People can't stop talking about SoulCycle, the—you guessed it—spinning-centric workout du jour. Popular among magazine editors, designers, and, apparently, Lady Gaga, the club (with mandatory signups and jam-packed classes, you could call it that) with the cult-like following currently has four locations in Manhattan, two in the Hamptons, and an outpost in Los Angeles. But it's the Union Square quarters—wedged between Paragon Sports, the farmer's market, and countless yoga studios—that NYC entrepreneur and girl-about-town Hannah Bronfman's been dipping into as of late. The fitness buff is all about mixing up her routine, hasn't met a fad workout she didn't like (at least for a class or two), and tells it like it is. Here's her report:
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done SoulCycle. I was not soul’d. I was wary of the big-thigh myth and racked with anxiety over those sweaty communal seats. In spite of this, I went to SoulCycle for the fourth time on a recent muggy Saturday afternoon, convinced by friends who told me to try a male teacher. I’d only had women instructors, and I was interested in seeing the difference. Which, it turns out, was huge, like the difference between premium-channel cable and internet porn—and we all know (or have heard) that internet porn can get… a lot crazier. I felt as if I was watching, and then joining in on, a wild, sweaty orgy: everyone screaming, cheering, dripping…while our instructor Danny leaned over his handlebars, giving the class a nice view of everything right through his spandex.
At times, he was dancing around the room like an extra in a music video. I thought to myself, “Wow! That’s what I call confidence”—and isn’t that what working out’s all about? So as the A-Trak remix of “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs blasted, I stopped judging and embraced biking. I even enjoyed the water he was spraying all over his pedaling minions, like a televangelist anointing the studio audience.
With workout classes, I always want to know that I can improve with each class I take. But I don’t think I’ll ever master the art of peddling quickly with little resistance, at least not without feeling like I'm going to fly off the bike. And sitting in the back row of an intense SoulCycle didn’t help, since no one was around to correct my technique or positioning. That said, the whole experience did leave me thinking, should I be watching more internet porn?
Recommendations: Have someone set up your bike for you, push yourself—don’t judge yourself—and...use the optional seat pads.
Photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on August 1st, 2012