Transformation

I Lost Over 100 Pounds Doing SoulCycle. Now I Teach 7 Soul Classes a Week.

One Philadelphian's transformation story.

Photographs courtesy Denita Banks.

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one Philadelphian’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com.

Who: Denita Banks, 30, a SoulCycle instructor from Center City

Starting weight: 260

Ending weight: “I stopped weighing myself awhile ago because it makes me nuts. My last doctor’s visit said I was 163.”

How long it’s taken: “I lost the majority of my weight in 2013-2015 and now I’m in maintenance mode.”

Why I wanted to change: “I had gone through a rough few years and gained back a lot of weight that I had previously lost. In 2013 I lost my mother and it made me sit down and really think about my life. I was miserable, overweight, unhappy at my job, and I realized that I was going to die if I continued down the road I was on. I had lost weight in the past in an unhealthy way so I decided that this time I was going to focus on getting healthy and happy.”

How I changed my exercise routine: “When I first started, I did exercise programs that I hated because I didn’t know that working out could be fun. I would do HIIT programs at home two to four times a week because I didn’t have a gym membership and I was too embarrassed to go to the gym. It wasn’t until I found indoor cycling at SoulCycle did I realize that working out could be fun! Currently I teach at least seven classes at Soul and I’m on the megaformer at SLT two to three times a week, but my workout schedule is ever changing. I like to keep my body guessing. [Before becoming an instructor,] I was riding every single day, multiple times a day just to make sure that I could keep up and also hit the gym as well. At least seven times a week, but usually more.”

Photographs courtesy Denita Banks.

How I changed my diet: “I’ve always tried different things with the way that I eat. If anything ever feels too limiting or restrictive, then I stop because I’m trying to make lifestyle choices and I want them to be sustainable. Right now, I eat a mostly plant-based diet but sometimes I eat cheese because life’s too short!”

How I went from client to instructor: “I always wanted to be an instructor but I was scared because I didn’t have the ‘perfect body.’ SoulCycle is the main thing that helped me lose weight, it was the only place I felt comfortable and it kicked started my transformation. In 2015, I took a job at SoulCycle on the cleaning staff just to have a fun second job and to be able to afford classes. I kept quiet about wanting to audition out of fear — but kept it in the back of my mind as I worked my way up from cleaning staff to key holder. As I started to take more classes and make connections with instructors I was encouraged to audition and tell my story. Almost three years later, here I am on the podium!”

“It wasn’t until I found indoor cycling at SoulCycle did I realize that working out could be fun!”

What else changed: “My entire life has changed because I had to change my mind about who I was and what I was capable of before I could lose the weight! I had to believe in myself and trust myself as I went on this journey and that’s been the huge difference! Sure I’m stronger, more energized, and 100 percent happier — but the best part of this journey has been seeing my own mental growth.”

The hardest part: “I’m constantly having to relearn things about my body and myself and how I function best. I just had to say goodbye to drinking red wine — so that was an interesting one.:

What’s next: “I’m happy where I am but I’m also excited to see where I can go. I have some loose skin I’d like to tighten, but I lost 110 pounds, so I’m not complaining! My goal now is strength and seeing how strong I can get! #StrongNotSkinny”

What I want you to know“Your current situation isn’t permanent unless you want it to be.”

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