Palo Alto’s SoulCycle King

Wellness guru Kamelle Mills gives his advice and encouragement as he leads classes at SoulCycle

Words by Mickey Nelson

Photos by Scott R. Kline

Of course there is no shortage of places to move our bodies and expand our minds offered by the natural topography and climate of the Peninsula. Even so, the benefits of cross-training with variance in your workout routine are many and well-documented. And while solitary hikes and jogs are fantastic, sometimes you’ll crave a bit more community while getting your sweat on. When that craving hits, hit SoulCycle.

Let me preface this with an admission: I am a SoulCycle addict. I go when I’m feeling down to pick myself up and when I’m happy to feel even happier. I go when I’m lethargic to wake myself up and when I’m feeling energetic to dance it out in the dark on a bike that goes nowhere. It’s also why I knew Kamelle Mills—Palo Alto SoulCycle instructor extraordinaire-—was the perfect wellness guru to demonstrate what you’ll come to expect in our Due West section.

Read on and then go #klipinwithkamelle at the Stanford Shopping Center studio. That is, if you aren’t already one of the #kamellionaires.

How did you start at SC? Did you feel called to do it?
Back while living in NYC, I was invited to a SoulCycle community ride! I was scared, apprehensive and reluctant but as soon as I showed up to the studio in NYC, on the corner of 83rd Street and 3rd Avenue, I felt magic in the air. I felt at home. I felt welcomed. I felt my life was about to change forever.

What are some Peninsula locations that feed YOUR soul?
Two of my favorite places are actually on University Ave in Palo Alto.
• HanaHaus (456 University Ave): It’s a workspace and cafe with plenty of room, great vibes and an inspiring ambience. Great for big or small meetings, studying or taking some time for yourself to read or write.
• Local Union 271 (271 University Ave): Great food and amazing wine. The ceilings are high and the love is real. One of my favorite places to eat!

What is your daily routine to take care of your mind and body?
I want to take a moment to testify to the healing powers of NAPS! AMEN! In addition to trying to stay rested (this is something I’m trying to work on; some days are harder than others), when I’m alone I love to simply turn off music, put down my phone, shut the laptop off and just sit. Just sit and feel alive. We strive so hard to live a full life yet we never FEEL it. I want more of that. Sitting and feeling alive.

What is some of the advice/encouragement you give most to your riders?
The hardest lesson I’ve learned is that you have to save yourself. YOU have to take care of YOU. Your mental and physical health, your happiness, your quality of life are all your responsibility—this is terrifying but also exciting. Growing up, it can be perceived that outside sources and external elements are what make you happy; a relationship, a job, gifts or where you live. Those things may be complementary, but joy starts within. You can and should be your own hero. You have to put “S” on your chest and save yourself!

For what reasons ASIDE from well-being do you see people coming to SC?
Community is one of my favorite nuances of SoulCycle. You have a family bound by sweat and tears. You develop relationships that are cultivated in the studio but flourish outside of it as well.

People can get competitive in group fitness—especially with so many experienced and fit riders around the SC studios. How do you advise people to reconcile that with staying true to oneself/listening to your own body/“staying in your own lane”?
There is no competition or judgment in my class. It is incessantly emphasized that we are one team. Moment to moment, beat by beat, push after push, I encourage my #kamellionaires (people who ride with me often/people who #klipinwithkamelle) to cheer on the people around them. I truly believe if we can see strength in the person next to us it forces us to acknowledge strength within ourselves.