living in NYC, you’d have to be a hermit to avoid the craze that is Soul Cycle. even if you’re not into it, it’s impossible to miss: you walk by studios in almost every neighborhood, pass people on the street on a regular basis sporting Soul Cycle tights or t-shirts, and chances are prettttty good that some (if not all) of your friends have been bitten by the SC bug.
a few of my girlfriends have gotten really into it, and one of my besties had the fabulous idea of planning a “birthday Soul Cycle ride” for our me and our friend Lauren, who have birthdays just two days apart. because we have such fun & fit friends, a group of girls (and one stellar dude) all met for a 10am class on a Saturday morning in June at the Soul Cycle in the West Village (which is inarguably the best ‘hood in Manhattan).
i’m by no means an avid spinner anymore, but i was psyched for this experience. your first class is just $20 (and you get the shoes for free), which was sweet, and the whole process takes place online: you buy credits for a class and then sign up online, and even choose your bike on the site (which is a cool feature, because we were able to organize it so that we had our 6 bikes in a row, right in the front of the room).
i was a bit uncertain of what to expect, as i’ve gotten to used to working out on my own and haven’t taken a class in a while, and i’ve heard Soul Cycle can be intense and had visions of all these super focused little fit chicks in SC gear with serious faces on like we were going into battle on bikes. i woke up really early that morning and did an hour strength session in my gym and then ran the few miles down along the river from my apartment to the studio, so needless to say, i was more than warmed up by the time i got there. (note to self: maybe don’t do quiiiiite as much exercise prior to a SC class next time.)
- the place is a well-oiled machine. they make the whole process seamless for you, from the online registration/bike choice to signing in and getting your shoes, to someone setting up your bike for you — it’s very well-run, and the staff was sooooo welcoming and nice.
- it feels like a club to which you want to belong. everyone was excited & united by their love for SC, and there was an overall positive energy that was infectious. you really felt that everyone there was exactly where they wanted to be at 10am on a Saturday morning!
- the instructor. i don’t have anyone to compare her to, as this was my first class, but our instructor KC was amazingggg. i almost wouldn’t want to take someone else because i’m sure i’d be disappointed that they weren’t her. she was energetic and encouraging and peppy and personable and just so into it, and she did a fabulous job of keeping us all engaged and talking to us during the class and making it feel like a unified group with a mission.
- the music. i knew going into it that SC is famed for having the best playlists, and it really was awesome. it was like being at a dance party on a bike. the room is just pulsing with the beat and everyone is so into it.
- it’s hard. like, it was a really, really good workout. again, i can only speak for this one class/instructor, but she definitely pushed us hard. i was struggling at times (and dripping sweat the entire class), and it was definitely the most strenuous, varied spin class i’ve ever taken. you really push your body to the limits, and they incorporate choreography (you’re sort of doing push-ups on the bike and alternating between sitting/standing/crouching etc) and free weights, so you’re really working for it.
- it’s pricey. after your first class, it’s $34/class. while i firmly believe in spending money on fitness and finding what works for you, it’s not something i can justify doing all the time, considering i have a gym in my building and i’m dedicated to running regularly (which is free!). i get how it can become an addicting, expensive habit!
- it’s hard. a pro can be a con, too, right? i won’t lie — i had a few moments where i was ready to be like, okay, that’s probably enough for me, i’m just gonna stick with running. sweating in a room full of other people in close proximity isn’t my fave, and i was thankful the girls next to me were my friends. next time, i don’t think i’ll work out for an hour and a half prior to class, because i probably was close to death by cycling at one point.
as you can see, my pros far outweigh my cons, and i left saying i’d definitely take another class (preferably with KC again). one super sweet element of this class was that they made a big thing out of our birthdays, as Alex had prepped them ahead of time, and the instructor announced in the beginning of class that we had a birthday group there, and at the end they lit candles in front of our bikes and brought out cupcakes and sang to us! so sweet.
fitness, girlfriends & my birthday = some of my very fave things separately, so in combination, well — they were pretty wonderful.
as you can probably imagine, i left feeling really great after my first class and stoked to walk home in the lovely June sunshine…and then not a few blocks from the studio, i so aptly stumbled upon this on the street corner:
how awesome is that?! i certainly felt like i’d tapped into my superhuman powers after that workout (don’t you just love that about a hard workout, how amazing it makes you feel?!), so it seemed like that street art was just waiting for me to find it.
this was the perfect way to start my birthday celebration this year, which then continued with a wonderful day spent outdoors at a pier in Hoboken with a big group of friends.