Need to Know
  1. SoulCycle draws a good mix of guys and gals in class
  2. Here's what outdoor cyclists thought of their first class
  3. Not everyone loves the hyped-up, dance-filled spinning style

SoulCycle mania is growing these days, and on one recent Monday evening, the Spright team’s most avid outdoor cyclists braved the studio to see what all the hype is about.

In total, there were ten of us — co-ed, some frequent SoulCyclers and some total newbies, and a few who regularly ride bikes that actually go somewhere. It’s no secret that we have some big SC fans here at Spright  — and have a handy guide of what you need to know to try it out — but we each walked out of the studio after our shared 45 minutes with a different perspective.

Among our group that night: two guys who had never done Soul before but frequently cycle outdoors. We caught up with them after to see how SoulCycle compared to the hype they’d heard.

What did you expect from your first SoulCycle class?

Alex: I expected a tough full-body workout that was part dance club, part cult. I’d heard that there would be a lot of “you can do it, you’re tough, love yourself” sort of inspirational talk.

Carnet: I was expecting really fun music and a good workout. I also heard that it goes by quickly. Molly prepared me by saying it was six songs, then arms for two songs, and then you’re basically done.

What were your first thoughts about the workout after the class?

Alex: It was definitely a workout. I sweated a lot and felt accomplished at the end. But the atmosphere was weird – too much “tough love” talking – and I didn’t really enjoy the style. By the end of the class, I had started doing my own thing and was looking forward to getting out the door.

Carnet: The energy of the class was great. I felt I had a good workout. I wasn’t a fan of all the moving on the bike — the up and down, left and right dancing thing. That was weird. I didn’t think it was as soulful as some people have talked about. It’s just a good workout.

What did you like? Dislike?

Alex: I did like the arms workout portion. Despite not being able to see the instructor, the arm workout had good variety and the right amount of challenge. The guy who helped me set up my bike in the beginning was great. He helped me with what I didn’t know, respected what I did know.

The instructor didn’t provide good cues, so I couldn’t really tell what I should do when. And there wasn’t a lot of variety, so there were stretches where I was just pedaling and got bored. I thought the tempo was off and I couldn’t get into a good cadence of pumping with the music. Overall, it was too crowded and chaotic. I bumped elbows with the person next to me several times, and I often couldn’t see the instructor. The stationary bikes felt poorly made.

Carnet: I really liked the bikes! I’ve been in places where the bikes are really janky, but these felt solid, easy to adjust, and comfortable. It was super cramped but I guess that’s what they’re going after. Honestly if I was leaning forward and the person in front of me leaned back, I’d have a butt in my face. I didn’t like the jerky nature of the moves, especially in the weights section, and thought I was a bit awkward doing them. I didn’t like that our instructor didn’t really explain anything. It was pretty much just teach yourself. The class flew by, and it was fun, but probably not something I will do on a regular basis.

What about this class stood out most to you?

Alex: I can see why some people get into it, and I like the idea of this kind of workout. But it just wasn’t fun.

Carnet: The music was awesome. Everyone was having a good time. The jerky movement and weights didn’t do it for me.

How does it compare to riding outside?

Alex: To me they are two separate activities — and that’s not just SoulCycle, but any indoor cycling class. They don’t really relate to each other, and I don’t expect them to, and that’s fine. Outdoor cycling, I really like going places, the wind in your hair, exploring. Spin classes and SoulCycle are more of an intense workout, more of a party, something you can quickly do with friends.

Carnet: I’d always rather be outside, but two factors would take me to a spin class. One is time — if I don’t have a lot of time I know I can work harder and generate more power in a class. And then when the weather changes, and it’s dark, sure, I’d hop over to SoulCycle or a spin class and crank it out.

Would you go to another SoulCycle class? Why or why not?

Alex: I probably won’t go to another SoulCycle class. I would be willing to try a different instructor, but I’m not really looking forward to it. There’s a different spin studio near me that is smaller, friendlier, cheaper, and more fun – so I’ll just keep going there instead.

Carnet: Probably not. The cost is just a bit too much for me, about the price of a decent bottle of wine. I would rather go to a spin class that focuses on the same technique as riding a bike outside.

But wait! Not all the men in our crew are Soul-averse. Let’s hear from Calvin, the one Spright man who loves his SoulCycle:

Calvin: The first time I did SoulCycle was for a friend’s fundraising event. I thought it was just a regular spin class and I had never done spin before, but since I consider myself pretty fit, I wasn’t worried about the physical challenge. My immediate reaction after the class was “Man, I am soaking wet! I don’t think I have sweated this much before!” Then I felt relieved, motivated, and ready to conquer the world!

It was a really great experience. I felt my instructor tapped into my inner spirit and got me going. I loved the music, the workout, the energy, and the spirit in the room. There was nothing I didn’t like about the class. Cycling is a great core strength workout as well.

Even though he couldn’t join for this class, our cofounder Brian took his daughter to check out SoulCycle the following weekend and shared his thoughts.

The verdict? SoulCycle can be an acquired taste. Instructors say that it takes a few classes to get used to the motions and Flywheel (or alternate spin) or biking outside might be a better option for some riders. Until then, our team will keep trying out classes to see what fits.

Feature Image Source: Business Insider