SoulCycle: Exhilarating or Overrated and Overpriced?


Hailey Spaeth

By Madeline Morales ’18, Lifestyle Section Editor

“This is about you,” chants a cult of extremely toned cycle instructors, in a black and white montage of people fiercely biking. The cyclists are extremely intense and sweaty. This is exactly SoulCycle, accurately portrayed by their promotional video linked below. The hardest, yet most rewarding workout of my life was my SoulCycle class on West 77th in NYC. My father and I decided to go together because he frequents it and other locations around the country while on business trips in major cities (NYC, L.A., Chicago, Houston, Miami, San Francisco.) I work out regularly, but no number of miles I had ran or juice cleanses I had participated in could have prepared me for this experience, and yes, I mean experience.

I walked into the cycle room, overwhelmed by the crowd (40 to be exact) of bikes crammed into the incredibly small, black room. When Noah, my instructor and motivator for the day, pranced into the room, he was greeted with gushing fans; instructors are like gods to Soul Cycle frequenters. Noah soon made his way over to my father and I and introduced himself. He politely asked us about workout rituals, experience levels, etc., and assured us that the next 45 minutes of pain will lead to pleasure and “it is all about [us].”

As the bikes filled with LuluLemon clad fitness fanatics, the door was sealed by an outside employee and we were trapped in a pitch-dark room. Suddenly, a beam of fluorescent pink light shined on Noah, perched on a pedestal facing the eager cyclists. “Hello,” he coos, “you came for you. Work your hardest, push yourself, let’s ride.” Cheers erupted. Suddenly the pink beam was accompanied by shining stage lights from behind and “Jenny from The Block” blared from the speakers. Noah is illuminated and I see every bead of sweat seep from his pores, reminding me to work even harder. Cycling along to pop hits, I feel part of a community. We bounce, we cycle, we turn our resistance to the max. After ten minutes, people were removing their drenched articles of clothing and toweling off their perspiring faces; it was so hot. The mix of hip-hop, pop, and dance music kept us cycling in various positions, but essentially it was my choice to decide how hard I would push myself. Grunts and wheezes added to the beat of Beyoncé and motivated me to keep up my pace and increase my resistance. Towards the end, we were all suffering through and Noah got off the bike. He scuttled between the tightly packed rows of bikes, rousing us by shouting “Do you want to wear that crop top or not?!,” “c’mon and PUSH IT,” and “Is this how you want your last 10 minutes to be?!” We screeched back “Yes I do, Yes I will.” Noah was harsh, but perfect for me. I drank the Kool-Aid, or overpriced Smart Water in this case, and absolutely shook the bike I pushed myself so hard. As the music wound down and Noah hopped off the bike, a roar of applause dominated the room; he bowed and exited quietly. We all stayed for an individual cool down, and once satiated with our worn bodies, exited dramatically too.

By the end of the class, I felt worn out, but sad that it had ended. I was clearly in pain but the entire community aspect made me feel like “one of them.” The high fives and cheers for one another, and constant need to prove ourselves to Noah made us all feel connected. I felt accomplished; I felt like I did good for my body. As cheesy as it sounds, I had never known I was capable of that much. SoulCycle is not only a physical experience, but an emotional one; you are there for you, and the feeling of self-love is ever-present throughout that room. Some interpret the expensive classes as narcissistic while others think they are doing a favor for their bodies and acting healthily.

I recommend SoulCycle to anyone who is willing to work their hardest, and accept pain consequently. Though I love local workout places, nothing can be compared to SoulCycle (sorry Body Alive frequenters.) Soul Cycle isn’t a class, but a community experience where you control how much effort you put forth. SoulCycle breeds a “cult” aspect and encourages an overpriced and self-indulgent lifestyle, but it makes you feel good physically and mentally. I will for sure continue.