Review: SoulCycle

by agirlandhermutt on May 13, 2014

If I could transfer my love of spinning to a love of outdoor cycling, I would be all set. Spinning is my love. I can’t get enough of it. Plus, I’m pretty dang good at it too!

Outdoor biking? Well, let’s just say I’m improving and leave it at that.

One reason I enjoy spinning so much is because there is such a variety of classes out there! For quite some time I was a Sweat & Soul devotee. I’m still a fan, but after a particularly gnarly incident with a broken clip on one of their bikes I’m a little shy of going back.

I decided to take a break and do a little bouncing around spinning studios.

My latest experiment was at Soul Cycle in Chestnut Hill.

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My first trip was with the Boston Bloggers group for a rainy Sunday ride and the second time was with the Boston Brunchers. The space is white, sleek and extremely clean. I have the feeling that almost every Soul Cycle is like this, but it also helps that this place recently opened near the beginning of March.

There are just two bathrooms and two showers so come prepared to wait or just leave a hot sweaty mess. There are lockers with built-in locks available which I enjoy. I’m not a fan of the cubby hole method for keeping my belongings secure while I’m in class. That just is asking for my crap to get stolen.

The hallways are a bit narrow so it can be quite the challenge to maneuver around in between classes. With each class holding 55 people the space quickly starts to have a claustrophobic feeling with people coming out and others going in. It also gets a bit humid with all those sweaty bodies. Secretly I kind of like that. <—I’m so gross!

They also have a pretty epic retail area. Their clothing is well designed and most is printed on Lululemon clothing. They have a black SoulCycle logo printed on a Cool Racerback tank that would have gone home with me if they had my size.

The vibe of the SoulCycle room is kind of like a positive reinforcement dance club. The lights are low. There are positive mantras on the wall. The music has started. There are candles burning.

Wait, WHAT?! Yes, candles. The instructors are brave folks to be working out near open flames. There is one rule at my house and it is “No open flames”. Candles freak me out. Luckily there were no mishaps and I didn’t have to save anyone from burning to death. Phew. It does give the room a nice glow that is both cozy and totally cool.

The bikes themselves are quite lovely. They are branded from tip to toe and all set up with a clean towel when you arrive.

Bike adjustments were easy to do and I found that both bikes I was assigned to had operating knobs, clips and no funky pieces missing. They rode really smooth and the actual build of the bike was perfect for my body frame. Unfortunately, bike break-down is something I run into a lot at some of my gym class spin classes. Of course, when you consider how much you are paying for each class these suckers better be running like gold, right?!

There are no cages on the SoulCycle bikes so you will have to wear spinning shoes and “clip in”. Shoes are available to rent for $3/class. For those of you completely creeped out by rented shoes then bring your own and just make sure they are delta clip or SPD compatible. The shoes fit nicely into the clips and I didn’t feel like they were loose at any point throughout the class.

The class starts exactly on time (yesss!) and instantly I notice two things.

1. I LOVE the music.
2. I HATE being directly behind someone in spin class.

The man in front of me had gas. Like whoa gas. I realize that is not SoulCycle’s problem, but it just made the class ROUGH. Look, I know things happen, but if they are happening over and over and over then it is time to step it outside! I found myself wishing I was on the back row that is a bit more elevated than the other few rows near the front.

The bikes are directly in line with one another instead of alternating rows so his butt was tapping back into my face for the majority of the class. Awesome.

Speaking of rows, you can pick your seat when signing up online. I didn’t get a chance to participate in the online scheduling process since both of my classes were with groups so I can’t tell you how easy/difficult that process may be.

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My first class was with an instructor named Todd. Straight out of LA, Todd was a great instructor for an introduction to SoulCycle. In class the focus is on the music and really finding the beat to set your speed.

According to the website, Todd “delivers a nurturing energy mixed with sexy athletic soul” to his classes. Well…how about that. I definitely agree that he brings the nurturing energy to his classes. Throughout our class he encouraged us to close our eyes, find the beat and really focus on why we were there. If you have ever set an intention in yoga then you would do great with this. He had that whole sexy thing down pat too, but that isn’t what we are hear to talk about, right?!

