Thinking about trying SoulCycle but not sure if it’s the right workout for you? I’m breaking down what you need to know for a successful SoulCycle ride and sharing my honest experience about SoulCycle classes. This could definitely stretch beyond just this workout and apply to other indoor cycle workouts. I’ve done several varieties and the tips listed here will help get you through most others as well.
Before we had SoulCycle here in Seattle, I would always sign up and go when traveling to other cities. I love adding exercise as a part of a healthy travel plan, especially during certain months when I am traveling a lot and I can’t get to my gym at home as much. I started going in Chicago and New York so I was so excited when Seattle opened its first SoulCycle in 2018. Now there are several in the area.
I’m no pro-cyclist but I will tell you that I had yet another excellent experience at a SoulCycle class I took this week. In order to make it a smoother experience for you the first time you attend than it was for me (it can be a little confusing!), I’m blogging today about what you need to know for a successful SoulCycle ride.
What is SoulCycle?
SoulCycle was founded by two women in New York City in 2006 and it has taken off in big cities around the country, mainly on the East Coast, Chicago, California, and finally Washington (Austin has a really great one, too). SoulCycle is a 45 minute stationary bicycle class that includes some light weights for part of the workout. The focus of the class is cardio but you actually get a little resistance training from the weights and pedal strokes. Classes are pricey and they do not offer a membership. In Seattle classes are $28 but this ranges depending on what city you live in. You can buy punchcards which reduces the class price a bit. A class typically fits around 50 people and from my experience, the classes are almost always full. One thing is for sure, you can expect to get sweaty.
Designed to be an ‘inspirational workout’ I felt that the SoulCycle experience lives up to what it says it is: motivational, inspirational and team-oriented. I’ve read reviews that SoulCycle can feel cliquey and intimidating. From my experience, the instructors say over and over: we do this together, we’re in this together. High fives and cheers with your water bottles are also encouraged during class which I think is fun. It feels really inclusive to me.
SoulCycle is like dancing on a bike and the atmosphere is so much fun. The room is actually very dark with a few candles lit at the front of the room. The instructor changes the lights ever so slightly during class. I wasn’t sure if I’d like working out in the dark for my first class but I actually loved it. It also made me feel more comfortable as I could truly go at my own pace without worrying about if my neighbor was hitting all their push-ups while pedaling as fast as humanly possible.
SoulCycle is all about the music as well. I loved it and the whole room brightened up when Taylor Swift blasted over the speakers. The music they play also makes the class go by so much faster. The entire class cycles together in-sync to music, also known as rhythm riding (which many spin studios do now). There is a knob on each bike that allows you to increase or decrease your resistance. This means you are really in charge of how hard you want to push yourself, it also makes it very inclusive to all fitness levels.
The very last part of the class is a cool-down/stretch song. This part of class is so important but I’ve noticed many people leaving early. I totally get having a busy schedule, but make time to stretch (your muscles will seriously thank you after this kind of workout) and I love that SoulCycle is building out this time in their workouts.
What You Need to Know for a Successful SoulCycle Ride
- Sign-up ahead of time. Since the classes do get pretty full, reserve your bike ahead of time to ensure you have a spot in class. You also get to choose your spot where you feel most comfortable.
- Be sure to properly fuel before class or work with a dietitian so you know what your body needs for intense exercise.
- Get there early, at least 10-15 minutes early to check in and fill out paperwork.
- If you’re an avid cyclist and have spin shoes, bring your own. SoulCycle does charge extra for shoe rentals and water which makes the class even more expensive. I’ve always rented my shoes but they’re pretty easy to clip into the bike.
- Save yourself time and ask the friendly people at the front desk how to open the lockers. Basically, you find one that’s open by tugging on the handle of as many as needed until you find one. Put your stuff in and close it. Choose your 4-digit code then turn the knob, change the digits and just use the code you set again to get in. Remember your number!
- Seek assistance right away on adjusting your bike and how to clip your shoes in. To get your foot in, you stomp down, toe first and to get it out you twist your heel outwards. There are always helpers in class to make sure you’re adjusted and it will make your ride way better.
- Keep things simple and don’t bring too many items into the room with you. There are towels on each bike for you already. Be sure to bring a water bottle; you’ll really want it during class.
- Stay for stretching! When the stretch song comes on don’t bolt for the door. My first SoulCycle class I couldn’t get the spin shoes to unclip out of the bike…if this happens to you just un-velcro your foot out of the shoe. More people end up doing this than you might think.
Despite all the craziness of figuring out my first class long ago (clipping in, adjusting the bike, feeling like a ‘newbie’), I found the workout to be very fun, challenging, and I got super sweaty. I love, love, love cycling in the dark. The instructor changes the lights throughout the class moving from fully lit to candle-light only and at times completely dark. That was my favorite. The time passed really quickly and it is something I would absolutely do again, anywhere I go.
If you’ve been thinking about trying this workout, definitely sign up – I recommend it. I hope you enjoyed learning about what you need to know for a successful SoulCycle ride.
Tap it back, SoulCyclers, and I hope to see you in a class again soon! If you’re looking for another popular workout to try out – check out what I have to say about my year at Orangetheory.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
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