I was blessed (or cursed…depending on how you look at it) to have several overnights in New York City this past month. And while I ate a bunch of delicious pizza and ice cream, I also dipped my toe into the vast pool of fitness classes offered.
There was one studio in particular I really wanted to try. SoulCycle.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years…or really don’t pay attention to fitness trends, let me educate you.
SoulCycle is a spin studio that has a cult-like following. It started up in NYC and now has 82 studios across North America, including three studios in Canada (nothing in Calgary yet). The classes are 45 minutes long and in a warm space with 50+ bikes and bodies in the room. People are addicted. To the workout, the inspiring instructors and the feeling you get after leaving a SoulCycle class.
Since I’ve gushed to the world that I purchased a intro pass I’ve been met with the same enthusiasm I had when I first decided to bite the bullet and give it a go.
“OMG I’m so jealous!”
“Tell me what it’s like!”
“That place is like the Vatican City of spin studios!”
Friends and co-workers have asked me: “So what’s the deal with it? What’s it like compared to other spin studios? What makes it better?”
So here it is: I’m going to give you the low-down on SoulCycle.
First things first: how much does it cost? SoulCycle is one of the most expensive classes I’ve ever taken. A drop-in pass is $35. Since I was in NYC a bunch of times, I opted for the intro pass, $75 for 3 classes (remember this is in American dollars too). For comparison:
YYC Cycle: $23 for a drop in (includes shoe rental)
Stax Cycle Club: $17.50 (includes shoe rental)
I’ve been to studios who charge for shoe rentals and ones who don’t. SoulCycle charges $3 for shoe rental. Not like it’s a big deal. But I’ll add up. Your first class comes with free shoe rentals.
The first impression I had of SoulCycle came from the app. Before I even stepped into a studio I knew that I was going to enjoy my workout no matter what. How? The SoulCycle app shows you the instructors for every class and location. More importantly, it shows you their playlist for the class. Music is a HUGE motivator for me. Nothing kills my spirit more than a bunch of techno songs I’ve never heard of, or old rock songs that remind me of feeling sick in the back of a minivan growing up. I was able to pick an instructor who liked similar music, which made me feel more comfortable that I was picking a class I’d enjoy. You can also choose your bike on the app (with a nice map, so you actually know where the bike is in the studio). I will clear up one thing I read in some negative article about SoulCycle: You can definitely get a spot in the front row. I literally always sit in the front row at spin class because I can never hear what the hell moves were supposed to be doing.
The studios are amazing. They are all outfitted in clean, crisp white with bits of slick black and yellow. Every studio has the SoulCycle apparel (which I was very tempted to buy) as well as lockers with combination locks built into them. The front desk is insanely busy, with four or more front desk staff that barely have a second to check you in. The bathrooms are also loaded with blow dryers, makeup wipes, dry shampoo and anything else you need to jump from class to work.
My first experience checking in wasn’t the greatest. As I mentioned earlier, no one had a second to really help me. I told them it was my first time and they said, great, whatever welcome. No one showed me around or helped me with my bike. But, luckily it wasn’t my first rodeo, and I found my way around.
My next experience was much better. They front desk staff was helpful and friendly. Although they were also busy AF, they took more time to help me out. It really depends on which classes and studios you check out for this experience.
The Spin Room
Walking into the spin room was a bit surreal. I was excited to see the beautiful, brand-new-looking bikes, with SOULCYCLE streaked across each of the bikes in the room. The spin studio itself is pretty standard: one bike on a platform in the front of the room for the instructor, with a few lit candles around. You felt an instant calmness once you stepped into the room. Since you’ve completely left the hustle and bustle of downtown NYC and the madness of the front desk during check in. I was surprised to see there were no fancy flashing lights throughout the studio. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting more bells and whistles.
Your first time can be a bit tricky. There are a tonne of “moves” that the instructor takes you through. Tap backs, double tap backs, wide push ups, tricep push ups, forward, standing, butt back, side to side, one hand on, no hands on, I could go on for a while. Although it would take me a second to catch on to the moves, I found they really pumped up my heart rate and challenged my core more so than I ever had in a spin class. The instructors belt out encouragement and excitement throughout your ride. They also give mantras, and deep thoughts throughout, leaving you feeling like you’ve left a high intensity class, but with the calmness of a yoga class. Each class includes a weight track, which is standard in most classes offered at spin studios.
I felt like I was sweating a lot more than normal after my classes. After chatting with the instructor, I realized that you do sweat a lot more, and feel like you’ve worked harder because the classes don’t have air-conditioning or fans on.
My instructors were amazing, very welcoming and friendly after class. You don’t see the instructors until the class starts. This may have something to do with the “show” aspect of SoulCycle.
OMFG was I EVER nervous about the people who would be in the class. I guess it has to do with the fear of fitting in, not looking stupid, wearing the right outfit etc. etc. The classes were mixed with men and women of all ages and sizes. Everyone was there to get a good workout and was not intimidating at all. I even made a friend with the girl next to me. She explained to me that she signed up for the class because the instructor was “HOT”. She wasn’t wrong!
So what’s the difference between SoulCycle and other spin studios?
The biggest thing I would say is the experience. Its 45 minutes of killin’ it with amazing instructors who know how to push you to the limit. It’s the feeling of accomplishment and peace, leaving with a smile on your face and the ability to conquer anything. You’re buying into the image and way of life that SoulCycle represents.
The studios are beautiful and the equipment is well taken care of (you don’t wipe down your bike, someone else cleans it properly). There are no bells and whistles otherwise. No flashy lights. No TV screens.The spin classroom is larger than most I’ve seen, with 50+ bikes.
The instructors don’t stay on the bike for the entire class. Rather, they’ll hop on and off, spur on all the riders in the class, correct form and give motivation.
I’ve had one really tough class and one class that was just average. Like most studios, it will depend on the instructor for the intensity of the ride. Many reviews I read suggested that the actual spin class wasn’t that tough compared to most spin classes.
The biggest difference is the vibe of the studio. It’s more of a fun dance class mixed with spirituality. Which makes it one of the fun-est spin class’s I’ve taken.
Either way, I think it’s definitely worth a try! You never know, you may love it (or hate it). Trying new things and pumping up your endorphins is never a bad thing.