The other day I was writing a blog post on hip and/or trendy things I didn’t understand, and the number 1 thing on the list was SoulCycle. In case you haven’t been enlightened, it’s this relatively new exercise class that combines spin with a whole laundry list of other things (like motivational speaking and pilates), and tbh I thought it sounded like total B.S. I felt like there weren’t really many legitimate ways to spice up spin class. Granted, I had never actually been to one, but I’ve ridden a bike, and it’s always seemed like a pretty straightforward activity.
In the post, I railed against all the SC devotees as people who were probably super into CrossFit a few years ago. They were just chasing the trend, I was sure. Apparently loads of celebrities do SoulCycle, but they can afford to pay $30 for a glorified spin class, so I chalked it up to spending money for money’s sake.
As I read over what I had written, it struck me as a little obnoxious to spend several hundred words criticizing something I had never experienced. At the very least, I reasoned, I would have more fodder for my critique if I went to a SoulCycle class. I figured I would go, feel like dying because I am never as in shape as I think I am, and then go home and tidy up my post with a few new, hard-fought zingers.
I walked into the SoulCycle location nearest to my house in Brooklyn (the Williamsburg one, if anyone’s curious) fully prepared to suffer through the next hour. I have pretty high social anxiety in general, so the prospect of telling all the toned, exercise-y people at this trendy mecca that I was a first-timer and needed help did not thrill me. I had done my research online before going, and I knew all about how you have to rent special shoes that clip into the pedals and how you have to make sure your bike is adjusted appropriately. Honestly, my clumsiness is so pathological that it borders on a disease—I was way more worried about getting on and off the bike than I was the actual class.
Luckily, I picked a weekday morning and got there early, so it was desolate when I walked in. I’m pretty sure I was actually hyperventilating (I’m a mess), but I held my head high and went up to check in. And they were lovely and so understanding! They were everything you ever wanted from your guidance counselors but never got! They helped me get set up and talked to me about their first classes and made me not feel like an insane person!
Disclaimer: everything else I have to say about SoulCycle could be punctuated with multiple exclamation points. I totally drank the Kool-Aid, you guys.
I’m not going to give you a play-by-play of my first class (or any of my subsequent classes) because it wouldn’t do them justice AND because I want everyone to experience SoulCycle for themselves.
(I swear I am not being paid to advertise for them.)
Since my first class, I have not gone more than 48 hours without SoulCycle. I had my birthday a few days after I started, and all I asked for from my family were SC classes. I have been to multiple locations in both New York and L.A., and they’ve all been great. Even though I’ve tried out several different instructors in each place, I’ve started to find the ones that I really connect with and I plan my classes around their teaching schedules. If I could afford it (or if I win the lottery, fingers crossed), I would go to SC at least once a day.
“No, but seriously, what is it?” You’re probably wondering. And, I mean, it is a glorified spin class, but in the best way possible. It’s really hard to explain what makes it so great, and almost every time I try, I just end up bouncing in my seat with a stupid grin on my face, repeating “it’s amazing, it’s just so amazing, it’s amazing.” I had dinner with my dad the other day, and I’m pretty sure he’s wondering when I found time to develop a stutter.
Not only do you spin at SoulCycle, but the instructors also incorporate choreography, pilates, strength training (with arm weights that sit on a rack on the back of your bike), and pure, unadulterated inspiration. That sounds cheesy, but there’s no way to explain the spiritual aspect of SC without sounding cliché, so I’m just going to lean into it. In one of my first classes, we were working through a particularly difficult section, and the instructor yelled, “get on team you!” I’m not sure why, but that really resonated with me. Whenever I’m having a hard day at work, or my hormones go crazy and I start crying because Zayn left One Direction, I tell myself to “get on team me,” and I feel better. Like, instantly.
In general, SoulCycle makes you feel like a superhero physically, mentally, and spiritually. I mean, I won’t lie to you—it’s really hard, but by the time you leave, you feel stronger in every possible way. One day I genuinely couldn’t tell if I was sweating or crying, but somehow that was positive instead of negative. And you know you’ve had a good workout when later that day, sitting up in a chair engages your core in a vaguely painful way.
Now that I’ve tried it, I totally understand the blind devotion of people who ride. If you have had a conversation with me in the past 2 weeks, I’ll give you $20 if I didn’t mention SoulCycle at some point. I’m only saying that because I 100% talk about it with every person I meet. The other day someone asked me for directions on the subway, and I still managed to fit it in.
So yeah, SoulCycle might be a modern-day cult, but if it is, sign me up and call me Kimmie Schmidt.
Not to mention, my butt has never looked better.