The SoulCycle Experience

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!!

Love me some Ramona and her love for wine!!! I will be joining her tonight and toasting to the weekend….

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I recently attended a Soul Cycle class and survived! I had heard of these popping up everywhere and they just recently opened one down the street from my office. One of my blogging friends Chelsea from TheDancingRunner, who is a beast runner and also teaches spin classes, reached out to me about going to a class together. Of course I was all about it… then she said “how about a 5:30am class?” My first reaction was “Ok, I get up to run at 5:30 so I got this..” then I remembered we just moved to BFE sooooooooo that means 4am for me!!! But No Pain No Gain right?!?! Why not try my first class with a friend AND even better a professional spinner 🙂

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A little history about SoulCycle…

The SoulCycle story

SoulCycle started in New York City about 10 years ago with a goal to make fitness classes not feel like work, and today there are 25 locations nationwide. SoulCycle has a clean and cool brand, friendly employees and an awesome spot in center of Preston Hollow, a popular shopping center close to my office. I have co-workers who are obsessed and some friends who go regularly.

The SoulCycle experience

Once class begins, the dark studio is lit only by candlelight, unless the teacher flashes the lights on and off during transitions. There are tons of bikes, and they are just inches from each other on both sides. The butt of the person in front of you is truly about six inches from your face at most and because of the close quarters, rules are posted about personal hygiene and side conversations. If you are claustrophobic, you may have issues with this type of set-up. This was the loudest studio I’ve ever experienced which made the experience much more exciting!

We sat in the front row on the right side, with a clear view of the instructor. The instructor that morning was Cat, a beast on the bike. While searching their website, I discovered they give a personal background for each instructor, which I thought was just another cool feature of the brand. The class began right on time, and we spent all 45 minutes on our custom-designed SoulCycle bikes.

 

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The SoulCycle difference

It was about 10 minutes into class that SoulCycle showed me how it was different from any other cycling program I’ve ever taken. We started “dancing on the bike” if you will, while peddling, we put our hands on the middle handlebars and did some push presses toward the handlebars with our upper body as we rode to the beat. Cat threw her head and ponytail into it and made it feel very dancy. She called this “elbows back” and said this part was supposed to work the abs, which I think it did, but mostly it was just a good opportunity to bob up and down with a fast beat, all the while riding in hovered position just above the saddle.

From there, we did a couple seated sprints, with our hands narrow on the handlebars. Then there was a song during which we jumped up off the bike seat, and then sat down again for quick seated and standing intervals. That was my favorite portion of the class by far, because it reminded me of a traditional cycling class.

I will say that in this particular class, we spent much of the time with our butts hovering over the saddle, which really works the hamstrings and backside. However, if not coached properly, someone could definitely cheat on this portion and not really feel the work in the back of the legs if they lean forward onto their quads. Cat gave us cues to brace the abs, keep the arms light and hips back to ensure we were in position, and she even hopped off her bike to keep everyone motivated.

And then we used weights on the bike

About 30 minutes into the class, we slowed our legs down, added some resistance on the wheels and picked up our small hand-weights, which were on a little rack behind each bike easily accessible from the seated position. This began the five-minute upper-body weighted portion of class. With the little weights, we did small tiny pulsing isometric holds, combined with larger rows, bicep curls and tricep extensions. Similar to a barre class, the use of very light weights and taking the arms to fatigue was challenging. We didn’t put our arms down the entire song, and my shoulders were absolutely burning by the end. It’s hard to imagine that tiny weights can cause that kind of burn, but they sure can.

Once we had our weights back in the rack, we did another climb and ride out of the saddle, a few sprints and then it was over and time for the three-minute stretch on the bike. I was amazed at how easily she pulled her cycle shoes out of the pedals, because I was not so efficient when dismounting.

