Fitness trends are no new thing—Jane Fonda ruled the ’80s with her leg lifts and exercise videos, and Zumba was all the craze in the early 2000s. Since launching in 2006, SoulCycle has followed the same course, with a large dedicated following of fitness gurus, celebrities, business moguls and more praising the indoor cycling class for its ability to provide a whole body workout in just 45 minutes.
Though I am not athletic, I am an expert at sitting down, so I thought I would at least have that going for me as I headed into a SoulCycle class in Roslyn recently to discover what the hype was behind one of the biggest trends in fitness.
I quickly found out that sitting was not part of the plan my instructor had in mind. The next 45 minutes were a blur of intense cardio and core work, all to an upbeat, club-worthy soundtrack loud enough to drown out my breathless wheezing. The level of difficulty changes throughout the class, as riders change body positions, modify pedal speed, and increase their resistance at the prompting of the instructor. It’s not unusual for the instructors, who often come from dance and performance backgrounds, to jump from their bikes to weave throughout the studio, shouting out encouragement to riders.
The music, and overall environment, is a huge part of what makes a SoulCycle workout unlike any other. Riders ride to the rhythm of the music, and studios regularly offer classes with themed playlists such as Jay Z. vs. Coldplay, Lady Gaga, hip hop or the evolution of Kanye West.
Much to my delight, studios are also very dimly lit, so your fellow riders can’t see how fast you’re going or how drenched you are in sweat. It’s all part of providing a judgment-free zone, said instructor Mark Forkos, who said at SoulCycle, the attention is not on how you compare to people around you, but hitting your own personal benchmarks.
“We’re really trying to push you to feel the challenge for yourself,” said Forkos. “Take a look at yourself on the inside and be better at what you do, so you can be better for everyone else around you.”
The word “soul” in the company name isn’t there arbitrarily either. SoulCycle puts a large emphasis on not just physical health, but mental health as well, with instructors providing motivational adages throughout the workout.
“Soul comes first,” said Forkos. “The bike is just our medium of communication and way of delivering our message of positivity and encouragement and motivation. The workout is the byproduct.”
According to the SoulCycle website, indoor cyclists can burn an estimated 500 to 700 calories during a vigorous 45-minute workout, and with its upbeat, positive environment, it’s easy to see why the classes have garnered a cult-like following. Taking a spin on that yellow bike can cost you a pretty penny though; there are no monthly memberships, just individual classes ($34) and multi-class packages. That cost hasn’t kept the fitness trend from growing however, proving that this is a craze that’ll last much longer than the ThighMaster.
SoulCycle has studios in Roslyn and Woodbury. Find out more by visiting www.soul-cycle.com.