Hannah Takes On SoulCycle - Into The Gloss

Hannah Takes On SoulCycle

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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 quarterswedged between Paragon Sports, the farmer's market, and countless yoga studiosthat 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 

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  • PradaStole

    I dunno eh, I would always rather be on a real bike outside.

  • Charlotte

    If you want to how you can improve with every class, you should try Flywheel. That's why I switched. Soulcycle was like Bike-dancing, but Flywheel figured out how to measure performance. So now I know how much I do each class and if I am getting better and stronger. I feel like Soulcycle was uninspiring - and too easy to cheat. Flywheel let's me know when I am going hard or slacking off.

    • http://caryrandolph.com/ Cary

      Agreed! I'm a huge Flywheel fan, due in great part to the Torqboard, which lets you compete not only against your own past performances but those of everyone else. It adds a degree of friendly competition that forces me to work harder than I think I can, every time. (Plus weighted bars > hand weights.)

      • Diana

        I'm also a fan of Flywheel -- that class kicks my ass. It's also cheaper ($30 for class with shoes + water included as compared to SoulCycle's $32 for class + $3 for shoes minus any water)

  • Molly Young

    Adorbs

  • http://fairytalesandcoffee.wordpress.com/ Fairytalesandcoffee

    Interesting...I prefer intense exercise classes with without the rock concert vibe. Kind of weirds me out. I was curious about SoulCycle....I guess I will be staying away.

  • reddysteadygo

    I've done spinning a few times and I would totally try SoulCycle just to say that I have tried it but yeah, I think I would want an enthusiastic friend along for the ride. Also she is such a great writer! I would love to see more of her!

  • Mary

    SoulCycle really has become the latest "it" workout in NYC, though I think most of the devotees enjoy name dropping it more than they enjoy the spin. I've never been impressed by SoulCycle, but like the author I keep giving it second (and third...and sixth) chances. I've been spinning for years now and really love it, and I've always been happy with Equinox group spin classes. Every instructor is different, of course (and there will always be the occasional disaster or waste of time class), but in general, more attention is paid towards form and I always leave sore, out of breath, and confident that I worked off whatever caloric sin I had committed that week.

  • SeeMeOnlyMe

    HB, it's great that you keep giving SoulCycle a "spin", and Union Square is full of very talented instructors, yet there are a few EXTREMELY TALENTED instructors in OTHER locations. That specific location does well based on proximety alone, which is why the ANOMOLIES that I speak of are placed in others. You have NOT truely sampled SOUL until you have Cycled with @Ayana_Curtis. (UES, Tribeca, etc...)

  • Martina

    Very well. You don't have to post them here everyday, though :)

    • Ashleehayes

      Agreed. Can we please block people who post unnecessary comments just so they can advertise their own blog.

  • Beatriz

    There's one literally steps from my bed. $35 a pop? You would need to send me a comp or two to convince me to try it. There's dozens of superb spinning instructors in the city: Jade, Pablo, Robert Penino, Gillian, Mark, Avery, Al Sipzener And these are only the ones I know. Not one of them gets off the bike and dances... Oh, wait! Spoke too soon: one girl does it, but nobody who is serious about getting a workout attends her class. Do yourself a favor: ignore the hype; get a membership in one of the good gyms in New York and you will enjoy a warm shower and steam room after your workout. Who knows? You may even meet a new friend who is willing to walk you home in case Carmel is overbooked.

  • http://www.reviewmo.com/ mobbapp

    i like biking around our neighborhood.

  • Sarianne Isohaaro

    ahh, soulcycle.
    read about it everywhere! such a good article..! even though I'm not really sure what's the difference to spinning!

  • THE VIKTIMS

    Broke a sweat reading this...

    http://viktima.blogspot.com/

  • Fabsbabs

    I've compared classes at Flywheel to ones at David Barton Astor Place where I have a membership, and let me tell you--you get what you pay for. I am drenched in sweat when I leave Flywheel and bikes are a much better quality. At the end of the day, though, the $30 price tag was way too much. I can go to Flywheel four times a month, or I can join a gym and go every day if I care to for the same price.

  • Bee Juice

    Hannah Bronfam is so gorgeous! You should definitely do a 'top shelf' or 'the face' feature with her.

  • Lia

    No matter how much I hear about Soulcycle, I just don't get why you'd pay $32 for one class there when you could pay not much more for a MONTH at a gym. If I were going to Soulcyle to satisty my workout needs, I'd be dropping $512/month (4 classes/week). At my gym (which is a 5 minute walk from Soulcycle's Union Square location) I get unlimited classes, access to machines, and locker rooms with awesome showers for $84/month. Is the status thing reeeeaaaally worth it?

  • http://twitter.com/deeyarah Deeyarah

    In any class the instructor can make a huge difference, it's true. Although I know SoulCycle has an armylike selection process and special SoulCycle training for their instructors, they put the best on the bikes. My first class was in NY and I went in all judgmental, and was almost mocking the situation. Afterall, I wasn't a biker, rider, spinner... none of that... Nope, I was a gym girl, a bootcamp type. So I gave SoulCycle another go, this time in LA! Fifteen classes later I'm not sure why they haven't hired me to be their spokesperson; I'm the biggest fan.

    Each class I burn close to 1000cals easily, I feel lighter, tighter and just right. It's absolutely great, forces you to work the core, the lower body shapes up in no time and definition in the upperbody is a sure thing. Seriously... it's worth the hype.

    Don't make it a thing, just enjoy it.

  • http://twitter.com/deeyarah Deeyarah

    In any class the instructor can make a huge difference, it's true. Although I know SoulCycle has an armylike selection process and special SoulCycle training for their instructors, they put the best on the bikes. My first class was in NY and I went in all judgmental, and was almost mocking the situation. Afterall, I wasn't a biker, rider, spinner... none of that... Nope, I was a gym girl, a bootcamp type. So I gave SoulCycle another go, this time in LA! Fifteen classes later I'm not sure why they haven't hired me to be their spokesperson; I'm the biggest fan.

    Each class I burn close to 1000cals easily, I feel lighter, tighter and just right. It's absolutely great, forces you to work the core, the lower body shapes up in no time and definition in the upperbody is a sure thing. Seriously... it's worth the hype.

    Don't make it a thing, just enjoy it.

  • Josephine

    This is too funny! You made me wanna join, even though I'm not a fan of working out with big groups of sweaty people.

  • Maryk

    Watching the pathetic cameo on Real Housewives of NYC (yes, guilty as charged) made me confirm what I already knew: SoulCycle is no more than a gimmicky effort to trick the rich and the B-listers who unavoidably follow them into feeling that they are a of a separate kind... As for me, I am not paying top dollar for what is offered in any gym membership package. It is not my pleasure to finance someone's high lifestyle... except maybe for Donatella Versace!

  • tonietta

    i've been teaching spinning for over 15 years... funny... I thought i was teaching "soul cycle"..... someone trademarking and putting a name of what we've all been doing for years.... smart. you can get the same workout with a great instructor, w/out all the hype.

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