We are not built to be sedentary. We are not meant to be alone. We are pack animals, and we are meant to move.
Given the way we live today, many of us are blind to these primal traits. But if we spend some time doing a little “soul” searching, we’ll eventually see we are ignoring our basic human nature.
For this reason alone, it’s no wonder the spinning studio, known as SoulCycle, has gone from cult status to mass obsession.
SoulCycle’s wheels first started spinning ten years ago in NYC, infatuating a herd of devoted followers who became addicted to the unique experience that is SoulCycle.
Photo Courtesy of SoulCycle
Now, lately, we’ve heard some grumpy heads complain about Soul going corporate by partnering with the high-end gym, “Equinox.” People don’t like that their once hip and exclusive club has rapidly infiltrated urban areas. Here in Massachusetts alone, we have three studios; Chestnut Hill, Back Bay, and this upcoming Wednesday the 24th, a new studio in Beacon Hill.
But, here’s the big truth folks, when something is awesome, people catch on and want to be part of it. And, SoulCyle is awesome.
Each class meets that innate desire to be part of a pack. A group of human beings engaging with each other to obtain a common goal. Think of an oddly-shaped millipede, where each leg needs to work in conjunction with the one next to it to progress. This moving, grooving, and sweating amoeba starts to become one. And, somewhere during this progression of unity, between the thumping music and candlelit space, something spiritual happens. That physical energy being pushed on and pulled out of that wheel reaches deep inside of your core and pulls things out of your soul you didn’t know you were harboring, and yes, you cry. Trust us. At least once, you will cry.
Photo Courtesy of SoulCycle
And that is why it’s called SoulCyle. It’s also why it’s one of the biggest and hottest fitness trends ever. Because as we stated earlier, it’s awesome. So, don’t knock it because it’s popular, accept it because people love it and it makes them feel so good!
Besides being awesome, Soul can also be intimidating. Instructors push hard. And, there’s an element of dance and coordination, adding to the challenge.
So, when we were given the opportunity to take the new class, Soul 101, at the Back Bay studio, we were all over it like a “fly on a wheel.” 🙂
We arrived at the Back Bay studio to receive a warm welcome from staff. We instantly fell in love with manager, Becca, who was exceptionally accommodating!
Inside of the hallowed studio, we met our two instructors for the evening, Sara and Jeff R. If you’ve never taken a class, you should know that each instructor posses an infectious charisma and motivational quality of Olympic standards. These two were no exception.
Sara and Jeff gave us a quick run down of the class, first, we would learn the technical basics of the class, and then we would get a chance to ride!
Proper settings ensure your body will get the most out of the class and help prevent any injuries. There are three basic settings; seat height, seat length from handlebars, and handlebar height. Once you locate your assigned bike, stand to the right of the bike and do the following:
- Locate the seat adjustment knob, which is directly under the front of the seat. Lower or raise the seat so that it is parallel with the top of your hip bone.
- Using your forearm as a measuring tool, place your elbow at the end of the seat and point in the direction of the handlebars. This distance, plus one inch is how far the seat should be from the handles. Use the knob on the back of the seat to adjust and pull the seat either forward or backward to meet this measurement.
- Lastly, your handlebars should be about an inch above the seat height. You are now ready to “clip-in!”
NOTE: If you’re unsure if you’ve correctly set up your bike, grab a staff member. They are always present during the start of class and are there to help!
TIP: Make note of your settings, i.e., how many “holes” are visible on the handlebars and the number of the seat distance from the handlebars. This will make setting up your bike more expeditious during your next ride. Soul will also keep your settings on file, and if you’re running late, staff is happy to set up your bike for you.
Photo Courtesy of SoulCycle
Once your bike is set for your personal ride, hop into the seat. Next comes one of the hardest parts of the class, “clipping” the shoe into the pedal. There are three metal parts on the bottom front sole of the shoe, positioned in a triangular shape. Locate the triangular grip on the pedal, and push until you hear a click. Honestly, we can’t really provide much guidance, other than it takes a little bit of practice. Trust us, it does get easier the more frequently you ride. The studios rent the shoes for $3.00, but, eventually, you may want to buy your own.
One of the biggest focuses and benefits of the Soul 101 class was the focus on proper form. Without proper form, you won’t maximize the class’s potential, or worse, might end up with a sore back.
Jeff and Sara took the time to check in with each rider to make sure everyone understood the terminology for hand placement (first, second, and third position), and that all of the riders’ bodies were correctly aligned for a given position. This personal attention definitely helped to correct the things we were doing wrong, making us more confident during the class!
SoulCycle is all about rhythm; it is dancing on a bike. (Seriously, in some of the harder classes they literally pedal to a waltz rhythm.) This is part of what makes it so fun, and so challenging. So, here’s what we learned, don’t stress out too much if you can’t get your arm movements or bounce moving and grooving like the front row and side bar. Just concentrate on catching the beat on whichever leg the instructor has indicated. Eventually, you’ll figure out the arm movements and before you know it, you’ll be crunching and clapping with the best of them!
Jess has been taking SoulCycle for about a year-and-a-half, after being introduced by her good friend Ali. Jess was hooked pretty quickly and credits the class with helping her find her way back to a fitness routine, while also helping her to face her broken heart. Whenever she can, she now takes off Monday afternoons to spin off her fanny with a few good friends. They then have lunch at Brio, which is filled with the support, giggles and of course love that can only come from good friends! (BTW- shout out to our awesome server Justin. :-))
But, still, despite, all of that spinning under her belt (or butt), the 101 class was still incredibly informative. Who knew you didn’t actually “tap” the seat when “tapping it back”? Rather, a “tap back” movement is described as if someone has punched you in the gut, pushing your core backward and your tush toward the back of the room. This was literally a revelation for Jess.
Kimberly, who had never “clipped” into a Soul class, loved it! Kim has taken spin classes before and always enjoyed it. But, she recognized immediately SoulCycle is not your average spin class. How could it be? Soul challenges participants with choreography and weights, all while cycling. But, for Kimberly, what sets SoulCycle apart is what they leave you with internally. Their energy and enthusiasm for what they do is intoxicating.
They say this is they year of intent; purge anything that makes you feel down and stunts your personal growth and instead fuel your life with your passions! If you are unsure of what they are, get out there and get moving. Kim knew she was in the right place for her current mindset when she heard the instructor Sara say, “Get out there and surprise yourself.” Sara spoke right to Kimberly.
Sara made Kim question the things in her life that she is allowing to keep her in partial darkness. Kim had her “Soul” moment. She wants to be a light like those instructors; she wants that energy and zest for life Sara so confidently posses; she wants to find purpose.
Sara gave a little on her background about how she came to be a SoulCycle instructor. She was working a corporate job in New York City, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled. One day as fate would have it, after booking SoulCycle classes for other people, she decided to see what SoulCycle was all about herself. Kim says if she can’t convince you that SoulCycle can be life changing this will: after taking a few classes, Sara left her corporate job and got herself a job as an instructor at SoulCycle! Three years later, she leaves us with something to think about,”Get out there and surprise yourself!” Sadly, Kimberly lives about an hour away from SoulCycle. So, for her, a class is a special trip and gift to herself when she wants a challenge on a fitness level and also to nourish her soul.
Our overall take? Soul 101 is a great introduction to anyone intimidated by the notoriously challenging workout that is SoulCycle. It’s also a great confidence booster for newer riders and a wonderful refresher for existing riders. But, if you’re going to take Soul 101, you must then mentally and financially make a commitment to take one to two more classes, so you can really get a feel for the class, and then hopefully, have your “soul” moment.
Kimberly & Jess
A monstrous thanks to SoulCycle for inviting us into the Back Bay studio and for providing some of these great photos! Also, thanks to the Chestnut Hill staff for always being so smiley and helpful. Especially, to Laura for helping make this post happen. Also, thanks to the riders who posed for the photos. Happy spinning folks!