Indoor cycling is the newest obsession in fitness trends. Men and women all over are flocking to indoor cycle studios for their daily workout and SoulCycle is amongst the leading favorites, steadily building a serious cult following.
My sister has been a devoted SoulCycler for years and had talked it up, way up. I was thinking “It’s a spin class, I get it.” I was so wrong. I had been to several spin classes in the past and I was spinning approximately 4-5 times a week for years before I started law school. But, I still had no idea what to expect in my first SoulCycle class.
I signed up for my first ride at the SOMA studio in San Francisco, a relatively new location. I walked into the studio and the custom SoulCycle stationary bikes were staged like a movie theatre with stadium seating. The instructors ride on a raised podium in the front and they wear a headpiece connected to the studios elaborate surround-sound system so you can hear what they’re saying over the music. Each of the multi-talented instructors creates a playlist for the class and you can read about the instructors and their music preferences online before reserving a bike. A member of the notoriously friendly staff adjusted my bike and clipped in my shoes to ensure I was properly set up for my first ride. Each bike is equipped with a freshly cleaned towel and a set of hand weights, and water is a must – they sell bottles at the front desk incase you forget yours.
As soon as we started riding, the instructor turned off the lights and the studio was lit only by candlelight; fresh grapefruit scented candles are always lit in the front of every class. The instructor went over information necessary for a productive class including arm positions and proper resistance training. The class was intense! You are moving and pushing your body the entire 45 minutes. However, you really can tailor your ride to whatever level of a rider you are. I survived the same class my sister did and it was my first ride and her 200th.
Every instructor has their own style and they choreograph each ride so that every class is different and keeps challenging your body. You will sprint, climb, push and dance your way through a class that makes the 45 minutes go by without you even noticing. Hand weights are incorporated into the end of each class promising you a full body workout. I have since tried a lot of instructors before finding my favorites and I still will switch it up and ride with someone new. Some of my favorite classes offered are “themed” rides where the class playlist has a common theme, for example I have attended a We Love the 90’s ride, a Taylor Swift ride and I have an Old Mariah v. New Mariah ride scheduled for later this week.
I have heard it called everything from a cult to a community, and both titles are somewhat accurate. There is an all-around sense of positive energy in the studio that you don’t get from going to a regular gym class and the instructors are especially encouraging. The class takes you away from the stresses of real life and for 45 minutes you are only worried about you. Riding in the dark allows you to forget what you look like and about the riders around you, you are able to focus on only yourself – something that is very difficult to achieve at a regular gym. You will walk out sweaty and feeling productive. The classes are filled with people who are there to better themselves, not to compare or judge each other. It is actually difficult to be looking around at others during a class, if you aren’t paying attention to your form or the instructor you will be completely lost. The “cult” vibe stems from the fact that SoulCycle regulars take classes religiously and are extremely if not obnoxiously loyal to the chain, refusing to try competitors like FlyWheel or Cycle House. How can you tell a member of the cult? Easy. Each studio sells athletic apparel (SoulCycle partners with Lululemon and Nike) and the styles change monthly; religious riders proudly ride in their limited edition gear. Another aspect of the cult / community discussion is that the classes are not cheap. If you purchase by the class, each ride ranges from $30-$34, based on studio location. SoulCycle offers discounted rides if you purchase packages of 5, 10, 20, 30 or 50 classes, saving you about $2 a ride. Not everyone can afford to be an avid SoulCycler, which creates a sense of exclusivity amongst those who are.
After my very first class at SoulCycle I couldn’t wait to book my next ride. You will walk out of the class feeling more accomplished after 45 minutes than you ever have before. The classes are so much fun that you forget how hard you are working your body. Once you start to see the results you will be even more excited to book your next ride. I have yet to skip a class that I have reserved and on my days off, I am always wishing I had scheduled a class.
Avid SoulCycler Casey, 28 who rides in NYC, tells Legal Ink Magazine:
“SoulCycle is more than a spin class, its a full mind and body experience. It helps me escape for 45 minutes because of the adrenaline and sense of community the other riders provide for each other. It makes me feel like I’m part of something and like it’s a second home. The teachers encourage you to push yourself just like a personal trainer would and provide positivity from beginning to end. I love the music and the confidence boosters from the instructors.”
Your first ride at SoulCycle is discounted and your shoe rental is free (they are then $3 per class to rent or $150 to purchase). Class schedules, instructor profiles and bike reservations are all easily accessible online. SoulCycle classes are currently offered in New York, Maryland, DC, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, California. If you are lucky enough to have a studio in your city, I highly suggest you take a class. Or five.