SoulCycle Determined: Impressions on a first time ride
So I decided to change things up a bit— well, a lot.
I've been training with Jacob Fetty from Cycle-Smart for two months now and while that has been an enlightening and awesome experience, I decided to cash in on a suggestion from a good friend and try a SoulCycle class instead.
I rarely bring up the "I race bikes" conversation (because come on, nobody outside of our little world actually cares). In those moments that I do, I always get the same question:
Have you ever done SoulCycle?
I am definitely not the only one who gets this question, but apparently I was one of the few without an opinion on SoulCycle. My good friend Sarah Joyce works at SoulCycle and has been asking me to join her in a class for a while and I finally decided to take her up on it.
Sorry Fetty, but 2 hours of endurance on a freezing cold weekend is getting traded for 45 minutes of... whatever the hell I signed up for at SoulCycle.
So here is a play by play on how this went for me…
We arrived early, crossing our fingers that there'd be bikes available. Park Slope Soul is busy on Sunday mornings, especially in January, apparently.
I changed into my team bibs and put on my HRM and a team tank top and yeah, I was getting odd looks. I stood out ‘cause of the "outfit" (as Sarah called it), and also probably because I was walking around in circles super awkward not knowing what to do – as if the shaved legs weren’t enough already.
We got confirmation that 2 bikes were open at the last minute, so we dashed in.
Everyone was already warming up when we went into the studio. Me? Super lost. Trying to find "bike #30 and #42" in a dark room is hard. Thankfully someone helped us out and yes, I required further assistance in getting mine set up. I set the seat and the lady said "that's a bit high." She changed it for me, now it was too low. Whatever, it was too late. I got maybe 30 seconds to warm up before we started and started my Garmin.
Immediately, we’re out of the saddle
“I DEFINITELY DID NOT WARM UP ENOUGH”
Turn the knob to the right. Ride to the music. Try to pay attention to the instructor and what other people we're doing to fall in line and not make an ass out of myself. Holy crap there’s so much to pay attention to!!
“GREAT I FORGOT MY WATER BOTTLE”
Still out of the saddle, now we have to spin faster somehow
“AM I ALREADY AT THRESHOLD? THIS FEELS LIKE THRESHOLD”
After the initial rush at the start of the class, I decided to stop worrying about what it felt like. I promised myself I’d give it a real shot and that meant doing everything the instructor said and trying to be in sync with the class. So I focused on that instead:
Everyone was doing the downbeat on their right foot, but I was on my left. So I tried to fix it by coasting and “WHOA THIS THING DOES NOT COAST” – I flailed on the bike trying not to make it obvious that I almost just died
“OK, now I’m in sync with everyone else”
Just when I felt like I had it, we start rocking between leaning forward near the bars and then backwards with butt behind the seat. Easy enough
Rest!! Wow I really needed that
Back up, rock back and forth again but double-time now – I am really starting to feel this in my thighs
What followed are repeat rests and high-intensity moves. Between paying attention and keeping up, this workout was quickly beating me up. Finally, the instructor tells us to increase the resistance and slowly mash at a lower cadence. “Like you’re climbing a big hill.”
Finally, something I know how to do
This “hill climb” part lasted a good while, and I was able to enjoy the experience
“This playlist is actually pretty good”
Then came the arm workout part which was, honestly, kinda fun. My legs were already jello at this point so it was a welcome sit down. Some people stopped pedaling here – slackers! But I was glad to know that I wasn’t the only one that was tired.
Then, I got a taste of the motivational, inspired, meta aspect of Soulcycle with the instructor talking about letting go of the hard week and having this time be for ourselves and forgiving ourselves for anything that wasn’t perfect. I can see how some might dislike it, but it was fine with me. Who doesn’t need a good motivational speech on a Sunday during a hard workout right?
That began a sort-of workout climax where we were all supposed to go as hard as we could. Like a final sprint or just trying to empty the tank. Some people were really going at it and some were already done, so I bit the bullet and went for it – why not. We maxed out for a few minutes and then slowly turned it down until we got off the bikes and did a short stretch session. The warm up was non-existent but at least the warm down was legit.
I was drenched in sweat by this time and any thoughts about doing my 2 hour endurance workout later were entirely thrown out. It was time for food, and then going home and claiming my throne on the couch.
But first the Soulcycle gods mandated a mirror-selfie with Sarah – who is obviously a lot better than I am at these: