SoulCycle Un-spun

For months, I’ve listened to coworkers and customers rave about the latest cycling craze, SoulCycle.  I stare at the studio space everyday at work but I’ve never been inside.  Every Soul regular swears it’s unique compared to other spin classes.  But why?  This morning, I took my first class with a few other people from my job and I learned first hand what makes SoulCycle one-of-a-kind.

courtesy of

courtesy of

1. Riders clip into their bikes, which requires you to wear special cycling shoes.  These shoes are available for rent ($3 per class).  Clipping into the bike enables riders to target the appropriate muscle groups during rides while providing a safer experience.  Attaching your feet to the pedals is a lot like locking your ski boots into the binding.  You align your foot over the pedal and push down locking your shoe into place.  Unclipping from the binding seems daunting, but it’s actually pretty easy- angle your heel away from the bike and your shoe will eventually unlock.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help from the staff or your fellow riders.  Everyone has been there!  Even Soul veterans have been known to leave their shoes in the bindings after class.

2. Classes are conducted in a dimly lit room.  Lights are turned off except for a bit of mood setting back lighting and candles.  Imagine you’re walking into a relaxing, candlelit yoga class…and then the instructor plays the music and you realize you’re in for anything BUT relaxing.

3. SoulCycle focuses on community in the studio.  During class, you will ride, run, climb, and dance (all on the bike) and you do so in conjunction with your fellow riders.  The instructor encourages everyone to match strides with their neighbor.  You’re not there to surpass them; you ride with them.  You even belt out a few group “WOOPs” during class.

4. One 45 minute class offers a full body workout.  Not only do your legs and backside feel the burn, but you’ll also leave the studio with arms like jelly.  Expect to do a lot of push up type motions while you ride (up and down, back and forth, side to side), as well as core targeting crunches while pedaling.  Towards the end of class, you’ll reach for the light hand weights kept behind the bike seat and engage in overhead tricep extensions and bicep curls.  The weights may be light but I guarantee you’ll be begging to return the weights to their stored position.

5. Throughout class, you’ll be instructed to add resistance to your ride by turning the knob full rotations.  The resistance increases slightly so don’t be surprised if you can’t feel a difference.  You probably didn’t rotate the knob enough.

6. My class was free and I also have a few free coupons from work that I will be using before they expire.  If you want to try SoulCycle for yourself, they offer your first class for $20.  Otherwise you can purchase a wide range of classes from as little as one ($34) to 50 ($3,500).

In my honest opinion, SoulCycle offered an alternative to my daily running routine; however, I prefer the regular spin classes I took back in High School.  I left my Soul class feeling underwhelmed.  Being my first time, I’m sure I didn’t do everything properly.  The resistance was a bit tricky for me to gauge and my form wasn’t admirable like the veterans.  But even in my weakest spin class, I left with shaky legs and feeling physically drained.  After my inaugural SoulCycle class this morning, I still needed more so I hit the treadmill for a 5K run and weight training session.

SoulCycle is one fad workout that I wouldn’t buy into just yet.  If the exorbitant price is going to drain my bank account, each class should drain my body, too.  Maybe after my second SoulCycle experience, I’ll feel differently.  I’ve seen photos of Soul studios that use resistance bands instead of weights.  Maybe the classes differ?  For now, I’ll stick with my running routine and any free class that might come my way!  PureBarre anyone?


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