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I Tried SoulCycle for the First Time and Mostly Survived

I have always been really skeptical of exercise classes that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 each. Like, is it really worth $0.67 per minute for me to be there? Is the instructor’s time and the studio itself really worth a collective $30 per minute ($1,800/hour) that we are all exercising? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a lucrative business model and maybe I’m just jealous that I didn’t come up with it first.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to try SoulCycle for quite some time to see what the hype is about. I knew I was overdue for a workout and I hadn’t brought my gym bag to work, so in the middle of a very stressful afternoon, I snapped and decided it was a good a time as any to give SoulCycle a shot – especially since the Rittenhouse Square location is super convenient to get to on SEPTA.

For first-timers, your initial class is only (only???) $20 and you don’t have to pay to rent cycling shoes (an additional $3 normally). So really just approximately what I’d end up paying for a low-key happy hour – and way better for me, so that’s a bonus. I bought my first-time ride credit and scanned the class options for the night. The 7:30pm class still had one unreserved bike left, so I snagged bike 22 for a class with Nick Turk. I then spent not a trivial amount of time googling things like “how to not look like an idiot your first time at SoulCycle.”

I got there about 20 minutes early to check in with the front desk, make sure they knew I was a new student, and give myself time to figure out the locker room situation. The lockers are a little confusing at first, but I just pretended like I knew what I was doing until I figured it out. I took some of my extra time before class to explore a little bit and noted the nice showers and bathroom stocked with necessities like hair ties. Seems like it could be a good setup to be able to actually work out before work without feeling gross for the rest of the day (as is the case in my current gym situation).

Luckily for me, there were a lot of newbies in my class so I didn’t feel totally out of place. When we got into the studio, I got some help adjusting my bike correctly (thanks Nick!) and locked my shoes into the pedals. I think of all the things that were new to me about this experience, the shoes attached to the bike pedals was the most difficult to adjust to. There were definitely times later in the class when my legs were starting to feel like jell-o and were not quite in sync with the rest of my body but kept moving anyway due to the bike setup, making me feel super off-balance. I also definitely did not turn that resistance knob to the right as many times as Nick told us to…I’ll get there eventually. I was also majorly struggling to keep up towards the end during some really fast songs, so I found that pedaling half-time still kept me moving and I wasn’t that noticeably off from what most of the room was doing. I was so incredibly sweaty. It was hard. I definitely could not keep up the whole time. But it was SO fun. The music was on point and I really liked that it was dark in the studio so you don’t get distracted by other riders and can really just focus on yourself.

Was it totally life-changing and am I going to become part of the cultish SoulCycle following? Probably not. Am I going back anyway? Yep, tomorrow morning before work. Apparently it takes three classes for this to click…stay tuned.

If you didn’t take a photo of the neon sign, did you even go to SoulCycle?

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