Los Angeles really is the place for living active. There is every kind of workout you could ever imagine. With a cross-fit gym and yoga studio on just about every corner, the options are endless and, at times, overwhelming.
I have never been the kind of person who picks just one particular activity and sticks to it. I like variety like it’s my second name. Back home I mixed up my workout week with vinyasa yoga, hot yoga, boxing, body pump, body attack, dancing and the occasional stair run. My questionable attention span loved it and my body loved it even more. Yet since moving to LA I have struggled to find my move mojo, but somehow managed to locate the chicken and waffles, sweet potato fries… and Wholefoods mac & cheese.
As an attempt to fill this void I set out to mark the spaces in my weekly LA workout schedule. First audition off the block: SoulCycle.
Missing my fave workout SOS’s over here I wasn’t able to send a last minute text to them to make the 6:30pm class (always works at home), fortunately the roommate had dabbled in the odd spin class so I suggested they come along.
A girl from work had told me ‘It’s NOTHING like a regular spin class, it’s a million times more fun’ which was a pretty huge relief. I downright despise ‘regular spin class’. I never know how to set up the bike properly – it hurts my feet, my knees and well girls, you know where else.
The SoulCycle website suggests you arrive 15 minutes prior to class start time so you can sign in, get familiar with the studio and be properly fitted to your shoes (yes, like real clip in cycling shoes) and your bike. The roommate was running late to pick me up and by the time we made it to Santa Monica I was ready to throw in the sweat towel and hit In’nOut to calm my nerves with cheesy fries.
Coaxed in by the bright lights, we were greeted by a bunch of super friendly staff who resembled all of my favourite emoji faces in their even friendlier yellow shirts. As Rosy Cheeks took our names, Oval Eyes Smile gave us some forms to fill out and asked our shoe size. As she handed me a pair of size 10s, Squinty Tongue suggested we choose the bikes we wanted from a chart and write our names next to the bike number. It was suggested we take 42 and 43 as they were not right at the front but had a good view of the instructor. All this happened very quickly and before I knew it I was clip-clopping my way down a hallway lined with neon signs and motivating wall decals (just like an LJ Pinterest board). As we entered a darkened, thumping room Rosy Cheeks and Cheesy Grin appeared and led each of us to a bike. I guess the bike baggsing routine is a flawed system because 42 was already occupied by a sweaty spinner and after some awkward fumbling in the dark we snagged a couple in the very back row (phew!). I was briefly man-handled by an emoji (it was too dark and too loud to tell which one but I’m assuming it was Bicep-Curl), who adjusted the bike to suit my height and helped me clip my booties into the peddles and away I went! I had the sudden urge to peddle furiously and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I realized everyone in the room was doing the same thing. Leading the pack was the Instructor/DJ in a cropped tie-dye tank top who was busy pressing buttons on his super hi-tech sound system/DJ decks. No dorky waist belt microphone things here. I think we must have missed the warm up because suddenly the beat dropped and every soul in the room launched out of their seats and was cycling in time with the pumping tune.
Still a little resistant to the cycle class idea, the first thing I noticed was that we spent A LOT of time cycling standing up in the peddles, as opposed to sitting in the seat. The instructor demonstrated the correct posture, describing the need to feel strength and stability through the core whilst sticking your butt back so it hovered over the seat. Once I got the hang of the technique, it was easy to spin in time with the beat and get lost in the music. Thanks to the help of my emoji-mates, I didn’t feel any tension in my knees or feet that I previously experienced in a regular spin class. It was hard work but it was fun! As the class progressed and the music got crazier, I half expected a strobe light or some pyrotechnics but instead, the instructor turned up the heat by incorporating crunches and push-ups using the different handlebars. These were pretty awkward and very challenging to begin with. With my years of dance training and expert skills of coordination (if I say so myself), I dared not glance over in roommates direction. Poor guy.
At times, the music was extremely fast I couldn’t keep up. It’s in times like this you have to remember to not compare yourself to others, because there were some serious hardcore bikers in that room. Towards the end of the session we were asked to grab our hand weights (conveniently sitting in a handy rack right under the bike seat) and we followed a routine of weighted arm exercises (all whilst still cycling, obviously) – bicep curls, shoulder presses and rows. Thank goodness they supplied a fresh white hand towel on every bike. #Sweaty.
For the sake of keeping this article clean, let me just make a little side note that there was some pretty aggressive (but totally acceptable) motivation coming from the instructor as the resistance dials turned up. Yep, the F Bomb was dropped on more than one occasion and as long as you’re not easily offended it helps! A SoulCycle class requires ample amount of encouragement and stimulation to push through, and they sure do provide it! No thinking that you’re riding up a mountain or racing your neighbor to the finish line. Sorry, but we all know a usual spin class involves going absolutely nowhere. On the other hand, SoulCycle has a cool, nightclub vibe giving you a treat for the senses that totally distracts your mind from the insane work your muscles are doing. In the last track we were told to drop our heads and close our eyes and just relax into the music. A quick but amazing stretch at the end and the class was all over. I somehow managed to unclip and hobble out, my straggly sweatiness leaving me similarly self conscious as I imagine one would feel leaving a club at sunrise. We dropped our shoes and towels into labeled bins and waved goodbye to the swarm of emojis and left the building on shaky pins. Feedback from roommate was a little less positive than my own. I think the tie-dye instructor / DJ / f-bombs were a little overwhelming for him. Poor guy times two.
SoulCycle ticked all my boxes. It was fun, sweaty and challenging without being frustrating.
I’d love to fit it into one of my regular timeslots but $35 a pop for a casual class, it’s probably a once-in-a-while thing for now.