Pretty much everyone who I asked for advice on what I should do as a fitness tourist in New York told me that I had to try out SoulCycle. As a massive fan of spin classes it was of course top of my list.
The only class I could fit into the trip was 8am on our first morning in the city so joined by my sister-in-law we crept out of our apartment into the fresh morning. A brisk 20 minute walk through Soho and we soon found ourselves spotting people who’d obviously been to SoulCycle. They were easy to spot because they were the only people in leggings and sweaty vests on a chilly NYC morning, they were all smiling, oh and they were all wearing SoulCycle branded clothing. I mean, all of them. I knew it was like a cult here in NYC but really?
We went into the sweaty Soho studio to some very friendly faces at the desk, got kitted out with our shoes and water bottles and nervously watched the people coming out of the class before us dripping with sweat. The air-conditioning was a ‘little slow’ that morning which contributed to the sweat but we thought nothing of it.
After a quick turnaround clean in which the studio was sprayed with eucalyptus scent we went in and found our bikes. At this point my phone was taken away from me to be returned after the class which annoyed me slightly. I get that taking photos during the class would distract people which is why I would never dream of doing that but not even for the standard fitness blogger post-spin photo posing on the bike with the instructor? Whatever.
Grace was teaching the class and had picked a playlist made entirely of Billy Joel music. It was truly inspired. What little breath I had spare throughout the class went on singing along, my favourite thing to do during spin classes with great music.
The class was pitched perfectly with a good mix of standing up, ‘tapping back’ where you frantically try to move your bum back and forth over the seat in a standing position in time with everyone else, press ups, hovers and sprinting. I get bored in spin classes that don’t have enough variety so this suited me. We also had a long track in the middle of the class of upper body and core work with hand-weights that burned like nothing else.
Throughout the class Grace kept us going with some cheesy puns, off-bike dancing and inspiring words. She even moved bikes a few times during the class coming to sit alongside people to encourage them.
The last 3 tracks were done with the lights off and eyes closed. It was at this point that I realized why SoulCycle deserves the accolades it gets. Working to your own pace and climbing your own hill with the encouragement of the instructor in the background gives such a feeling of euphoria and focus that I pushed myself much harder than I thought I would.
All too quickly it was over and I was blinking the sweat out of my eyelashes. I’ve never sweated like that before in a spin class, which is mostly down to the AC playing up, but also showed how hard we were working. It was like doing bikram spin. Now there’s a thought…
Anyway, if you’re in New York I would highly recommend making time for a SoulCycle class but book in plenty of time (classes open for booking 7 days before) as they fill up quickly. First-timers can book a class for $20 (like I did) and get their shoes for free but expect to pay $1.50 for a bottle of water.
If you’re based in London and want a similar experience I’d suggest heading to 1Rebel and trying out a spin class from either Melissa Weldon or Tiago Silva, both of whom teach inspiring and endorphin-boosting classes with totally banging tunes.