p.m. — I am so hungry I devour a green apple and have a handful of dry-roasted mixed nuts from Trader Joe’s. I want to eat so much more, but I have therapy at 3 p.m. so I shower and go.

3 p.m. — Therapy helps me get my head on a little tighter. This is at least as important as my workouts and diet in terms of wellness.

6:45 p.m. — I go home and prepare a new playlist for tomorrow and review my client plans for the next week. I shower quickly, then pour myself an Epsom salt bath with bubbles and lavender and I order Wizkid on my phone while I soak my now-aching body (thank you, Fit Academy). I order a Yucatán Chopped Salad and a Whizkid (vegan cheesesteak) and happily pay $6.02 to have it delivered to my door about 60 seconds after I finish my bath ($26.52). I remember that I am super hungry and I add a half cup of Quorn to my salad. It’s so insanely good.

Photograph courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

I go to bed planning our Body Cycle Studio shoot the next day. It wasn’t a perfect or beautifully organized week of eating but it was pretty typical. Salads, wine, lots of spin!

Daily total: $26.52

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $214.46

Cups of coffee: 9

Spin classes taught: 5

Workouts done: 2

Healthy shakes: 3

Glasses of wine: 4

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