Not Even a Pandemic Can Stop Ryan Lewis’s Taylor Swift Fitness Week
The fourth iteration of the popular Philly studio cycling week is a “folklore”-inspired combo of virtual and outdoor classes.
Don’t despair. Your excessive replaying of “the 1,” “exile,” and “the last great american dynasty” has finally come to good use. All the delightfully monochrome emotive yearning you could ever hope for in a surprise Taylor album (featuring Bon Iver and The National’s Aaron Dessner for extra sad-boy indie cred) is now … a spin class!
Workouts themed by celebrity artists have always been popular in Philly, but certain local fitness community members stand out for their dedication to particular artists — in this case, the diehard Swifties: Ryan Lewis, a popular SoulCycle and Barry’s Philadelphia instructor, and his business partner, Alyson Leonard, a video editor.
Be Well Philly covered Lewis’ Taylor-Swift-themed SoulCycle classes back in September of 2019, a more innocent time when the workouts were based on the technicolor pop beats of the “Lover” album. 2020 Taylor Swift Week, on the other hand, is inspired by her “folklore” album — soft, dreary melodies and grayscale artwork included — though the week will span her entire discography.
“This is, as you can predict, our first virtual Taylor Swift Week,” Lewis says, “I never saw myself bringing my favorite week of the year to digital. I thought the spirit of the week could never translate over a WiFi connection, and that it was an event meant only for classes in a studio. After ‘folklore’ was quickly released, I thought, if she can pump out an album in quarantine, we can do Taylor Swift Week, too.”
This fourth version is happening through local virtual workout studio, The RYD3, co-founded by Lewis and Leonard, rather than SoulCycle. The RYD3 offers virtual cycling, strength and conditioning classes. (And no, Lewis doesn’t have any news to share regarding the opening of Philly’s Barry’s or SoulCycle outposts yet.) The Taylor Swift week is composed of 20 virtual and in-person fitness classes set to the music of Taylor Swift, culminating on Saturday, August 8th, with three back-to-back outdoor classes outside of Lincoln Financial Field.
A portion of the proceeds from the week of virtual classes is being donated to Natural High, a drug prevention program that works to help young people discover core activities in their lives that inspire them in order to help them find a “natural high” rather than turning to alcohol or drugs.
The closing event will feature outdoor 45-minute cycling classes at The Linc’s Lot K, where riders will be following CDC and social distancing guidelines. The classes will be taught by Lewis, with music by DJ V-Money. All of the profits from the outdoor classes will be donated to Eagles Fight Autism.
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Lewis is hopeful that bringing back his signature event will help return some normalcy and energy to a fitness community that continues to struggle in the mist of COVID-19.
“During a time where in-person events are few and far to come by, we hope that the good cause and the gathering of the Philadelphia community will help people,” Lewis said, “I’m hoping everyone will feel as I have felt the past two days … like myself again. I cannot thank everyone who has shown up so far enough. The only thing that is different is the way things look right now — the community has taught me that everything can feel the way it used to. All you have to do is simply choose to feel it that way. You have to choose to believe that we can return to the feeling that used to invigorate our days.”