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Taking a Spin with SoulCycle

by Meghann on June 14, 2012

The sun rises ridiculously early in NYC this time of year.

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I left my hotel just after 5:30 this morning, and was so shocked by the early morning blue skies that I had to keep checking my phone to make sure I wasn’t running late. It was like one of those dreams where you think you’re on time, then realize you’ve accidentally slept in and missed everything. Am I still sleeping? Is the clock on my phone wrong? Did I miss everything?

Nope. The sun just rises really early – Gotta love those long summer days 😉 – and I made it my 6:00am SoulCycle class with tons of time to spare. 😉

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When I knew I was coming to New York for a whirlwind 30 hour trip, I thought it would be fun to try and squeeze in a fun NYC fitness class while I was here. NYC is sorta known for their unique fitness studios (usually hyped up by whichever celebrity is currently raving about them) and I thought it might be fun to see what all the hype is about. When in Rome, right? 😉

I did a call out on Twitter and Facebook on which ones NYC-ers recommended and SoulCycle was the clear winner. I’d heard a little bit about the SoulCycle classes from fellow bloggers, but not much beyond the fact that it’s a spin class that goes beyond just spinning.

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Here’s what I found on the website for a little more insight:

SoulCycle’s full-body workout has revolutionized indoor cycling and taken the world of fitness by storm. Combining inspirational coaching and high-energy music, SoulCycle offers an engaging workout that benefits both the mind and the body.

Each SoulCycle ride delivers an intense FULL-BODY workout with a fun and energizing atmosphere. Not only do riders burn calories and get their hearts pumping, but using the SoulCycle® Method, riders also work their core and use hand weights to tone their upper bodies. In all of our studios, we ensure that SoulCyclists are treated to the country’s best instructors and staff, trained to deliver unique services and personal attention to all levels of riders.

hmm.. the “full-body” spin workout caught my attention. I got online and reserved my bike. I mean, why not?

One thing that always amazes me about specialty fitness studio classes in New York (or really anywhere) is the price (especially for a drop-in class!). A one-time drop-in class for SoulCycle is $32, which – if I’m doing the math correctly – means you’re paying roughly 75 cents per minute for the 45 minute class. Yes, you can get a group package deal at slightly discounted rates, but that’s a lot of money. And, to be honest, with that heavy of pricetag, I was curious about the differences between this spinning class and the one that’s included with my $35 per month gym membership fee back home.

(p.s. I find it interesting they created a teen driven class that’s been modified from the original)

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I arrived at the studio about 10 minutes before my 6:00am class start time (as recommended on SoulCycle’s website) and was instantly greeted by two very friendly SoulCycle employees who were warm and welcoming. Since I had pre-paid for the class – and already reserved my bike online – I simply had to initial next to my name on the sheet on the counter. I noticed that the box next to my name was highlighted, and the guy who was helping me noticed that too. He asked if it was my first class, when I said yes he told me my spinning shoe rentals were on the house for my first class. Sweet. (you are required to have spin shoes for the class, if you don’t own a pair you can rent them from the studio for a fee).

I found my friend Ashley (who I was so happy I got to see while I was up here, even if it was only for an hour this morning!) and she took me downstairs to put my stuff in the complimentary lockers.

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After that we found our bikes and watched the class fill up. Even while charging roughly $30 a pop, the studio still sells out almost every class! I guess if people are willing to pay it, I would be charging that much too. People are crazy. Heck – I don’t blame them! – I’m crazy too.

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Right before class one of the ladies from the front found me and asked if it was my first class. She wanted to make sure that I was all set up and had everything I needed. If there’s one thing I can say about SoulCycle, it’s that their people are great! So kind, welcoming, and extremely helpful, especially to first timer!

I immediately liked our instructor when he walked in the room. He was energetic, lively, and started his own little dance party up front while everyone made last minute adjustments on their bikes. I think it was the dancing that won me over, that boy could move!

