Anna Deavere Smith: Where Exercise Becomes Religion

January 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm


Trainer MB Regan works her triceps using a stationary bike for leverage. Soul Cycle classes combine traditional spinning with movements that work the upper body. Photo courtesy of Anna Deavere Smith.

Soul Cycle is a must-do. It’s basically a spin class infused with upper body workouts set to great music — a lot of high-energy eighties stuff. It’s totally exhausting. Everyone is cramped in a tiny room together, but it’s fun. It’s like a party at 7 in the morning!

It’s especially cool for me because a lot of the instructors have performing arts backgrounds. My favorite instructor is MB Regan, who is a lifelong athlete and dancer. She’s toured with the National Shakespeare Company and started her own off-Broadway show. Something about that experience has taught her how to turn exercise into a religious experience.


Anna Deavere Smith is an award-winning playwright, actress and NYU professor. Let Me Down Easy,” her latest one-woman show, deals with health care and was broadcast on WNET in Jan. 2012. She has appeared in numerous television series and films, including “The West Wing” and “Nurse Jackie.”

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