Find Your Soul

high on sweat textPostdoctoral training is rigorous and time-consuming. The emotional and physical implications of residency and fellowship call for trainees to take what little time they do have to participate in enjoyable activities that keep them going. As co-residents at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, we found the popular indoor cycling class, SoulCycle, to be our go-to wellness activity. Since our intern year, we have been arranging meet-ups at the music-blaring, sweat-dripping, lights-flashing dark room that is SoulCycle. Now, carrying on into our separate fellowships, we still find time to enjoy a 45-minute jam and cycle “sesh.”

Burnout is defined as “long-term unresolvable job stress that leads to exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed, cynical, detached from the job and lacking a sense of personal accomplishment1.”  Emergency Medicine is a field facing a tremendous burnout problem. In the most recent Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression and Suicide report1, Emergency Medicine ranked among the top specialties for burnout with a rate of 48%, the 5th most specialty. Females in particular were found to have higher burnout than their male counterparts, at a rate of 50% compared with 39%.

Postdoctoral training programs and health systems across the nation are trying out various wellness initiatives to combat burnout2, including apps and audio recordings of mindfulness meditations that often carry encouraging messages. However, the nature of our field makes mindfulness a pitiful bandage over the gaping wound that is often caused by a stressful work environment. Unfortunately, we felt it did little to alleviate our stress. Tapping it back on a bike, however, seemed to work.

It started our intern year. We heard rumblings about a new SoulCycle studio that opened in downtown Philadelphia and became interested in learning more about spinning and the culture and atmosphere that SoulCycle reportedly provided. We were both in the midst of busy Emergency Medicine and Critical Care rotations and needed a form of stress relief. We found a day where we happened to be free of clinical duties and decided to give it a try.

From the moment we entered the studio, we were greeted by warm smiles from the staff and the scent of soothing grapefruit candles, quite the soulcycle friendsopposite of back-to-back traumas and the distinct odor of gastrointestinal bleeds. We recognized that we were extremely privileged to care for these patients, but simultaneously desired the privilege to unwind.

We put on those alien spinning shoes (which are so awkward to walk in!) and headed to our bikes in the dark studio where we were greeted with phrases like “warrior” and “pack” on the walls. In residency training, where you often feel isolated and weak, these seemed so at odds to what we were used to. The instructor and staff got us started by setting up our bikes and off we went, dancing on our bikes to the beat of the music. The feelings within the room as we synced our movements were exhilarating. The energy radiated from the instructor stage and it felt like doors were opening to a bright new world, so different from our lives at the hospital. We felt strong and confident, and now a part of the SoulCycle culture of positivity. We both left the studio feeling rejuvenated, motivated and ready for the next class.

Thus began our wellness routine. We were not able to attend very often due to our crazy schedules while in residency, but whenever things got really stressful, we would just text the other: “Soul?”  We made the time. The next thing we knew, residency graduation came and went. Luckily, we both stayed in Philadelphia for fellowship, one in Medical Toxicology and the other in Medical Education. Despite our similarly hectic schedules, we still make time for ourselves, together at the SoulCycle studio.

Disclaimer:  This is the opinion of the authors. The authors are not related to SoulCycle, nor do they receive compensation from the company or its affiliates.


1. Kane, Leslie. Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019. Medscape Emergency Medicine. [] Accessed November 26, 2019.

2. National Academy of Medicine, Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience. []  Accessed November 26, 2019.

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