Leading up to our fifth (you read that right—FIFTH!) Linked Not Ranked event, we chatted with Melanie Griffith—this year's class leader and a kickass Master Instructor & Director of Instructor Development at SoulCycle—about her 180 career change, finding life's balance, and what the #LinkedNotRanked movement means to her.

She's developed a cult following in her 8 years as an instructor—and for good reason. Her infectious personality and empowering attitude inspire you to be the best version of yourself. Which is why she's the perfect person to be leading 2017's first #LinkedNotRanked event! Here, we go a little bit deeper with this rockstar... 

Important questions first: What's your #1 most used emoji?

I do love emoji speak... For sure the MOST used emoji is a heart. All the colors. I'm a love junkie... But I also can't get through a day without the happy face with the glasses. #readingglasses

Where do you call home?

New York City is home. I moved here 30 years ago to go to college at Columbia University and never left. Although, maybe I am most "AT home" sitting on a beach looking at the ocean. 

Health and fitness are obviously integral parts of your life. Have you always been passionate about them? What first inspired you to get involved in the fitness industry?

I mean... no. Sure, I have always been active. Took ballet and dance as a kid and played soccer through high school. I kind of would binge exercise—a good couple of years lifting weights, then pilates, yoga, i definitely had a personal trainer in the 90s. But my focus became about a career—and ultimately a career as a lawyer. I used to say "I don't do cardio..." until I did. I fell in love with SoulCycle unexpectedly. 3 kids. Extended maternity leave from a big corporate law firm. The thing that drew me in wasn't the workout... It was the message and the community and the space to be both free and united at the same time. One class a week became 3, and 3 classes became "the podium rider"... I loved every ride. And then a new chapter for me when I became an instructor in 2009. A career born out of love. Now, nearly 8 years later I have never looked back. 

Melanie Griffith Terez Linked Not Ranked

What first drew you to the Linked Not Ranked movement? When did it "click" for you?

I am drawn to the LNR movement because it is everything I believe to be true. I have known Zara for years, and the "click" was immediate once she told me about her vision.

What does the movement mean to you personally? How do you live it out in your everyday life, and how do you see women everywhere incorporating it into their daily lives?

I believe that we, as women, as humans, as New Yorkers, as fitness professionals, are stronger together than we are alone.

I try to teach it, preach it, and live it at the same time. I fundamentally see myself as someone who wants to be surrounded by a room full of leaders, not a room full of followers. I want my kids and my students alike to learn how to be united AND independent; to know their own worth, and to find strength in a common purpose... I also have tattoos of my most powerful mantras—a constant reminder to myself of how I am trying to live.

We know you must have a fire workout playlist! What are some of your go-to workout tunes?

I really do have an eclectic taste in music that spans genres and decades. I LOVE powerful women vocalists and pretty much anything that resonates deep in my heart and spirit. Florence, Sia, The Jezebels, Heartless Bastards, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Chvrches, P!nk...  

Melanie Griffith Terez Linked Not Ranked

It's no secret that instructors can work pretty hectic hours—how do you stay balanced and organized in your personal life and your work life?

Finding the balance of life. It is a constant work in progress. I teach a full schedule of classes at SoulCycle: 12 a week, 10 of them in 3 days. I work full time at SoulHQ as the Director of Instructor Development. I am the mother of 3 extremely active and busy teenagers. The times I find balance are the times when I am most successful at living in the moment.

When I can stay present and fully engaged in what I am doing—without allowing the constant loop of my endless to-do list to run through my thoughts—then I am able to find calm in the chaos.

I frequently take deep breaths and refocus my mind.

It's Friday night. Where are you?

In bed early with no alarm set.

We're all human. What's your guilty pleasure?

I don't really feel guilty about it... But there are a few little things I happen to enjoy that may not be considered "healthy" choices. French fries with truffle oil all day, every day. Coffee ice cream. The Bachelor...

You absolutely can’t leave the house without...  

I mean... My reading glasses. Dammit.  

What would you say is the most important lesson that fitness & the LNR movement have taught you?

That my story is your story.

Finally, if you had to pick just one... Which is your favorite Terez print?

I have a soft spot for the Stand Up To Cancer print...

What does Linked Not Ranked mean to YOU? Let us know in the comments below! And for more information about this special movement, click HERE!