Soul Cycle – I definitely found my soul!

Soul Cycle

Whilst on a recent visit to see my best friend in New York City, we were sitting in a Brooklyn dive bar discussing our weekend itinerary… Brooklyn flee tick, an American diner tick, little spree in Bloomingdales tick, brunch in soho tick, cycling in Central Park tick. Oh and we MUST do Soul Cycle she said. Now I’d only come over to New York to see my bestie for a mere 5 days, and considering we met in an advertising agency in London years back where all we did was drink wine and smoke Malboro lights for 2 years (I’m healthy now I promise), I was a bit taken aback that she wanted to go to a high energy fitness class whilst on ‘vacation’. Now of course I love me some fitness crazes and health products… but on vacation?! Well she insisted it would be the best fitness experience of my life so I thought what the hell let’s do it.

I learned that Soul Cycle is an indoor cycling come fitness phenomenon that is literally taking America by storm. Described as a ‘cult’ and an ‘obsession’, there are now 14 studios in Manhattan alone with hundreds more planned to open across the US. As described on their website ‘SoulCycle doesn’t just change bodies, it changes lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelight, epic spaces, and rocking music, riders can let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls’. Lady Gaga, Chelsea Clinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Katy Perry, Bradley Cooper and Tom Cruise are among those who pedal away on static bikes in candlelit studios, where participants whoop with excitement, drink in pop psychology and even weep over the handlebars… Give me a bit of that!!

So we booked into the 9am Saturday morning class in the Brooklyn studio (the booking process itself reminded me somewhat of trying to get Glastonbury tickets – hand trembling over the keyboard whilst the spinning wheel determines your fate). I kid you not, another friend who runs a team of 10 girls in an ad agency downtown says that he cannot put any meetings in the diary at 12pm on Monday as this is when the girls have to ‘book into soul’. Yes really, it is that popular.

Arriving at the studio I was pretty excited to see what all the fuss was out. And boy was I not disappointed with the immediate perception. Being a marketer I was instantly sold on the brand. Big illuminated lights saying “FIND YOUR SOUL” sat amongst white and yellow walls and cool sportswear for sale. There were free hair bobbles, chewing gum and even tampons at the reception. The music was blaring, the lights were pulsing and the whole place was buzzing with hyped up riders excited for their class. We paid our 37 dollars for the 45 min class plus water and shoes (yikes) and went into the studio to get set up.

As a first time soul rider, the friendly instructors got me set up on the bike. The lights dimmed down to almost complete darkness. the instructor came up the stage and shouted ARE YOU READY TO FIND YOUR SOUL which was followed by an almighty cheer!

Sould Cycle 2
NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 14 A general view of atmosphere at SoulCycle’s “Ride With Soul” Best Buddies benefit at SoulCycle, Upper East Side on January 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

The class started strong, with a fast paced spin tack accompanied by a booming house remix of Florence and the Machine Ship to Wreck then straight into a remix of Biggie Smalls. After two tracks I was already sweating buckets, but the pain didn’t even phase me like a normal uphill slog at a spin class. This was invigorating. Exciting. Mind-numbingly exhilarating. I was charged with so much energy I thought I was going to lift off the seat. I was already completely in the zone, deep in this community of riders in the dark all peddling fast and singing and screaming to the music.

The enthusiastic almost Disney like performers were what made it. The whole way through the 45 minute class they come out with phrases such as “Be honest about who you are trying to be”. “Every week you bring it guys, you bring it and you make me feel alive”. “I want to feel your hunger for what you want in life, and what you’re prepared to do to achieve it”. I couldn’t help but laugh a little. Bloody love Americans.

After 45 energising minutes, it was over. I was gutted. Was that it already? Who even feels like that after a spin class? Better still I looked down at my Polar Watch and had burned a nifty 620 calories. We skipped out of the studio and were elated for the remainder of our day. I didn’t think it would have such a big affect on me but I had 100% joined the cult….

Well it’s true to say my spin classes back home in Edinburgh have never even remotely compared to this. I definitely found my soul, and can only hope and pray that this phenomenon comes to Edinburgh…

Author Jenny Emslie Photograph

Jenny Emslie

Founder and Managing Director