A celebrity hotspot where David Beckham, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Anderson Cooper, Tom Cruise, Alessandra Ambrosio, Oprah and the likes (someone took time and digged around Instagram to prove that these guys do indeed love the place), pay $30 per class to break a sweat, SoulCycle has become a mecca for those who look for more than an indoor spin class.
A community? A lifestyle? A cult? A religion? Instead of waiting for SoulCycle to come to London I decided to stop by its Palo Alto location for a workout with Steph and see what all the hype is about.
Welcomed by a very friendly team at SoulCycle Palo Alto located at Stanford Shopping Centre, I was handed in a pair of clip-in shoes (free for first-timers, $3 rent afterwards) and headed into the darkness of a large studio that can host up to 52 riders and an instructor.
If you are new to a spin class on a stationary bike and clip-in shoes, don’t worry as SoulCycle staff will help you set up to make sure you are seated correctly. My class instructor Steph double checked on the newbies and welcomed us (me) by name so I immediately felt part of the family. 🙂 Having done dozens of spin class workouts back in London, I was ready to remind some of my muscles what they exist and shake those delicious evenings spent in gourmet getaways at SXSW (including the ultimate Austin must-have: a Gordough’s donut burger). Or is it only about working out and breaking a sweat?
In the class
Kicking off the SoulCycle class, with her bike placed in front of the room fool of people who seemed to be more than ready to sweat it out, and surrounded by candles, our instructor Steph started with checking that everyone is set and ready to rock and turned the music up while lights went down.
Starting with a mild stretch and a jog to warm up your body, the workout unfolds to include intense climbing, sprinting, pushups, upper body work with light weight dumbbells and pushups on the bike. Most importantly, Steph guided the group and cheered us up (including calling certain people by name as many riders are regulars and instructors know them and their style). Steph also got off her bike and ran around the room to cheer people up individually and correct their posture and moves for them to get to the right body weight distribution, get the right muscles to work and get the best of their workout. (There are also classes for beginners where you can learn the right technique.)
To maximise the impact of the exercise on your body it’s important to pay attention to your body alignment. The essence of the workout is that you heavily involve your core and legs while giving an intense workout to the full body.
If it sounds like the class it too much for you to handle, don’t worry: it’s what you put into this so if you feel like it’s too much turn the intensity down and if you feel you can do more – TURN. IT. UP! You won’t notice how 45 mins (or 1 hour depending on the class) will run by!
Why the hype?
SoulCycle’s mantra says that “Your Soul Matters” and “We Aspire to Inspire”. Bringing joy into fitness, the classes not only get you to work out: in the words of SoulCycle, they ‘help you set intention’ and ‘break through boundaries’.
Working out in the dark room, there is no judgement and no pressure: you work in your own pace with the intensity that is good for you while feeling part of the community of people who are there to set the right tone to their fitness routine and get their fitness kick on while letting the mind rest and forget about your problems and pressures of day-to-day life. While you are in the class, you are taking your soul on a ride.
The pain and the gain
Having spent $30+ and 500-700+ calories per class at SoulCycle, you will gain positive attitude and realise that you found a place where you can not only burn fat but also get your fitness and life mojo back in the community of likeminded people.
Some people previously criticised SoulCycle for its elitism (not everyone can afford $30+ per class) and effectiveness of dance moves in the workouts was questioned. While I cannot comment on the price without knowing how much you are ready to invest into your health and happiness (plus SoulCycle offers various plans here), having done loads of spin classes in London and having now tried SoulCycle, I can say that for me it’s one of the most fun and effective ways to stay fit. This is one hour when I am totally tech-free (there is no way or time to look at your phone), my legs are spinning to the beat and my head is free of the day-to-day worries.
SoulCycle tribe spins in 57 studios across United States including NYC, Chicago, LA, Hamptons, Miami, San Francisco and many more so you can find the one that hits your spot. Enjoy!
Address: 600 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304