At first I was kind of thrown off by the positive talk. And his lovely bouncy hair. I’m more of a loud music, just ride kind of gal. But as the class went on I found myself getting into it. I also could NOT STOP WATCHING HIS HAIR. Fascinating.

I was pushing a bit harder, finding my groove with the music and really thinking about how I wanted to feel at the end of the class. By the end of the class I was a sweaty mess and feeling really proud of the work that I put into the ride.

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My second round with SoulCycle was with an instructor named Molly. She is also out of California. She mentioned she was heading back there soon during our class. Does this mean that some of the more popular instructors aren’t permanent and just there for the opening?!

Molly has one of those voices that is just made for the mic. She started talking and I instantly loved her.

The class started quickly with tap backs, crunches, and really just getting into the rhythm with the music. It wasn’t too long before she whipped her tshirt off and flung it off to the side. I was in awe. Then a little frightened because of the burning flames on the candles. Then awe again.

SHE WAS AMAZING!

Her class was the perfect mix of inspirational, straight talk and good ol’ fashioned hard pumping music.

Both Todd and Molly were really approachable after class and were more than happy to answer questions. I also really liked that they were up and around the room before class helping set up bikes. It was a nice touch in such a large class.

At the end of both of the classes they let people know we are going into the stretch portion of the class (1 song) so if you needed to leave early, please go then so as not to disturb everyone. Very savasana-like.

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One piece that I had a tough part with in both classes was the choreography. There were tons of push-ups, crunches and tap backs. Tapping back…got it. Crunches and push-ups? Not so much. I did the best I could and just tried to stick with it. I get flustered when I can’t pick something up immediately and crunches on the bike do NOT come naturally to me.

Another problem I had was with the weights portion of the class. It is only one song but I didn’t realize until I was already through the class that you could get different sized weights. I had 1lb weights and really would have preferred a bit heavier. Nothing crazy, but maybe 2s or 3s? I realized after the 2nd class that you could trade out your weights from the bins around the instructors bike. Lesson learned.

Let’s chat about something that I just can’t get over…the price.

1st class= $20
Individual class= $30
5 classes= $145
10 classes= $280

Shoe Rental= Free for 1st class & $3 every class after

There doesn’t seem to be an unlimited monthly pass? But I could be wrong.

Just for reference, FlyWheel costs $28/class and comes with your shoe rental.

There is something to be said for the unique feeling that boutique fitness classes provide and I do enjoy them, but at $30 a class I would expect to have my shoes included. I also wish the first class was free, but it isn’t the end of the world.

Although the Chestnut Hill location isn’t the most ideal spot for me to visit, they do have free parking, a nice restaurant (Brio!) and a brand new Wegman’s next door. That is certainly a bonus.

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Final Thoughts…

SoulCycle is an amazing workout and cycling class. They have great music and wonderful instructors. It is a completely unique cycling experience. However, I have to be in the mood for it. There are times when I want to just spin my little heart out and work as hard as possible. I don’t need motivation or encouragement. Other times, I do need that little boost. That is when SoulCycle is just what my body (and mind!) needs. I will definitely be back for more classes, to try other instructors and hunt down that fun tanktop, but at such a steep price I can’t make it a weekly event. So sad!

If SoulCycle ever joined up with ClassPass then I would be all over that!

*Fun Tip Alert!* Follow SoulCycle on Spotify for some really great playlists that are fantastic for the gym. They are my go-to channel right now!

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Big thanks to SoulCycle,  Boston Bloggers and the Boston Brunchers for arranging classes for our groups. We received classes for free and no other compensation, but as always, opinions are my own.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Liz @ EatingPlaces May 20, 2014 at 11:51 am

Great review of SoulCycle! I can’t believe the price, either.

You’re so strong to be able to have used heavier weights. I think mine were 1 lb (maybe 2?), and I was dying by the end of that song!

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