The ride started out as a traditional spin class with a short warm-up, then we popped out of our seats and stayed that way for the majority of the class. I’m always afraid I go too light on resistance during spin classes, so I tried my best to follow the instructor’s cues for adding resistance or taking it away. What I found interesting was that there wasn’t a lot of changes in resistance like there is in traditional spin classes. There also weren’t many references to our cadence, our speed, sprints, jumps, climbs, etc. (all of that was pretty steady), instead there was a lot of moving in and out of our seats seats. We kept spinning as we leaned over our handlebars for push-ups, moved side-to-side to challenge our obliques, and kept our heart rates high by pretty much going full force the whole time (I was sad there weren’t many chances for a breather during the class).

It was tough. Tougher than I was expecting. And very different compared to the traditional classes I’m used to. Some of the moves were a little awkward to execute on the bike and it was strange not worrying about my speed. However, I will say my arms did feel pretty sore at the end and I was pretty sweaty leaving the studio. I had a lovely post-sweat glow on the walk home.

The class was fun and different, but I’m not sure it’s worth all the hype it gets for what it is. Honestly, if given the choice between sticking with the traditional spin classes included with my gym membership, or paying extra for the specialty SoulCycle classes, I would stick with the gym classes. Not worth the extra money in my opinion. But, like I said, it was an experience and I’m glad I got to take one to see what all the fuss was about!!

Have you ever taken a specialty spin class (I know SoulCycle isn’t the only one out there!) what did you think?

1 Beth @ 990 Square June 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Wow $35 a month! That’s a cheap gym! I live in Baltimore, where gym memberships seem to average $75-$110 a month! I can only imagine that NYC gyms are more than that, so maybe the $30 a class isn’t so bad if a regular gym is going to cost you $150 a month.
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2 Brittany June 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I’m from NYC, it definitely depends on where you go. You can get a gym membership for $35 a month here (or at least a couple of years ago you could).

3 Elisabeth June 15, 2012 at 3:59 am

I’m in Ohio (Toledo area) and our gyms are in the $30-$40 range here. I could never justify spending one month’s fee on one class!

4 Sarah June 14, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Hey!! Glad I got to meet you today and found your blog!! Loving it!

I have never heard of spin cycle but I am with you about overpriced stuff in nyc. I am sure it is a great class but I am one for the cheap side of things like my $20 a month gym membership and running outside. But I am glad to know about this place now just in case 🙂

I LOVE how early the sun comes up in the summer. It is blissful!

Safe travels home lady!!
Sarah recently posted..Death by Stairs and a Birthday

5 April @goaprilgo June 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Hmm…SoulCycle sounds interesting. I’m totally chicken in spinning classes (I find them really intimidating!), but I think a teen specialty class would be great. NYC pricing is expensive–I’m really lucky that while I’m away at college I can take advantage of free gym classes instead of paying a monthly fee. While I’m at home, I just tend to do stuff on my own.

It was fantastic meeting with you today, by the way! I hope your flight went smoothly and safely.
April @goaprilgo recently posted..Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part IV

6 Meghann June 15, 2012 at 7:12 am

It was great meeting you too! I hope the train ride home wasn’t too horrific. Tell your dad happy birthday for me!!!

7 April @goaprilgo June 15, 2012 at 8:46 am

It wasn’t too bad (totally worth it to come to lunch). Thanks, sure thing!
April @goaprilgo recently posted..A Whole Week of Awesomeness?!

8 Sloane @ Life Food and Beer June 14, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I would get confused spinning as fast as I can and trying to do different moves. I’ll have to look if to see if I have anything like that in West Palm. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like fun.
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9 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama June 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I’ve never taken a specialty spin class. I like that it works your upper body as well as your lower. I’ll have to see if we have anything like that in my area!
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10 Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes June 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I’ve heard lots of good things about SoulCycle, but I don’t know if I could justify spending $30 per class–that’s super expensive! I know Flywheel is also popular, especially in the NYC-area, but I’ve never been to a “boutique” spinning class.
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11 Dori June 14, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I am not a fan of SoulCycle, but I LOVE their competitor Flywheel. There isn’t any of those bike pushups (which I think distract from the class and aren’t totally safe), and the class is just as intense! There are little computers at each bike that tell you your RPMs, power, resistance and at the end of the class you get a total number, so you have something to work towards beating the next time. And they have stadium seating!

