Adventure of the Week: SoulCycle

This was a tough week to pick just one new adventure – we’ve had so many! Even as I typed the title of this post, I felt torn about choosing SoulCycle as my feature. Other choices that came to mind were our weekend adventures with my parents to Muir Woods and the Benziger Winery in Sonoma; our Monday night spur-of-the-moment detour to Goorin Brothers Hat Shop (we won a free hat!) and the Alembic for shots and a pint; or last night’s Giants game. But, I’m going with SoulCycle because at the moment, it feels the most foreign – i.e. the whole time I was there, I felt like the country girl (in my Target workout gear) with the city crew (in their hip, form-fitting top of the line Lululemon getup).

One of my best friends from college, Laura, texted me on Monday and asked if I wanted to go with her to a SoulCycle class this week. If you aren’t familiar with the brand, SoulCycle is a private spinning studio that has studios in LA, NYC, and San Francisco. Just by the locations, you can sense it’s a trendy place to see and be seen. Rumor has it, Jake Gyllenhaal is an instructor in an NYC studio… Anyway – not to get my your hopes up, but there were no celebrity sightings in this class. However, the promise of a workout that is tougher than any old spin class at the YMCA…was fulfilled.

Before I even start on the workout (think push ups on the bike, weights under the seat that you use to do zillions of curls while spinning), you have to picture the setting.

You walk into the studio and there are about 60 bikes all fit neatly into a tiny room.

Here's a pic of the bike studio.

Here’s a pic of the bike studio.

There are candles (yes, candles!) lit at the front of the room – ours gave off a light scent of lemongrass. And all the lights are out. Now – if you’re like me, and this is you first time riding, there are some pros and cons to the lights being out:

  • Pros – No one else can see me when I am seriously struggling to keep up with the demands of the instructor. And yes, I do struggle.
  • Cons – I can’t really see how to set up my bike or how to clip in my shoes (which I’ve never done before). I will say though, they do have employees who quickly come to your rescue if you’re struggling to get your seat adjusted (like me).

So, the lights are out, the candles are lit, and the music is LOUD. Think like, in a dance club loud. I’ve actually never been to a dance club – because, you know, I’m a small town Carolinas girl – but, if I can imagine what a club would sound like, this is it. SoulCycle works hard to create an environment that is both energizing – yet at the same time, a bit zen (those candles!).

The classes are 45 minutes, which seemed like forever when I signed up. But once I got in there, it flew by. Mainly because you are up and down off the bike, doing push-ups on beat with the (fast!) music, working out your arms with those little hand weights I mentioned, and generally just thinking about nothing but getting through to the next song.

It was an amazing workout. I sweat a gallon. It was disgusting. They are serious on the website when they tell you to bring water. Bring water and drink your water before hand. It was rough. Afterwards, I almost felt embarrassed that I was there with Laura because I felt so disgustingly sweaty. On the bright side, at least I got a good workout.

At the end of the day, my assessment of SoulCycle is that it is one tough workout that gives you a run for your money (and yes – this matters a LOT since it’s 30 bucks a pop). Because it’s so expensive and, you know, I’m a teacher so I make next to nothing, I probably won’t be back on a regular basis – but for that once a month splurge when I want to switch up my workout routine with something different, super challenging, and fun – this will be it.

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