Normally the cool-downs and stretches of a class are totally throw away. But I loved the stretch in SoulCycle, because Cat had us stretch our hips and rears by standing up, leaning forward and putting one leg on the handlebars in a pigeon position. I could feel the stretch in my hamstrings so I knew I got a good workout. My legs were also shaking so I must of done something right 🙂

Overall thoughts on SoulCycle

SoulCycle is short and sweet with a lot of SOUL! Most of the classes I attend and are closer to 55 minutes or an hour. I am usually done by 45 minutes and just want to get off the bike. SoulCycle’s 45 minutes seemed very quick but efficient. I like how a 45-minute workout can fit into a busy day. There is not a clock in the room and I didn’t have a watch on to check time. They also do not allow phones in the rooms but I think this is brilliant! You are in your own world for 45 minutes and its just you and the bike.

A major high point of the entire experience was the staff at SoulCycle. From the front desk people to the instructor. I had heard that SoulCycle prides itself on choosing great instructors, and Cat was super energetic. She looked, acted and lived the brand through and through. She was clear, coached the class, motivating and even shared words of advice throughout each climb. I like the fact that cycle shoes were required, because it helped me feel locked in to the pedals and not all cycle classes require them. You really miss out if you don’t wear the right shoes, and I’ve actually heard it helps you burn more calories by staying tight to the pedals and maximizing muscle recruitment.

Pros:

– If the amount I was sweating is any indication, this is a seriously effective workout. You won’t be wasting 45 minutes of your life if you decide to incorporate a SoulCycle class

– The class went by pretty quickly. I was definitely ready for it to be over before it was, but it wasn’t a session of pure slow-moving torture like I feared it might be

-The music was AMAZING!!!!

-My instructor was helpful, friendly, encouraging and so energetic

-There’s an emphasis on staying positive and making friends with your neighbor, which makes the whole experience motivating but not in an ultra competitive way

-The intro class is a great way to ease new riders into the Soul Cycle way. There’s a 101 class as well as levels 102 and 103, which focus on getting participants used to following choreography while riding

-The bathroom/showers are amazing. They offer any and everything you could possibly need (shampoo/deodorant,towels,blow dryers, hair ties etc) and it wasn’t crowded. They play calming music for post class to chill before a busy day.

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Cons:

-The first session is $20 to try it out, after that every session is $30. If you go often this can become expensive but I plan to go once a month. They offer packages also.

-There is only one class going on at a time. Could be difficult to get into a class but they are going on all day

-The downside to waiting for your class is the limited space. One class comes out, another comes in and its kind of hectic

Packages & Pricing:

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SoulCycle Class Overview:

Length: 45 minutes

Format: entire class spent on the bike, including a warm-up ride, jumping out of the seat on the bike, push-ups and upper-body movement while riding, climbing out of the saddle, five-minutes of arm weight training on the bike, more riding out of the saddle and three minutes of stretching on the bike

Equipment: Shoe rental available for $3, bike, weights and towels provided

Suggested outfit: Tight capris, tank top and hair pulled back off of the face, cycle shoes required

Difficulty: On a 1 to 10 scale, probably a 7

Pros: Clubby atmosphere, great instructor, trendy setting and good music

TIPS:

-You can register for a specific bike in advance online so you get the best seat for your workout

-I would recommend registering early and arriving early for class

-Bring water & make sure you eat something. You will burn the calories plus more!

Have you tried SoulCycle? What are your favorite boutique workouts?

Brittany 🙂

  • That sounds like tons of fun, and the bathrooms look awesome. 🙂 I wish there was one near me!

    • It is the best workout and such a classy studio! Have a great weekend! 🙂

  • YAY! Great review and so informative!! I could not have said it better myself 🙂 As an instructor myself I always enjoy getting to take other people’s classes…it’s like a special treat. Can’t wait to go with you again!

    • Thanks!! So glad you scheduled it and got us in early… that had to be the best part lol – lets do it again! 🙂

  • You are AWESOME! This post was amazing and totally makes me want to attend a class! You answered so many questions I had (like do they have shoe rentals??) that I just never looked up!

    • It was an awesome class you should totally do it!! So glad this helped and hope you take a class… Have an awesome weekend! 🙂

  • Fantastic review! So thorough and helpful- thanks!!