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January 21, 2020
The Spark: Talking to Cycle House’s Nichelle Hines

Photograph courtesy of Nichelle Hines

What sparks creativity? Joy? Every week, we talk to cool people who inspire us.

When your spin instructor bails on your class, the last thing you’d expect would be your classmate jumping up to lead the sweat session. But that’s exactly how Cycle House’s co-owner and master instructor Nichelle Hines fell into wellness. The former actress (she has a master’s degree in theater) was out of a job in 2008 during the screenwriters strike. Exercise was a huge part of her life, so she spent her newfound free time at the gym. One fateful day the instructor failed to show up and the next thing Hines knew, she was not only teaching spin but also added to the official schedule.

In 2011 Hines went on to open up Cycle House Los Angeles with her brother Aaron, and has grown it to be one of the most popular fitness spots in the city. Read on to hear about how she uses cannabis for recovery, the best way to have a cheat meal, and why she believes in wellness for all.

On her relationship with cannabis: I‘ve tried topicals in the past to help with aches and pain. I teach 14 classes a week which means I’m working the same muscles constantly and I need something that’ll soothe them. I’ll use it for recovery — anything that helps with my flexibility and keeps me healthy so I can work out hard is important. 

On how she defines wellness: It’s making a true effort to take care of yourself, both inside and out. For me that means journaling, meditating, going to sound baths — I do a little bit of everything and consider myself a spiritualist. If there’s something that connects me to myself and my goals, I’m all for trying it.

The landscape of wellness is changing. I fell into this career 10 years ago and I’m grateful that I can be that person encouraging women to put their health first. The number one cause of death for women of color is heart disease — how do we fix that? It’s by encouraging someone to spend 30 minutes, 3 times a week exercising for health reasons, and not because they need to be a size 2. As the face and co-owner of one of the biggest workout studios in LA, I want to make it approachable and set a good example for my clients.

On the pressures of social media: I’ll post to Instagram stories without any makeup on, straight from class. The only pressure I allow myself to feel at this stage in my life is whether I’m doing something that’s true who I am and what I stand for. I don’t endorse a product I don’t believe in and I’ll never lie to my followers just for a paycheck. 

On her daily routine: If I’m not teaching a 6 a.m. class, I’m up by 6:30 a.m. Upon waking, I open my eyes and think about five things I’m grateful for — it’s changed the way I approach each day. Then I’ll chug a bottle of water next to my bed. I try to drink 100 ounces a day, otherwise I feel sluggish. After that I’ll meditate for 10 minutes using the Calm app, then eat my V Cafe breakfast wrap - it’s a spinach tortilla with egg, turkey bacon, avocado and a bit of cheese. 

Lunch is a big leafy green salad with raw vegetables or steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. I’ll add in chicken, quinoa, lentils or rice for protein and make a dressing out of vinegar. I’m not a big fan of adding oil to my salads, I’d rather save that fat for other meals like my afternoon snack. I like half an avocado with lemon juice, Himalayan sea salt, and pepper flakes with a sliced bell pepper that serves as the “chips”. It helps me through the mid-afternoon slump.

For dinner, I’ll do a huge bowl of broth-based soup like chicken vegetable or kale, sausage one. Otherwise I’ll eat salmon with roasted veggies. I try to get to bed around 10-ish. To prepare, I’ll walk my dog around the block and then draw a bath. I set it up for success: Set the mood with music (that Lionel Ritchie station on Pandora is everything!), pour in bubbles, slap on a face mask, and burn the sage. 

On cheat days: I’m all about it and I schedule that in at least once or twice a week. I’m a huge fan of deep dish pizza, tacos, ice cream, pie, etc. I try to stack it — if I’m meeting friends for drinks, I’ll make sure the meal is just as good. I want to get down and dirty and be done with it. It’s the best way to cheat and not wind up on a binge!  

On recovery: We’re so busy trying to tone our bodies but we need to spend just as much time on recovery. I pride myself for teaching without ever having a hip injury. It’s due to proper technique but also I see a chiropractor once a week and I try to get a massage every two weeks. Whether you’re using CBD, trying lymphatic drainage or acupuncture, it’s all helpful. 

On skincare: I don’t wear makeup when I teach but I’ll do moisturizer and sunscreen. Shani Darden, who is a close friend and incredible esthetician, makes a gentle face cleanser that I’ll use to keep my skin clear. If I have three back-to-back classes, I won’t wash my face in between and instead, I’ll head home (I live nearby) for a quick shower. But I also think that sweat can be good for your skin! You’re getting that steamy, cycling-induced facial and there’s something to it.

On her favorite workout wear: I’m a big fan of cute, functional workout clothes. Depending on my mood, I’ll wear Tory Sport which is very chic and well-designed. Koral makes shiny leggings that are fun and if I want something flashy, Nylora is a cool brand from Korea.

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