Imagine a dark, hot room, lit with dozens of fragrant candles and filled with fitness enthusiasts pedaling furiously to nowhere atop a fleet of sleek, stationary bikes. An instructor with ravishing, rock-star appeal is offering up words of inspiration as customized soundtracks (think cool, newfangled top 40 remixes) fill the room — clearly this is no ordinary spin class. Welcome to SoulCycle, the wildly popular indoor cycling “experience” that’s achieved fitness-world domination in recent years.
Each Monday at noon, self-proclaimed “cyclepaths” — including this writer — take to their keyboards to book online — it takes lightning-fast fingers to secure a coveted spot with a favorite instructor. A typical class starts with sprightly “jogs” (sustained cycling to a brisk beat), building to “hill climbing,” which involves pedaling through heavy resistance and ending with an electrifying sprint out of the saddle. In addition to straight cycling, there is a weight section and choreographed dance moves performed while on the bike, which are specifically designed to tone your upper body (and all this, packed into just 45 minutes).
Master instructor Danny Kopel elaborates, “Our arms series, which includes high reps with light weights, was essentially designed with a strapless gown in mind!” In addition to a consistently explosive sensory experience and a killer body-blasting workout, a celebrity following of laundry-list-proportions (including Kelly Ripa, Katie Holmes and Brooke Shields) adds to the allure.
Along with the physical benefits come the mental perks. Says instructor extraordinaire Lauren Bruker, “The wedding-planning process can be highly stressful and SoulCycle is a great way to let loose and ease those pre-marital jitters. All you need to do is show up and the instructor will take care of the rest.” There is also something unifying and euphoric about the group fitness experience (or as SoulCyclists commonly refer to as “riding as a pack.”) “When you ride in a group, moving in tandem, you are able to feed off each other’s energy and push one another to go above and beyond,” Bruker adds.
Part physical workout, part spiritual experience, it’s the strong sense of community that forms the heart of this beloved regime. “SoulCycle emphasizes the connection between mind and body, attaching deep purpose to the physical work. That’s how we can all tap into great transformative energy on the bike,” says Kopel...and the path to fitness enlightenment is easy when you find something you love...
All photos courtesy of SoulCycle