But if I saw your tweet, I would have told you to go to my all time FAVORITE studio, Refine Method! I actually have a free gym membership that I never use because I get pushed so much harder from the expensive boutique classes. It’s a pricey habit, but for me it is worth the investment.

12 Lindsay @ Running the Windy City June 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Ahhh so thats what SoulCycle is ;). It sounds interesting but you’re right, it’s almost as expensive as my gym membership that includes a ton of cycling classes. Crazy! I’m glad you enjoyed it though, its always fun to try something new!
Lindsay @ Running the Windy City recently posted..Strike Out ALS 5k

13 Angela June 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I work out at home so I don’t even pay for a gym membership or know exactly what it would cost, but $30 for one class?! Wow! I probably would have tried it too, I have heard quite a few things about it, and while you are there you might as well!
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14 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats June 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm

i can’t imagine a spin class being worth so much! that just seems crazy!
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15 ash bear June 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I’m so glad I was able to see you and I have to agree with you assessment. I actually didn’t love today’s class because it had too many push-ups and side to sides for me to focus on my intensity/speed. I do however love the energy, packed classes and music selections!
ash bear recently posted..A Commitment That Shouldn’t Be Taken Lightly

16 BroccoliHut June 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I completely understand where you’re coming from on this one. While it’s nice to include our fur children, it might be a little traumatic for them! I wish Margot could be my flower girl, but I’m pretty sure the church wouldn’t appreciate it, and she would probably pee all the way down the aisle out of fear. Not what I’m going for on my wedding day!
That being said, my cousin had her big, beautiful black Lab as the ring bearer in her outdoor wedding, and it worked out perfectly.

17 Samantha June 14, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Sad to see you didn’t love SoulCycle – and if I had known that was your pick, I would’ve filled you in – first-time riders get to ride for $20, get free shoes and water. Alas, I’m a Soul addict…I’ve tried hitting up regular spin classes at gyms after I went, but it’s just not the same. I find myself working so much harder when I’m at Soul, and the energy in that room is crazy. I’ve done Flywheel, it’s competitor, quite a few times too, but am not the biggest fan – but I think that has more to do with your personality because SoulCycle and Flywheel totally tap into different mindsets. Next time you’re here, you should try Flywheel and compare!

18 Margo June 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm

That looks like fun! I’m guessing with the generally higher cost of living in NYC that $30 doesn’t seem like such a splurge? I recently got a groupon for a boutique cycling studio, and I can’t wait to try it!

19 Lena @Fit on the Rocks June 14, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Spinning while doing handlebar push-ups? I would totally face plant onto the bars or fall off of my bike lol
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20 Army Amy* June 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm

When the price is that high, the class really has to be worth it. I’m too cheap to shell out any dough for workout classes, so it’s not for me. Maybe if I was better about cross-training it might appeal more.*
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21 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More June 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I’ve never even taken a spin class…though I would like to some day. I’m just afraid I won’t be able to keep up. I guess the only way to know is to TRY.
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22 Lindsay June 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I was introduced to a similar cycling studio here in DC through a deal site, called Revolve, and was hooked. I like that you know the instructors you’re getting, and I never leave without being drenched in sweat! However, I do a 5-morning-a-week boot camp, and the $20/class price tag just didn’t make sense. (and actually, I finally gave up my gym membership because these other classes kick my butt way more and are more fun). Luckily, the studio offers work trade and I’ve been able to “work” for my classes by cleaning and resetting the bikes. A lot of exercise studios do the same thing, so that’s a great option if you like the classes but can’t justify or afford the expense!

23 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey June 14, 2012 at 10:50 pm

The sun rises in Chicago at 5:00 AM every morning inthe summer!
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24 Annette @FitnessPerks June 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I think the price is ridiculous for a spin class…especially since I think doing anything other than ‘regular’ moves on a bike is lame. I mean, the bike is for spinning, not pushups. Besides it’s not really safe.

