Thursday, June 14, 2012

Taking a Spin with SoulCycle

by Meghann on June 14, 2012

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


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. 😉


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.


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.


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.


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?

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