Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cycling With Soul

I went because I wanted to spice up my exercise routine. But mostly I went because the first time was free.

The room was pitch black but for a single candle on the floor, and even the excess light from the flame reflecting off the wall of mirrors at the front was soon obscured as the mirrors fogged up from the heat.

"Let me see your SOUL," boomed the instructor as he blasted the music so that the throbbing base seemed to shake the entire room.

"Let's RIDE," he said with a maniacal grin. "Everybody UP."

I followed the movement of the perky, ponytailed girl next to me who stood up on her bike in a fluid motion while maintaining a breakneck pedal speed. She made it seem as easy as a stroll through the park, while I held on for dear life and wondered when we would be able to sit down.

The answer seemed to be, never.

Within seconds sweat was dripping into my eyes and my legs were on fire. I am a runner and consider myself to be in reasonably good shape, but it was clear to me almost instantly that running shape and SoulCycle shape are wildly different.

"Speed it UP," yelled the instructor. "Turn up the INTENSITY," he screamed as the music sped up.

Muscles I barely knew I had were shaking and threatening to collapse, and a quick glance to my left told me that Perky Ponytailed Girl, damn her, was actually smiling as she reached down and gave her resistance a full twist to the right.

My vision blurred, my quick breaths caught in my chest, and I was dying of thirst, mostly because I was afraid that if I reached down for my water bottle I would take a header straight off the bike.

And through the fog of exhaustion and pain came my fierce vow to never do this again, along with a certain smugness born from the knowledge that I had managed to resist whatever addictive properties most of the world has found in the SoulCycle machine.

And then, the music slowed. The room grew darker as the candle was extinguished. In a voice barely above a whisper, the instructor told us to sit and close our eyes while we pedaled.

"Lose yourself," he said. "This is your moment. You can do anything."

I wanted to smirk at his platitudes, but I couldn't. The music arrowed through me and as I pedaled the pain and exhaustion of the class fell away. I found a rhythm and all of a sudden I felt like I could pedal forever and for one strange moment I wished that the class would never end. That I could stay in this hot and steamy room and ride this bike for the rest of my life.

Then it was over.

And as I joined the sweaty masses headed towards the door I was already thinking about when I could come back for more.

That I would have to pay for.


  1. This makes me want to cycle, although not enough to pay for it... ;)

  2. Though we have met in person, I do not want to gross you out too much. Therefore I shall only say that the ONE time I did a spin class, I worried that I would never regain feeling in my crotch. Out of fear of never having an ounce of fun in the bedroom again, I leave cycling to others. :) That said, I can relate to the euphoria and sense of peace afterwards... sounds very much like hot yoga!

  3. I think the end of the class sounds really nice. Maybe if the whole class was like that I'd want to do it :)

  4. hmmm... that was one strange moment... i spin but i'm always thrilled when it's over. although, i've also lost myself in my head there at times and almost had nervous breakdowns. good thing it's dark. a little change is always good, especially when it's coold outside!

  5. I'm with Michelle. An hour of the ending sounds like something I might be able to handle!

  6. My husband cycles, and I wish I wanted to as well. But those classes are scary -- and my version of scary is EXACTLY as you describe it here!

  7. Your transformation is just so hard for me to believe that I might have to try a spinning class myself...someday.

  8. Okay Samantha, I think we had completely different spinning experiences. After my spinning class was over, I couldn't get out of there fast enough and definitely did not want to go back! Yikes! ;0) But glad you enjoyed it! It's good to find something you enjoy!

  9. I've never heard of "soul" cycling before. Definitely does not sound like a good choice for beginners! Glad you found it to be transformative.

  10. I love spinning. Love love love. But that first class kicked my ass to the moon and back. Yikes. It was hard as hez-ell. I'm so happy you wrote about this. I was dying to know. Will you go back ?

  11. I'm not sure if this inspires me, or scares me:)! Because of knee issues and recently a hip thing - my doctor has advised that I no longer run:(. I am at a loss for a cardio option and I've heard good things about soul cycle...but I am scared....

    1. Go for it, dont be scared! Its the only exercise ive found that gives me as good a workout as running.

  12. I'm a spin addict. There's nothing like finishing (except for Bikram). I'm happy you went back. Fortunately, or un- depending how you view it, your crotch gets used to it! Burn, baby, burn (the calories away...) So fun to read this!

  13. Your experience sounds a lot like my one (and only) time cycling. Well, right up to the end of it. All I left with was a sore bum ;-) It's running and elliptical for me.

  14. Spin classes are the stuff of nightmares. So yelly and sweaty and boomy and spinny! TV IS ON, for the love of all things holy. :)

  15. Spin class is brutal! It is essential to have an instructor that can pump you up, and your instructor sounds like just that kind of instructor. I need to get back to spin class but I'm sceeeeeeered. lol