History of SoulCycle

Julie Rice, Elizabeth Cutler and Ruth Zukerman (the only one with a fitness background of the three) came together in 2006 in New York City. The idea behind their creation was to have indoor cycling classes in a hip setting, and then dubbed it SoulCycle, opening a studio in the posh part of New York City. Even with little advertising, people started to flock to the gym and sign up for monthly memberships.

Investors started to come calling and the popularity started to spread as celebrity clients made their way into the doors. Now, SoulCycle is a national brand that has studios around the United States, including Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are now plans to open a few hundred studios with more than five dozen open right now. SoulCycle has drawn a lot of attention in the fitness world and many are learning to be instructors.

Inside of SoulCycle

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While finding a personal trainer that’s going to be friendly is tough, SoulCycle has promoted a friendly atmosphere where the trainers are still pushing you through your workout. Each of the SoulCycle classes are held inside of darker rooms that are often illuminated solely by candlelight. There is also music pumping to get your blood flowing, giving you more energy.

SoulCycle classes begin with a quick warmup and then 40 minutes of cardio exercise on the stationary bikes. After that, you sit on the bike and workout your upper body for just five minutes using the free weights and then finish the class off with a cooldown. All in all, SoulCycle classes are said to burn a total of 700 calories and take around one hour to complete.

There used to be monthly memberships in the early days of SoulCycle, now it’s on a first come first serve basis for individual sessions. With all of the equipment and reservation, it typically costs around $40 for just one session. Even though that seems pricy, people are still willing to sign up frequently with classes almost half full within less than an hour of being announced in major cities.

Celebrities that do SoulCycle

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SoulCycle is one of the trendiest workout plans around right now, and trendy always brings in the celebrities. Among the famous clients that make their way to SoulCycle classes include soccer star David Beckham, singer Lady Gaga, actress Katie Cassidy, model Alessandra Ambrosio and TV host Kelly Ripa. Here are what some famous clients are also saying about working out with SoulCycle.

Demi Lovato – The singer of hits like “Confident” said that she first went to a SoulCycle class when visiting New York City and got hooked right away. She has even brought her SoulCycle bike with her on tour and uses it on a daily basis to get in some cardio work when she can’t make her way to the gym.

Kelly Rowland – After giving birth, former Destiny’s Child singer and television personality Kelly Rowland was looking to drop the weight. She turned to SoulCycle to help shed the 70 pounds that she had put on while pregnant and has been raving about the program ever since.

Anderson Cooper – The CNN news reporter was guest hosting a morning show with Kelly Ripa. Ripa would convince him to tag along to a SoulCycle class and he said that he was immediately hooked on the program. Now, you can spot Cooper at one of the classes in his free time breaking a sweat.

Brooke Shields – One of the most famous models of all-time, Brooke Shields says that SoulCycle is one of the simplest habits that makes her happy. Shields has also said that Stacey Griffiths has been a big motivator and the reason why it’s so easy to stick to the SoulCycle program.

Critics of SoulCycle

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While there have been a lot of people that swear by SoulCycle and a slew of celebrities that have done unpaid endorsements, there are still plenty of critics of SoulCycle. First of all, the price is enough to drive people away as not even most gyms will charge $40 for a monthly membership, let alone a single 60 minute session. Some experts have also said that SoulCycle isn’t as effective as it’s advertised.

Critics have said that working out with free weights while you’re pedaling is counterproductive, and that it can have a negative effect in the long term. Physiologists have made claims that the workouts that are done while cycling are not going to build strength since you are ruining your momentum by pedaling. They have even said that SoulCycle burns fewer calories than a traditional spin class since you’re reducing your output on the bike itself.

Also, the instructors have been criticized and not hired on their ability to instruct fitness properly alone. Instead, SoulCycle focuses on hiring those that can perform in front of large crowds and have a background in dance instead of physiology or cycling. This increases the injury risk among participants, and stopping during the workout is typically frowned upon and will only draw attention from other cyclers.

People that have tried SoulCycle and didn’t come back have had a multitude of other complaints to go along with the ones listed, including being pushed to the back on their first appearance. They have also said that there is a bit of a class or elitist issue in the studios, making newcomers quite uncomfortable. It’s up to each person to decide how they feel in that regard, but it seems to be a common complaint.

Is SoulCycle for Everyone?

SoulCycle does cater to each fitness level as you can do the workouts at your own pace. You aren’t required to cycle at a certain speed or lift a certain weight. SoulCycle has also said that women who are heavily pregnant have participated frequently in their classes, and that riders have ranged from as young as 12 years old to 80 years old. SoulCycle has been trying to make their classes more accessible now that they are a national brand with more than 1,000 employees. However, right now, access is limited to major cities across the United States.

What to Know Before You Go

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Despite some criticism, SoulCycle has really developed a hardcore following. Before you decide to drop $40 on your first class (including $2 for a mandatory water bottle and $3 to rent shoes that someone had worn on a SoulCycle bike previously), here are some things that you need to know:

Show Up Early – Some people are running through the door right before a class is about to begin, but you will want to arrive 15 minutes early (at least) to your session. This will allow the instructor time to help get your bike set up to your comfort level and you will be able to practice the poses that you will be using.

Know the Technique – Speaking of the poses, you will also want to be a little experienced on a stationary bike before heading into a SoulCycle class. With the intensity of the program, not knowing how to sit on the bike can lead to injuries. While novices are welcome, you should at least get somewhat acclimated to stationary bikes.

Drink a lot of Water – You do get a water bottle when you get into a SoulCycle class, but that might not be enough. People have said that going through a class leaves them sweating like never before, even sweating all the way through multiple shirts in one class. With as steamy as the SoulCycle rooms are, your body is going to lose a lot of water, so make sure to drink plenty before heading in.

Body Requirements – You can be just about any weight to participate in SoulCycle, but you have to meet certain requirements. For starters, you have to be at least 12 years old before signing up. Secondly, you have to be at least 4’11” to meet the minimum safety requirements for the bike.

Losing Weight with SoulCycle

While a lot of diets and workout programs have boasted their success stories of weight loss, that hasn’t been a focal point of the pitch for SoulCycle. There are, of course, some success stories on their official website, but you aren’t seeing commercials or advertisements about it anywhere. This goes back to the criticism of the effectiveness of SoulCycle, as some of the experts said you aren’t burning enough calories, but instead getting the feeling that you are because of the sweat produced.

Initially, you will notice that your body weight has dropped overall with SoulCycle, though most of that is going to be from lost water. One of the stigmas of SoulCycle is that it’s already reserved for those that don’t need to lose more than just a couple of pounds. Obviously with any proper diet, you can lose weight on any exercise plan. However, the price might not add up for you for sustained weight loss on SoulCycle. It’s one of those experiences that you have to try for yourself before making a final decision.

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