If you’re looking for an activity to kick your ass on a Monday or any day of the week, then you should sign up for SoulCycle. I’ve actually been curious about it for awhile having seen a lot of bloggers try it out and it being pretty popular in both SF and NYC, but I can honestly say that I had no idea what I was getting into. I came into this thinking that I would be enjoying a leisurely indoor bike ride with some top 40 jamz. Instead, I found myself struggling to get strapped into my bike, feeling a little scared and intimidated by everyone around me, but leaving feeling sweaty, (in a good way! Is that even possible?) strong, and motivated!
Let’s start from the beginning. My co-worker Melanie and I made plans last week to try SoulCycle for the first time and signed up for the Monday class after work. Pretty great way to start off the work week, right? I found out Sunday that I actually had a birthday party to attend to Monday night and thought that I wouldn’t be able to do both so I almost considered canceling. That class is $30 though so I decided that since I’d already committed, I was just going to do work and make it happen.
When I arrived, the entire staff said I looked scared. No surprises there. However, even though I was terrified, I was greeted with a big hug from my instructor Kamelle welcoming me to my first class. He quickly took me under his arm and showed me around teaching me how to use the lockers, where to fill up my water bottle, and handing me over to the ladies at the front who gave me my first pair of shoes. They were really cute because they were so small, but since they strap into your bike, you kind of feel like you’re walking weirdly with your toes up towards the sky. Melanie and I waited patiently for our 6:30 session to start and as soon as the session before us finished, we started to see the cyclists filing out one-by-one. Flushed, soaking in sweat, and panting. So I had to show up to a birthday party after this exercise sesh and that was not the way I wanted to come out of the room at the end.
Since I had never really cycled before, I had no idea how to set up my bike and probably should’ve had someone help me much earlier before the class started. I’m also not strong enough to strap myself into the bike properly and had lots of difficulties which shook me up before starting. I don’t know what I expected, but the room was much smaller than I had thought it was going to be and the bikes were so close together that it made me a bit nervous. When we did start, the lights dimmed and immediately the EDM/rave music started pumping. I came into that room feeling very calm, but because everyone else around me was pumped up on adrenaline, I felt like I needed to be at their level and quickly adjusted to fit in.
Here’s the real truth about SoulCycle. You’re not just cycling. Your instructor makes you move to the beat of the music alternating between going low on your bike and standing up, going from side to side with the beat of the music, stretching and alternating your arms on different counts, and at one point using the baby weights that are in your bike to do curls and raises while you’re cycling. Because I’m so aloof, I completely missed the boat on this one and decided to sit back, cycle, and observe. I also felt like I was cycling and doing hip hop kind of at the same time because of the counts and beats. SoulCycle is no joke though and I found myself not being able to do everything that was asked of me by the instructor most of the time and watching everyone around me keep up. The person in front of me looked like a pro so I kept trying to use her as my motivating example. Honestly, I’m just in awe of this kind of work out. It is really really hard especially for a first timer like myself, but the people around me were so good and they made it look easy when I knew it wasn’t.
Another aspect of SoulCycling that I have to give credit to is the instructor. Kamelle made me feel like I could do anything even when I knew I couldn’t. He mentioned to us that it was Monday and that it was a great way to start our week and what we had to look forward to. During a portion where we were winding down, he advised us to leave the things that were holding us back behind. In my head, I was like “Bai haters!” He didn’t say anything along those lines, but that’s alright. Then when the same song picked up, he encouraged us to cycle towards that thing we wanted and I cycled so fast I thought I was probably going to pass out.
As tiring as SoulCycle can be, I actually had a lot of fun. I started to find my rhythm halfway through the class and when I came out sweaty (the sweatiest I’ve probably ever been!) I didn’t feel as disgusting as I thought I would feel. It just meant that I had a great workout, but I know I didn’t reach my max on this session so I’m definitely looking forward to the next one when I can push myself even more. I haven’t scheduled that next session yet though because I’m waiting for the lower half of my body to stop hurting.
P.S. this is the most active that I have ever been in my life! Kid me would think this version of me was crazy.