My experience taking Soul Cycle for the 1st time.
Written by: Natalie Atkins
Editor: Kimberly Atkins
Many of my friends are raving about the benefits of indoor cycling classes. The weight they are losing, the energy they gain, and the amazing feeling of completing a class. So I took it upon myself to try some of the bigger cycling brands in the Los Angeles Area. This is everything you need to know about a SoulCycle experience.
Class Number 1- Beverly Hills, SoulCycle
My first Soulcycle class was at the Beverly Hills studio in Los Angeles, CA. Finding the studio was easy. I could see the yellow and black Soulcycle logo and branding on the studio entrance from the street. However, finding the entrance to the proper parking structure was a little more difficult. There are many underground structures in this part of town. The parking structure you need for this studio is on a one way street. I ended up driving around in circles for a few minutes to find the right entrance. I got my ticket to the underground parking which the studio validated to cover the cost of parking while taking my single class. I do not know if they can validate for multiple class lengths.
I arrived a little bit later than I wanted to, but the person at the front desk was super friendly and very helpful. She helped me purchase a 3 class pass for newbies which was $35.00. Got me a pair of soulcycle shoes and took me to a bike in the cycling room, where she adjusted my bike and helped me get my feet clipped in. She pointed out how I could add or take away resistance, and I was off to the races.
My instructor was a very high energy female who happens to be very pregnant. She cycled most of the class with us, getting off the bike only to lead the arm exercises. She seemed very knowledgeable, her music was great, but the vibe of my class just wasn’t what I looking for in a group class. My bike was in the 2nd row and as far to the left and near the door as I could get. It gave me a great vantage point to see the instructor and many of the students around me. The class was a little hard to follow because it was my first time and the instructor was using terms that I was unfamiliar with. I did my best to follow the hand and body placement of my instructor and those around me through the workout. I left the Beverly Hills Studio feeling like I had a good workout. I was covered in sweat, I was breathing deeply, I felt energized, but I did feel like I could have had a more fun and challenging workout.
If I had not purchased a 3 class pack my Soulcycle journey might have ended there. One of my best friends Stephanie speaks so highly of her instructor and studio in San Diego, I decided my next two classes would be with different instructors and in different studios.
Class Number 2- Culver City, CA
My second Soulcycle class was in Culver City, CA. Finding this studio was a little more difficult because it is located on the second story, in an outdoor shopping mall area. I had called ahead of time asking where to park and was told the building with the big rainbow colors on it. There were 2 buildings matching this description and luckily I chose the correct one. Again, I grabbed a ticket to enter the garage which was validated by the studio. There were signs trying to point me in the right direction, and I could see the studio upstairs, but there was no clear way of getting there. I did waste some time walking in circles as I was trying to find the entrance of the studio. When I finally found the correct stairwell, I knew I was in the right place. The stairwell had lighted signs in the Soulcycle branded colors on every floor, with positive messaging.
I knew my feet had been sliding around in my shoes during the the last class and didn’t want that to impact my workout. I asked for a size smaller shoe than I had previously worn. I again asked for assistance adjusting my bike to my height but had a little better idea of what I thought was comfortable. The studio had a similar layout but I felt a little turned around with the door on a different wall from my first class and a wall directly to my left instead of a walkway to enter and leave the room. As the class started I do remember feeling a little worried I would have the same experience as last time. My instructor was again an energetic, very knowledgeable female. However, during class she explained the positioning of your hands on the handlebars for what they call 1st, 2nd and 3rd position. There are times where you also do a modified pushup on the bike and she explained these in a way that made a little more sense to me. She was also a very inspirational motivator, encouraging us to push ourselves. Her mic and music malfunctioned a couple times during class but between her and the other students in the front row it was still easy to stay on track with the workout. Once the class had ended I again was covered in sweat but felt like I had a fun yet difficult workout. This teacher and class seemed a little more like what I was looking for. After this experience I wanted to return to another class.
Class Number 3- El Segundo, CA
My third Soulcycle class was in El Segundo, CA. This morning I arrived at the studio very early in the morning as the sun was rising. I wanted to get in a great workout before my workday started. Even though this Soulcycle was again in an outdoor shopping mall, this Soulcycle was on the ground level and located on the perimeter. I could see the entrance to the studio from the parking lot and there seemed to be ample parking. (At least at this time of day.) I have been to this area before and know the parking during the day is generally easy to find, while more difficult during a lunch hour and even more difficult during a holiday season. I had packed a full bag for the gym because I would be showering and getting ready for work using their facilities.
I knew what size shoe fit me best, had a bike picked out near the door and on the outskirts of the group. This is where I found I feel the most comfortable. I also opted to try the seat cushion that can be checked out from the front desk to make my seat more squishy and comfortable since my sit bones were starting to feel tender. To change it up today, I chose a male instructor who was high energy, knowledgeable and extremely fit. His music was great, his direction was easy to follow and he encouraged us to make this workout what we needed. This was the type of class my friend Stephanie had made me come to expect. I did notice it took him a while to put his cycling shoes on, and it was as if he had too much energy to stay on the bike the whole class. He was on and off the bike every few minutes. But after class I knew I wanted to continue this type of workout and started looking at getting my own shoes and cleats.
The changing/shower room was a little on the small side. I had to wait for a couple girls who had left class early to finish their shower so I could get in one, but it is comparable to what you might find in a Bikram Yoga studio. There was shampoo and conditioner available in a wall unit in the shower, and though I had brought my own personal towel with me, there were towels there for us to use. There was a counter just long enough for the 3 people standing side by side to ready for our day ahead.
If you want to try something new like Soulcycle I would highly recommend you take at least 3 classes before you make the decision if this is something for you or not. Try it alone and with a friend. Different studios, instructors, music choices and the attitude of your fellow cyclers can greatly change the vibe of a studio and experience you have. During the workouts I was always able to push myself as much as I wanted to because I was incontrol of the resistance put on the bike and the weights I would be lifting during class. The instructors gave us an idea of how hard the the ride should feel and if we should be adding or subtracting resistance. We also would pedal to the beat of the music which would put us all on a similar cadence. However the one thing that I felt was missing was there was nothing on the bike or in the front of the room to let me know my actual resistance, rpm’s, watts, output or heart rate. I would have loved to have a more concrete way to make sure I am on track with the rest of the class with actual numbers.
I did find that after doing multiple classes in a week my backside was quite sore sitting on that seat during the third class. Most Soulcycle’s have padding that will slip over the seat to give you a more cushioned and comfortable ride. Just ask someone at the front desk for it.
All three Soulcycles were kept very clean. The loaner shoes I received were always dry. All the instructors seemed like they had been been doing this for ages, not only teaching classes but also taking classes. I love when I am able to find a trainer or instructor with a physique similar to the one I want to work towards and ask them what they do to keep their body in shape. All the instructors that I came across at Soulcycle had a physique that I would want to work towards.
If you plan to take a Soulcycle class get there early on your first class.
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