If you've ever woken up with your ass on fire, chances are you engaged in some unnatural activity like spinning the night before. I say unnatural because anything that burns 500 to 700 calories in 45 minutes is pure insanity. Yet that's exactly the premise behind SoulCycle, New York's popular spinning studio, which opened in Merrick Park January 3 and has already garnered crowds of devoted warriors sticking to those New Year's resolutions.
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Tuesday night, I headed to SoulCycle to try one of the classes. To say I got my ass kicked would be putting it lightly. Our instructor, Sydney, flew in from New York for the opening to get the studio ready and to appear in a Good Morning America segment in which Soul Riders across five studios would be broadcast simultaneously Wednesday.
The 52-bike studio is unlike other spinning spot you've seen. For starters, candles and dim lighting set the mood. Not just any candles either; these are Jonathan Adler grapefruit candles. Fancy candles. Bikes were custom-designed and manufactured by SoulCycle to complement your workout and with a seat more comfortable than those on the average spinning bike. They're similar to Fly Wheel's bikes; you clip into both.
SoulCycle provides complimentary shoes for the first ride; they're $3 every ride thereafter. If you want to buy shoes, they cost $165, or you can bring your own and clip to the other side of the pedal. If you're a newbie like me and have no idea how to do so, peeps are there to help you get settled into your ride properly. They show you how to adjust the seat so it's the right height and your arm distance is where it ought to be for the
smoothest toughest ride possible.
All instructors are on the cutting edge of music. SoulCycle feels less like a fitness studio and more like LIV. In my 45-minute session, we pedaled to everything from trance to perfectly synced dubstep and even trap. The point here is to lose yourself, but don't lose yourself to the point your feet go AWOL (guilty).
There's hair-flipping, ass-moving, and theatrics. At one point, Sydney got off her bike and started foot-pumping. Part performer, part inspiration coach, she made the class different from any other spinning I've ever done. This party atmosphere, combined with a full-body, high-intensity workout, is probably what has celebs like Madonna, Lady Gaga, David and Victoria Beckham, and Bradley Cooper heading to SoulCycle. That and the fact that $35 a class is pocket change to them. No unlimited monthly packages are available, although you can purchase classes in packages (five classes for $145; ten for $280). If you're thinking $35 a class is steep, you're right, but think of this as healthy partying. If you went to LIV, what would you spend on just one drink? Now factor in an Uber or parking fee, which SoulCycle validates for up to three hours (so you can spin and do a little shopping), and you're looking at pretty much the same thing.
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Want to check it out for yourself? Head to SoulCycle this Saturday, January 10, for a grand-opening celebration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be a DJ, liquid energy courtesy of Jugofresh, a photo booth, and, of course, classes. The 34th studio has the same amenities as all other SoulCycle locations -- lockers and fully equipped showers with razors, shaving cream, face wash, tampons, blow dryers, and anything else you think you might need. "Only thing we don't have are your clothes," manager Katherine Milligan says. But if you forget yours, there are some available for purchase. "Retail is actually a huge part of what we do." SoulCycle's swag is either Nike or Lululemon and features a new collection each and every month, so you can ride in the latest styles.
As for the classes, schedules are released every Monday at noon online. In New York, classes fill up in minutes, with people waiting in front of their computer to secure a bike. The only thing we have that sells out like that here is Ultra, which considering the music,
instructor performance artist/DJ, light show, and amount of water you're drinking, it's almost the same. This is better for your body and your soul, though.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha