SoulCycle is the newest fitness trend, with an impressive celebrity following. It promotes itself with such phrases as “Your Soul Matters” or “We Aspire to Inspire”, and its goal is to convince you that exercise can be “joyful”.
It's Yoga meets Spin class! Well, not exactly. It's designed to be a spiritual journey that addresses both your physical and mental health. The lights are dimmed and the candles are lit.
But, that's where it's similarity to Yoga ends. You won't be guided through slow, controlled, relaxing Asanas by the soothing, melodic voice of your instructor. Quite the opposite!
What is SoulCycle
SoulCycle is 45 minutes of intense cardio that works every part of your body. You will move quicker, work harder, breathe faster, and sweat more than you ever thought possible. You will jump, do push-ups and crunches, climb hills, and use dumbbells. Who knew you could do all that on a stationary bike?
And, the low-light environment will be charged with the beat of heart-pumping music, the cheers of your fellow classmates, and the voice of your instructor who will be shouting (to be heard over the loud music, cheers, and you own desperate gasps for air) affirmations and encouragements meant to challenge you to greatness.
But, although it's loud and energetic, the instructors are not drill sergeants. They push and encourage you to dig deep within yourself and work toward becoming a better YOU. It's all about positive reinforcement and controlling your own destiny.
SoulCycle was founded in 2006 by Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, two women who wanted to create a new cardio program that would benefit both the body and the mind. The result was an indoor, high-intensity cycling workout for the entire body. But, as the name implies, this workout is more than just physical.
It aims to engage both the body and the soul. Based on the belief that “fitness can be joyful”, SoulCycle uses inspirational coaching and music to pump up the participants and lead them on a spiritual journey that will challenge, impassion, and invigorate. It's a “dance party on bike” and, believe me, you will certainly feel it in the morning.
SoulCycle is exclusive. It is popular among celebrities, which means it is also quite expensive. If you are used to paying nominal fees for classes at your gym, then the $30-$40 cost for a single SoulCycle session may be a little difficult to swallow. Registration for classes opens at the beginning of each week, and they fill up fast. Reservations are necessary.
They also sell their own merchandise, which isn't required but often encouraged. If you want to look the part, you have to wear the clothing, although expectations can vary depending on the city, studio, or even the specific instructor.
As expected, since these products are manufactured by higher end brands, they are also expensive. You will pay $50+ for a simple tank top, but keep in mind that SoulCycle is a culture rather than just an exercise program. It's the country club scene of the fitness world.
Go prepared. SoulCycle is an intense workout, so you need to prepare properly. Eat some protein and carbs about an hour ahead of time to give your body the fuel it needs to survive the full 45 minutes. And, don't forget to take lots of water. You will be doing A LOT of sweating, so staying hydrated is a priority.
You will also want to wear clothes that are lightweight, easy to move in, and keep you cool. Some parts of the workout are unbelievably fast so you don't want your clothing hindering your movements.Special shoes are used to help keep your feet firmly attached to the pedals. Again, they are costly, but if you don't own a pair, the studios will be more than happy to rent them to you.
It is a full-body workout. Unlike traditional spin classes, SoulCycle is designed to work your whole body. It's an all-in-one cardio and resistance training. Depending on how hard you push yourself, you can burn 500 to 700 calories per class. That's a pretty good return on 45 minutes of your time. Plus, it can help improve aerobic capacity, detoxify the body (you will sweat so much that the toxins will be eager to escape), and tone muscles.
A positive attitude is required. Although that isn't too difficult to achieve with instructors that are constantly encouraging, affirming, and asking challenging questions. Even the most miserable participant will find it hard not to get into the party. SoulCycle is designed to make you feel empowered, strong, and determined. It fosters a positive body image and a “you can do it” environment.
You must listen to your body. If you aren't used to intense exercise, completing a full-force SoulCycle workout may be expecting too much – at least at first. You will be encouraged to push yourself, but not the point of injury. It's not boot camp. It's about making exercise fun and “joyful”, and achieving positive changes that make you feel good about yourself. Don't risk complete discouragement and frustration. If you need to pedal slower or reduce the tension, go ahead. Remember, the lights are turned down so no one will see you anyway.
While it may be latest trend, SoulCycle continues to expand, with new studios being built all over the country. The fact that it combines aspects of traditional spinning, weight training, core conditioning, cardio, and yoga into one workout makes it one of the most innovative and effective 45 minutes in the fitness world.
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