Eating and exercising are two of my favorite things in the world. I get up at the crack of dawn 6 days a week to get my sweat on, partially because I love the way it makes me feel, but also, quite honestly, because it enables me to be flexible with my diet, and to indulge in sweets and treats when I want to. I’m fortunate to have found a really great balance between the two, so when that plate of fries comes calling, I welcome it with open arms. We all have our weaknesses right?
Another weakness of mine is brunch. It’s arguably my favorite meal to eat out at a restaurant, because it’s completely acceptable to eat sweet and savory dishes side by side, while indulging in an adult beverage, at a very leisurely pace. Brunch is a fun meal, and getting together with the Boston Brunchers is always sure to be a good time. So imagine my delight when Renee announced an exercise and brunch duo event! And we weren’t just talking any exercise, but SoulCycle. As someone who was previously a SoulCycle newbie, I’d heard plenty and always wanted to give it a try, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself… until a couple of weekends ago!
Photo credit: SoulCycle
If you’ve never heard of or tried SoulCycle, it’s basically a spin class on steroids… in the best way possible. They have SoulCycle studios across New York and California, but the location we visited in Chestnut Hill was brand new. Our instructor, Molly, was actually brought in from LA to help open this new location, and right away I could see why — she was full of energy, enthusiasm, and a touch of crazy. I think the last part if key if you’re a SoulCycle-r — teacher or rider!
The studio is small — just a reception area, a small locker area, and the spin studio. They have specially designed bikes that are equipped with small hand weights, which get incorporated into the ride. I’m an avid spinner and road bike rider to begin with, but I found the class to be a great workout, and loads of fun. There’s a big emphasis on finding a connection to your center, and mindfulness — similar in my mind to the internal connections you make through yoga, except on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The music was great — nothing really mainstream, but always with a great beat, and super motivating. I have to say, I absolutely loved it, and would absolutely go back again!
After cycling, we headed a couple of doors down to Brio, where we were treated to a family-style brunch. I knew little about Brio before attending — only that it was new to the area, and a chain restaurant with many other locations across the US. As someone who tends to go for local places whenever given the opportunity, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was actually very pleasantly surprised. All of the food was delicious, fresh, and not too heavy. Sometimes brunch leaves me feeling weighed down, but I didn’t feel that way at all after eating at Brio. We started with a giant platter of fresh fruit salad and a simple bread basket, then tried a couple of different benedicts (one with ham, one with turkey sausage), a turkey and sweet potato hash, and berries and cream french toast.
I had one of the ham benedicts, which layered a hunk of thick cut ham, a perfectly poached egg, and luscious, creamy hollandaise sauce over a light and flaky buscuit. It had just the right proportions so that each bite was loaded with flavor. I also tried some of the hash, which was hearty and filling. It was also packed with veggies, which was a welcome addition after the benedict! The French toast was also really yummy — no frills, just delish. It was filled with just the right amount of mascarpone cream cheese, dusted with cinnamon, and served with syrup and fresh berries. I don’t think the syrup was real, pure maple syrup – a pet peeve of mine at restaurants — but that didn’t stop my from enjoying every last bit of it. To drink, I had a Bloody Mary, which I found to be a bit too salty for my taste, and I barely got halfway through it. It definitely wasn’t lacking flavor though!
SoulCycle and Brio are both located in the new Chestnut Hill Square, along with the very popular Wegman’s (which I was sure to check out before I left that day). It’s a really great close-knit little shopping area, with the Chestnut Hill Mall right across Rt. 9. I don’t frequent Chestnut Hill, merely for accessibility reasons, but I definitely think I’ll be making a trip back! I can’t wait to give SoulCycle another try… and perhaps the patio and happy hour food specials at Brio.
Disclaimer: Both the SoulCycle class and brunch at Brio were provided to my free of charge through my associated with Boston Brunchers. As always, opinions expressed here are all my own.