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The Truth About SoulCycle

August 6th, 2012 1 Comment

I’m writing a piece for The Huffington Post about visiting spin studios when you travel. It’s a fun thing to add to your itinerary and helps you stay in shape while you’re on the go.  SoulCycle, the wildly popular NYC spin studio where I taught from 2007-2009, seems to be the source of the resurgence of private spin studios.

It’s hard to articulate the SoulCycle experience – dark room, loud music with a heavy beat, Swinn bikes lined up close together, inspirational instructor, dynamic ride that you can only do on an indoor bike – all of that sounds predictable.  But the SoulCycle ride accesses some part of you that is screaming to get out and play!  In the darkness, you can open yourself up to a personal journey and catharsis I’ve never felt in any other group fitness class.  (Read one rider’s experience here).  With this final piece and flawless branding, they’ve created a cultish following that packs their studios every hour and generates tons of press to the point that SoulCycle seems perfect.

As and instructor there for 3 years and a person who knows that nothing in life is perfect, I thought I’d give you the honest-to-goodness truth about Soul Cycle.  

1.  The ride is in fact the most exciting, uplifting, and fun fitness experience I’ve ever known.  Period.  It’s not THE HARDEST;  it ‘s the one that keeps you mentally in shape to keep up your fitness routine.  In other words, worth every penny.


2.  If you allow yourself to let go of your to-do list in your head and get lost in the ride, you will change as a person.

3.  Riding as a “posse” and not doing your own thing, you will ride harder and get stronger.  Follow their instructions and learn how to ride their way.

4.  Spinning does not make your legs “bulk up.”  Think about it, it’s thousands of repetitions with light resistance that tones your legs, not make them huge.

5.  Their many movements to make the class more dynamic and fun helps to isolate muscle groups, strengthen your core, and pull in your waistline.

6.  All instructors are not created equal, but they’re pretty darn close.  I like: Stacey, Laurie, Kym, Lori A, Janet, Melanie, and Sue.

7.  You can’t rely on the class to be your only source of fitness.  Even though the class includes an “arm segment” where you use weights to tone your muscles, it’s a cardio workout and you need to lift weights on other days.

8.  You don’t burn as many calories in a spin class as you think you do.  According to my heart rate monitor, I only burned around 420 per class (45 minutes), which is what I usually burn when I lift weights for 1.5 hours.  In an hour BLAST900 class, I burn 600 calories.

9.  FlyWheel was started by one of the founders of SoulCycle, Ruth Zuckerman, who I love and admire as a woman. I used to take her class often because that woman has serious soul.  Ruth had to change the game to make her Flywheel different.  By adding a computer to the bike, your ride focuses on RPMs and the power you are actually exerting.  There is a big screen overhead so you can see how you compare to others in the room. The ride itself is in no way as introspective or as fun, in my opinion, but it’s challenging.  If you don’t know SoulCycle, FlyWheel is a solid ride I bet will be a 100 times more exciting and productive than whatever your gym offers.

10.  The SoulCycle family is not as inviting as you might want it to be.  All of the staff works hard and efficiently.  If you want in on a more personal level to join the inner circle party, you’ll have to make the effort to get to know the instructors and the other riders.  When you do, you’ll appreciate the connection.

When I write the HuffPo piece you’ll have more perspective on what other studios offer in different cities.  Unfortunately there’s not a lot out there that’s why you should make an effort to spin when you travel to the big cities. If you’re in NYC or LA, you now know where to go :)

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