But then again, a class with a lot of fun music and energy is always awesome. I am sure it’s an experience, but I would never shell that much out for a spin class with cool pushups. Just sayin’. Love your honesty, Meghann!! Have fun in NYC 🙂
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25 Vita June 15, 2012 at 5:12 am

So first of all, I am not from the States at all – I live in Lithuania. And for quite some time I used to think that all that specialty spinning class you described was just the usual spinning. Until I went to a spinning class led by another instructor. Turns out the normal usual spinning was boring. For my gym membership I pay about $50 a month and it includes all kinds of classes (spinning too). I couldn’t be happier with my instructor. We usually do interval training with climbs and increasing resistance and at the same time we do all those different routines with push ups, side bends, elbows down and up, bending to the front and then pulling away to the back. The most difficult thing to do is spinning while standing up and keeping the tail still AND doing all the routines at the same time. It’s an amazing amazing full body workout!
So yeah, I love it.
And since I am more of a stalker here, I have to say, I really like your blog. Thank you for it. Sincerely 🙂

26 Grazia June 15, 2012 at 5:14 am

Many years ago (I think it was 2001) I did few lessons of “acrobatic spinning”: basically it was spinning with some weird moves, like pedaling with just one leg (keepin up the other leg). It was very extreme and dangerous, so it’s not strange that it wasn’t a success and disappeared from the fitness industry.

27 olivia June 15, 2012 at 8:10 am

which instructor did you take? i’ve been doing soul cycle for about 2 year now, and i absolutely love it. i only go about once a week (sometimes twice 😉 ) but i have a gym in my building, so i don’t have to fork over money for a gym membership as well. it’s definitely expensive, but i absolutely love it. glad you got to go!

28 Laura June 15, 2012 at 8:15 am

I’m addicted to Flywheel, a competitor of SoulCycle. We don’t really have any other boutique spin studios in Atlanta, so I can’t compare it to SoulCycle, but Flywheel is a little cheaper and includes shoes. I love the stadium seating so I can always see what the instructor is doing, even from the back corner. It’s totally worth it to me.

29 Meagan @ Managing Meagan June 15, 2012 at 8:25 am

I can’t believe how pricey those calsses are! My gym membership is $38/month and includes unlimited fitness classes. I can’t imagine spending almost the same on ONE class. I’d definitely try it… but, I think I’d be with you in that I just couldn’t see it being SO MUCH BETTER that it’d be worth that much.
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30 Dina June 15, 2012 at 11:48 am

I pay about $50 a moth for a gym membership that includes the full range of Les Mills classes. I do occasionally do a Yoga drop-in for the $13 dollar a class range but $32 for one class not including shoes seems really high. Not sure I could justify that expense at all.
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31 Tara June 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I live in NYC and the only gyms I see with the cheaper monthly options are the Planet Fitness gyms. I would love to know about some of the $40 a month gyms people are referencing in the city!! I do not want to repeat my Planet Fitness membership but the other options I have found are in the $100 a month range and that is too much!!!

32 Dusty @ Running to Healthy June 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I live in Vegas and pay $40/mo for my gym membership. Individual classes not associated with the gym seem to run $25 and up out here. I think it all depends on where you live.
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33 Kelly June 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I’ve been to Flywheel here in Chicago. Your first ride is free. Who doesn’t love a free fitness class??!! The location I went to doesn’t have showers otherwise I would go some mornings before work. It might not be worth a membership to some but always worth a try.

34 Jennifer Fidler June 27, 2012 at 2:05 am

I go to the Soul Cycle in Los Angeles (sometimes). With shoes and water it is $30 a pop. I do like it and enjoy the atmosphere, especially the candles, plus there is free gum at the counter! But quite honestly it is not worth the extra money, even with the super friendly and welcoming staff. My gym membership is $67/mth and I can go to unlimited SPIN classes with them. It is JUST as tough a workout and they have certified quality instructors. The workout is the same, the only difference is the atmosphere.

35 Dusty January 8, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Hello everyone, I am a very popular spin instructor in Brossard, Quebec Canada, and work at Mansfield athletique club, I must say that my classes are full and fill up a room of 34 bikes in about 2 minutes, okay, modesty aside, being a pro cyclist, these push ups on a bike or any bike is a huge no for me, the only thing I will do that normally we would not do outside is jumps, otherwise I do long out of the saddle climbs with more resistance every minute up to 20 minutes + and people love that with a rpm of 65-85 standing. People have puddles of sweat under their bike after my class, and these ’boutique’ classes are over rated, if your gym has an awesome instructor than it is the same or better.

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