With celebrities like Lady Gaga, Katie Holmes, or the Victoria Secret’s Angels being spotted in the studios, SoulCycle® has grown wild over the last 10 years. Indeed, in 2016 Soul Cycle® will go IPO on the NYSE to raise $100 million in funding. Invented by two women, Elizabeth Cutler et Julie Rice, the first Soul Cycle® studio opened in 2006 in New York.
The idea? Re-invent spinning by making it more fun, more motivating, with a touch of mantra and meditation, hence the word “soul”. Their mission: Soul Cycle® does not just change bodies, it changes lives! We hear about the power of the community, tribal stuff, warriors, etc….ambitious isn’t it?
The branding has been thought through in detail: popping colors (black and yellow), branded bikes, branded clothes, easily recognizable studios, etc…
I couldn’t wait anymore so last week I went to try my first Soul Cycle® class in Palo Alto, CA. At first I thought I was doing myself some good but then…..not anymore….
Here is why I won’t go back to Soul Cycle®:
-1- The music is super fun and super trendy but gosh! so loud that half the people were using ear plugs (available for free on the entrance counter). Don’t even hope to hear the directions from your trainer as the music is way too loud!
-2- The bikes are so close that I had my nose on my front neighbor’s butt (a guy), and I’m pretty sure he had eaten cabbage or beans for lunch (do you need any more details?)
-3- Very little ventilation so while you think you are exerting yourself (you are sweating) it is more because you are too hot than anything else.
-4- 40 bikes and…2 showers!
-5- It is almost pitch black. I must admit it makes for a cool atmosphere, unless you like some light to exercise. My body usually thinks that if it is totally dark it means it needs to sleep but here at the end of the day my brain received two messages: a) it is dark and b) I need to shake my booty like crazy
-5- The trainers don’t seem to be fitness pros. They cool and nice and use empowering phrases like: “Light the fire within” or “you are the spark of your world” and other banal sentences. They don’t correct your form during class so if you don’t pedal correctly or your bike is not properly adjusted don’t expect any pointers.
-6- It is horribly expensive! $30 on average for a session! Once in a while seems ok but if you plan on soul cycling regularly that’s quite a hefty budget, even if you end up buying packs. You pay for the brand, not for the service.
-7- Unless you are equipped with special shoes (not the average cycling shoes fyi) you will need to rent the Soul Cycle® shoes (free for the first session) for $3 an hour. Hello germs!
-8- And, I kept the best for the end: It seems the classes are not designed by physiologists as I had to do pushups on the bar while pedaling like crazy and cycle up and down at a rapid pace. This puts tremendous pressure on lumbars. The following day, I woke up with a nasty lower back pain, which took 3 days to eradicate thanks to yoga (I never suffer from back pain).