Fifty Shades of Great

SoulCycle’s founding senior master instructor feels amazing in her fifth decade.

By Stacey Griffith

If you would have asked me 30 years ago how I thought I would look when I turned 50 in 2018, I probably would have told you something completely opposite to how I actually look today. If you asked me in my 30s how I would feel in my 50s, I would have most likely answered “old.” There is an explanation for why I feel 35 in my 50s. It is one that is also backed up by scientific evidence that exercise pauses the aging process, and for sure a set of great genes and fresh telomeres are what I owe to my amazing state of being. When I was younger I was a crazy athlete, but that doesn’t mean that because you weren’t an athlete you can’t also feel young when you eventually reach the big 5-0. Exercise to me was natural—pushing my body, running extremely long distances at 10 years old. Running cross-country in high school, swimming, playing basketball and softball were normal, 12 months a year. I was nonstop. At the same time, I grew up with a single mom who was super into self-care. We masked every week at home. Paying for facials wasn’t a thing in our house. We completely DIY’d everything: egg whites painted onto faces on Tuesdays, avocado mash on Fridays, lemons in the hair on the weekends, coconut oil on the skin for moisture, and sleep, lots of sleep.

Turning 50 for me has been emotionally challenging. I’m finding that the more time I spend with myself, the deeper I feel connected to my person. I see so many people everyday that when I get home, it’s important for me to decompress, to release the energy I have taken on from my students, to rest, refuel, and be. My 20s were complete discovery. In my 30s, I honed in on my career path, partied and traveled on a budget. I had a career boon in my 40s, and learned how to co-parent. My 50s is uncharted territory, but with a secure feeling that whatever direction life takes me, my experience and sobriety can handle it. What I know for sure (I learned from Oprah) is that there is no doubt life is one gigantic test of love and patience. Aging is the most awesome thing, so long as you exercise (stellar wisdom from my 99-year-old grandma). The closer you get to 50, the better you are.