After running the marathon and trying CorePower Yoga, I decided it was time to try another cult exercise class, SoulCycle. I wanted to do a whole month of classes, and spent the spring saving so I could afford them. I was so excited to try it, so you can imagine my disappointment when I finally took my first few classes.
Honestly, I’m the ideal SoulCycle client. Health-conscious millennial blogger that I am, I love exercise, loud music, and cardio. SoulCycle should’ve been the single greatest addition to my exercise plan.
I planned to try a whole month of classes, saved money for them, and even talked my mom and my friends into coming with me for a few of them! I’ve thought about trying SoulCycle for years, but since the closest studio is in the Loop, I figured the summer was the only time that it was reasonable for me to give it a try.
Why Does This Cost so Much Money
I bought the starter pack of classes (3 for $60) and then chose my first class. I decided on the 7:30 AM class on Sunday because that’s generally around the time I’d be heading out for my long runs on weekends.
Since the bus can be a little dicey in the early mornings, I jumped in a ride sharing service downtown. This was the same morning as a half marathon, and what I wouldn’t have given to be running it because the weather was perfect.
When I walked into the classroom and there were no windows it felt a little wrong. I’ve done spin before, so I was ready to find out just what made SoulCycle so special. I assumed the darkness was for some kind of laser light show (no such luck!).
I jumped on my bike and noticed that each one had weights on it, so I asked where I could get heavier weights than the 2 lbs that were already on my bike. Since it was my first time, one of the staff told me to just try the 2 lb weights for today and then get bigger ones for my next class. This would’ve been fine, but the only other new student in the class was a man and they immediately brought him 5 lb weights when he asked.
That rubbed me the wrong way, but determined to love SoulCycle, I put my head down and started pedaling. The teacher walked in and told the 12 of us (in a classroom with 67 bikes) that the class today will be 45 minutes dedicated to our strength.
I was surprised. A $30 class is only 45 minutes long? That’s $10 for every 15 minutes in a dark room. Running is free and outdoors and not a $10 (and half hour) ride away. At that price, this better be the single most fun or difficult workout of my life.
I acknowledge, I run and lift so the muscles that SoulCycle works are pretty strong. Through the entirety of the first class I kept cranking up the resistance. The idea of SoulCycle is that you should use the resistance that lets you keep the pace to match the moves of the class, but through the last 20 minutes of the instructor telling us we’re almost done I really wasn’t feeling it.
The music wasn’t fun or recognizable either, which made the whole matching the pace system a little less fun. When the class ended, I felt wildly ripped off. I even worked out again that afternoon because I couldn’t believe how awful that class was.
My favorite CorePower teacher goes to SoulCycle all the time so I asked her what went wrong. She recommended a different teacher, so on Tuesday morning I got my butt out of bed at 5 am to make his 6 am class downtown.
The distance is a real impediment to feasibility for these classes. Having to wake up so early just to get a 45 minute work out in felt ridiculous, so I tried to get in as early as possible to at least get a whole hour in.
Maybe it was the earlier start time, the better teacher, or that the class was full, but this time was better. The music was fun, and the teacher did a better job of pushing us hard from the beginning. I found the weights and grabbed heavier ones before class, so the weight lifting section of the class was harder.
It was also really crowded. I kept bumping elbows with the people of the bikes beside me, which was frustrating. I understand why SoulCycle packs the class so tightly, since at $30 per person (plus the $3 charge to rent shoes-which is ridiculous when the class is so expensive) they make more than 2 grand for every class.
After the class, I had to shower at the studio since its so far away from my apartment that I wouldn’t have time to go home and change before work. Using their showers, with the towels and shampoo and hair dryers, made it feel like that $30 would’ve been worth it that morning.
Exercise classes shouldn’t need fancy showers to be worth the cost, especially when you have to wait 20 minutes to get into one because the line is so long.
“SoulCycle is Objectively Fun”
One of my friends said that to me before I started my month, and so for my last class of the starter pack, I knew I had to maximize the potential for a good time.
SoulCycle has been putting on a series of themed rides, and on Saturday morning, the one in the Loop was holding a Taylor Swift vs Kanye West ride. I love both of them unapologetically so I figured this was a good start. Then, I brought my big Maya (who has been a champion of coming with me to early morning exercise classes) because she loves SoulCycle. Together, these should guarantee that I would have a great time.
Ultimately, I couldn’t get over the price tag. I think Maya and I have more fun at our local salsa nights than we did at SoulCycle. It was so loud we didn’t really get to hang out.
The workout wasn’t any harder than the last ones, and after bringing Maya to 80 minutes of Yoga Sculpt (two blocks away from my apartment) for the same price, it would’ve been better to have spent the money on that class.
For a paid exercise class to be worth it to me, it has to give me something I can’t do on my own. Instead, SoulCycle gave me a worse workout with an added hour of travel in a crowded, dark room.
When I don’t work out well and I’m not sore, I’m cranky and that carries over into every part of my life. Maybe I built it up in my head too much, or maybe I needed to keep looking for the right teacher, but at effectively $53 a class it just doesn’t make sense to finish out the month.
Have you tried SoulCycle? What cult exercise class should I try next?