You have no doubt heard about SOULCYCLE the 45-minute indoor cycling workout that is part exercise, part dance party, part spiritual pump up. With crisp, clean studios in New York, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, the workouts are designed to tone your entire body-especially your abs-while providing a powerful dose of affirmation, all while riding together to the beat of the music.
No matter which location you choose, the formula is consistent: cheerful check-in staff offer water and cycling shoes, lockers, restroom and showers are available and the basic etiquette is on display. (We love #3) In class, bikes are tightly lined in rows facing the instructor, pre-set with towels (you will need this!) and weights (for the arm section) with staff available to help adjust your bike. The ambiance is intense: a dim room lit by candles enclosed by walls posting inspirational words which, eventually, vibrate to the instructor’s personalized soundtrack-everything from classic rock to hip hop. The people next to you are your friendly competitors, there encourage you to ride faster, lift heavier, and sing a little louder. There is no chit–chat allowed, however shouts and hoots are encouraged by the instructor. (Earplugs also available if the noise level is a tad much.)
Like any popular trend, this one comes with fierce loyalists and equally fierce naysayers, and it’s not for everyone.
If you’re ready to give it a spin, here’s what we recommend:
1. Sign ups for the week open on Mondays at noon. You will be able to see immediately which are the most popular instructors. Choose a class that is less popular or at an off time-it’s less intimidating.
2. Once online, choose your bike. Ride in the middle back row facing the instructor-don’t hide in a corner. Trust us on this.
3. Arrive 10 minutes before class to get oriented-when classes change over it is a frenzy-so avoid the rush. Cycling shoes are free for your first class and are required. Two minutes before the class starts, all seats not checked in are open. This means that if you are late and don’t call ahead, your bike can be taken by a walk-in. There are no refunds.
4. Ask for help with setting your bike, even if you have taken spin or similar classes before. Make sure the weights under your seat are comfortable to use for an entire song. If in doubt go for the 2 lbs.
5. Hold your head high. By looking down you miss the visual cues that allow you to ride with the room as a group. Try and stay with the beat, it will keep you with the group and will shift your focus from the intensity to the fun.
6. Prepare to sweat-a lot-and be sure to hydrate during class. Don’t make plans right after class-you’ll need a shower.
7. Be prepared to have fun. While their methods are serious, and the instructors intensely trained (mandatory 12 week training) the atmosphere is energetic and fun.
Are you feeling it? Share your experience in the comments!