SoulCycle: My First Ride

So, I signed up for my first SoulCycle class the other day. I learned pretty fast exactly how in demand some of these SoulCycle instructors really are. As instructed by my expert SoulCycle friends, I sat ready at my computer Monday morning, finger on the mouse, waiting for the clock to strike 12. Flustered, I quickly scanned the class and selected my bike (in the last row) as all the seats filled up around me within 10 seconds. To win a chair in one of these classes is no small feat, I felt accomplished before even taking the class.

As a newbie, I couldn’t quite understand the SoulCycle craze. I found it bizarre watching my friends anxiously waiting to sign up for a specific teacher…like how different could they be? Spinning is spinning? I decided to give into the peer pressure and give it a try. I signed up for two different classes, one with an instructor I was excited about because I knew her from One Tree Hill, and one my friend was thrilled about because of her fame within the SoulCycle community (apparently a bigger deal than TV fame).

First came my class choice. I knew the instructor from my One Tree Hill obsessed days. I expected that I was not alone in this obsession and the class would be packed. However, when I walked in, it was less than half full. TBH, what a relief as a first time rider.

Here’s a breakdown of how the class went:

  • 1/3 of the bikes were filled -- still shocked by this.
  • The instructor was enthusiastic and inspirational. Realistically, I probably looked pathetic on the bike, but she made me feel like I was a pro. When I was completely out of breath and about to pass out, she told us “just being here is enough” and not to judge our performance.
  • I was both winded and relieved when the final song ended. I left completely drenched in sweat and bolted for the showers, embarrassed by my tomato red face. I personally found the class to be pretty challenging, it probably could have been harder but then again, I would have probably passed out if it was.
  • Later, I consulted with my friend, a religious SoulCycle goer, to see if her thoughts matched mine. She found the class to be easier than I did, although she admitted it was definitely challenging. She also thought that the lack of people affected the overall vibe of the class.


Next came my friend's choice, an infamous SoulCylce instructor. After the difficulty of the first class I was scared to join in on one with the experts. This is what I found:

  • First of all, why was a random woman riding the platform bike? Apparently this is the norm for this instructor's class…leading the pack from the side of the bike.
    • I really disliked this aspect of the class because I was sitting on the side of the room and Stacey completely blocked the view of the person on the bike.
  • Unlike our first class class, Every. Bike. Was. Taken. This made me a lil’ nervous but then I got where my friend was coming from. People were cheering and swinging their towels over their heads. I appreciated the high energy that comes from a packed class.
  • Everyone seemed like they knew what was coming next. Obliques, then jumps, then sprint. Everyone around me was following along, but I couldn’t even understand what the instructor was screaming into the mic. Popular instructors create a following, and this following knew exactly how the class went.
  • I also was not a huge fan of her message: that we should want to change our body for someone or something...or at all.
  • To be completely honest, I expected the class to be harder. If peeps are lining up to take this class, I thought it would be nearly impossible. Really it just felt like the instructor was a DJ, not a spin instructor.
  • Also, we spent an entire 10 minutes on arms which felt more like a dance party than actually working my biceps.

So what’s the move? A packed class where a waitlist forms 30 seconds after sign ups, or a slightly empty, less hyped class you’ve heard nothing about? Here’s what I’ve taken away from my SoulCycle experiment: the instructor matters, but you also matter and the “best” instructor may not be the best instructor for you. You need to think about what you are looking for in your workout and find the teacher that best fits your needs. It may take a few trials, but if you like indoor spinning, it’s worth it.