My Guide To Soulcycle

What Is SoulCycle?

SoulCycle began when Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler were looking for a way to squeeze a great cardio workout into their hectic workday. They believed that combining upper- and lower-body exercise into a cycling routine, while offering top-notch customer service in a beautiful atmosphere, could creat an enduring, inspiring, addictive 45-minute workout. Following their first small studio in New York, they now have 16 SoulCycle studios across the greater New York City area and six in and around Los Angeles.

Here’s My Take:

SoulCycle reminds me a bit of what Johnny G. started in the 1980s with spinning. It was his ability to encourage participants to achieve goals, to get to the finish line, that catapulted spinning into a national fitness c raze. The ride became a metaphor for life and it created unbelievable energy.

SoulCycle brings that full circle. It’s gym exercise wit ha motivational feel, and it has created a new cycling community. Understand, it is a very young, edgy and hip workout, so if you decide to give it a try, go into it with the knowledge that you are entering a whole new atmosphere and just go with and be a part of it!

Immediately upon entering, you feel welcomed, and I love that personal attention. Greeters get you registered and situated on a bike that is adjusted to the right height for you. If you don’t have clip-on cycling shoes you can rent them. (They recommend Look Delta clips, but the pedals are SPD compatible.) There are no cell phones allowed and because the bikes are very close to each other, talking is discouraged. You are asked to follow SoulCycle’s “etiquette” of respect for your neighbors. It is a complete culture of kindness there — I call it the “Disney effect.” Then the lights go down and the music comes up. It can be really loud, so be prepared, but the music is great and you are transported into a progression of exercises that have specific body and hand positions.

Light weights are clipped under the seat that you use for upper-body work. There is some controversy in the fitness community about the benefit, but I see it as a way to wake up the upper body while you are feverishly working your legs; it is not a replacement for weight training, but it helps move you through a class — which seems to pass quickly because there are balanced segments with a lot of diversity, plus a warm-up and a cool-down. You sweat a log, so it’s good to drink water.

The whole atmosphere is very friendly and as in yoga, you set an intention for the class, bring it into your workout, then out into the world. It’s a message that permeates the whole company and its philosophy, and it is carried through in each studio.

SoulCycle classes are big on experience and choreography, but light on cycling instruction. If you are new to cycling, you may want to get some instruction on spinning-style techniques prior to attending — or get there early to familiarize yourself with the equipment.

Spinning is a fluid motion–a pull and a push with each leg (rather than a full transfer of weight to each side) that you learn with time and practice. Thinking quad-hamstring-quad, 360-degree motion, staying balanced over the pedals and not dropping into your shoulders and hands. It’s a lot to think about if you haven’t done spinning before.

If you’re ready to “Find Your Soul,” then experiment with some cycling shorts for comfort. Everybody likes different styles with or without padding, but sittin on a cycle seat for 45-minutes can cause a bit of soreness. Make sure your seat is properly adjusted, and if you need to re-adjust during the class, you can — just be careful to stop completely and unclip your shoes first.

If you don’t like loud music, use the disposable earplugs. I like to find a bike that is not directly in front of the speakers. Let’s face it, as we get older, really loud music isn’t as pleasant as we might have once found it!

SoulCycle has a full line of branded gear, so if you plan to buy workout wear there, expect comfortable but chic options detailed with trendy skulls, bright colors, and strong messaging.

Most of all, have fun! SoulCycle may be today’s newest inspiration, but cycling is ageless!

Make it happen,
Kathy Smith