That one small word sums up my entire experience at SoulCycle last night.
If you've read my recent blogs and Facebook posts, then you're aware that I have been on a roll with my new commitment to health and fitness. I love yoga, and recently I signed up for a P90X class as well. I walk a lot, and I've been eating right, making vegetable and fruit smoothies, and taking vitamins...basically doing everything that I can to get mentally, spiritually, physically, (and even financially) fit.
So, I decided to do something I've wanted to do for a long time. I signed up for my first SoulCycle class. SoulCycle is basically a spin class, where people mount stationary bikes and follow the lead of an instructor. But what separates SoulCycle from the average spin class is that the instructors are more like inspirational coaches. The music is uptempo, and high energy. It is an intense, full-body workout
So here's how my first class went:
I arrived at the studio and was greeted by friendly and helpful staff. They signed me in, gave me my Soul Shoes (special sneakers that clip into the bike pedals so that your feet are secure), handed me a free bottled water (the GOOD water, too! Not the dollar store bottled water, but Smart Water!), and directed me to the lockers. I hung up my coat, headed over to lock up my belongings, and couldn't help noticing how fabulous the facilities were. Clean, bright, upscale surroundings complete with SoulCycle clothes for sale and even a custom SoulCycle nail polish in a cute yellow color! This place was fabulous. I felt right at home.
I was glad that I had come alone, since it gave me an opportunity to look around and people watch without the distraction of a companion. I must have looked like the new girl in class as I strolled around wide-eyed watching all of the people getting ready for class. Several of the experienced members came over and asked if this was my first class. When I acknowledged that it was, I got high-fives and congratulations. And the class hadn't even started yet! I was told to seek out lockers on the top row because the ones closer to the floor were the ones to avoid. When I asked why, they explained that when class lets out, everyone bum rushes the lockers and you don't want to be caught beneath some sweaty cyclist as he/she retrieves their belongings over your head. I locked up my stuff and looked around at the bodies of the cyclists. I was amazed. One woman who looked to be in her early fifties had the best butt I have ever seen! All of the members had toned arms, legs, and booties and I was amazed. I looked down at my own legs and wondered how much pedaling I would have to do in order to achieve those enviable results.
I stepped into the bathroom and gave myself a pep talk. I was feeling a combination of nervousness and excitement. I told myself the things that I've heard a hundred times in my yoga classes. "Get out of your own way. Leave yourself alone. You can do this!" Finally, it was time to enter the studio.
I immediately noticed the motivational words and phrases on the walls. I was even more inspired after reading those. I internalized those words, reminding myself that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I found a bike near the wall in the third row - close enough for me to see the instructor, but far enough from the front that no one would notice if I screwed up. The words on the wall were to my left. I would glance at them constantly throughout the class to push me onward.
One of the staff members came by to help me adjust my bike to accommodate my small 4'11" frame. She explained what first, second, and third position meant in the class, and helped me clip my feet into the pedals and I secured my water bottle on the side of the bike. I was ready to go! The lights dimmed. It felt serene and atmospheric. I wore a pair of leggings, a sports bra, and a t-shirt and I noticed that the room was comfortably warm. Then the music started.
I almost couldn't believe my ears as Kanye's "All of the Lights" pumped loudly through the speakers. "Let's go!" the instructor yelled. "First position!" We all began to pedal to the beat. The instructor told us to stand and pedal, to give it all we had. I was off to a great start. My legs pedaled to the rhythm as I sang along with Kanye. I looked around the room and felt like we were all part of a great team as we pedaled feverishly. Next, the instructor directed us to turn our bike nozzles to the right, increasing the resistance. Now my legs were asking me what the hell my problem was! But I kept on going, glancing at the words on the wall for motivation. Rihanna's "Talk that Talk" came on, and I let her put the battery in my back as I pushed myself further. The music did not disappoint. They played everything from Coldplay to Alanis Morrisette to Jay Z. Each time I felt like giving up, they would play "my song" and I had to get back into the rhythm to pedal to my jam. It was literally music to my ears.
There was choreography, too! The instructor had us dip low over the fronts of our bikes and then bring it back, pulling ourselves upright to the beat. We were killing it! Everyone was dancing and cycling and the energy in the room was high. The instructor urged us on, told us we were on our way to the best physical shape of our lives. People yelled out "YEAH!" as our adrenaline pumped.
Soon, I became so hot! I peeled off my t-shirt (grateful for the dim lights) and continued the class in only my sports bra and leggings. Sweat poured off of my body, and I was so grateful for the fresh clean towels that they lay across each of the bikes. I sweat just as much as I do in my 105 degree yoga class! At times, I had to be honest with my body and slow down. Thankfully, I was in a row that allowed me to hide a little. I wiped my sweat, sat back and watched in awe as the experienced cyclists gave it their all. After a few moments break, I pushed myself to dive back in and did my best to keep up.
I couldn't help thinking, 'If my friends could see me now!' I laughed to myself at that thought and was grateful that I had come alone. I am very flexible thanks to yoga class. And my legs are strong thanks to a lot of walking and a little jogging. But my legs were not ready for the workout they got last night. My butt also killed me as I sat on that hard seat. Some friends had warned me that the bike seats are tough on an ass in spin class. But nothing prepared me for the torture each time we had to get "in the saddle" (which is what the instructor called sitting on the bike seat). I was always relieved when she told us to stand up and ride. (I was even less thrilled whenever she had us raise the resistance of our bikes. My legs were putting in WORK!)
Next, we were told to grab the weights that were attached on the backs of our bikes. We did curls and presses as we cycled to a song with a slower tempo. My arms were now as angry with me as my legs were. But the music, the words on the wall, and the focus of the cyclists around me pushed me onward. After several reps, we got to put the weights away and I sipped some water, breathlessly.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, the instructor announced that this was the last song. Having endured 90-minute hot yoga classes, and hour-long P90X and boot camp sessions, I could not believe how quickly the time had flown. (SoulCycle classes are 45 minutes long.) Knowing that we were on the last song gave me more of a desire to finish strong. I got my second wind and pushed through. When the song ended, we unclipped our feet from the pedals and stretched. I felt so exhilarated and proud of myself. After final stretches were done, we all exited the studio and headed for the lockers. Not one person was frowning. We all had smiles on our faces. Several members high-fived me for completing my first class.
It will not be my last! I think I've found my new love. The classes can be a bit pricey for those who like to exercise on a budget. But it's kind of like splurging on a Michael Kors bag, or a pair of Louboutin shoes. We work hard for our money. And every now and then it's good to treat yourself to prime rib instead of Hamburger Helper. I have decided to add SoulCycle to my regular fitness routine.
Be warned! This is not an activity I would recommend to those who are beginning to work out for the first time. I am no athlete, but I do exercise consistently. If not for that, I would have surely died last night (LOL). You want to build yourself up to this little by little. I could tell that many of the best cyclists in that class were avid marathon runners or bike enthusiasts who do this way more than once a month. They didn't slow down for even one second. If you decide to go to a class, pick a bike in the back and give yourself permission to slow down when your body demands it. Don't overexert yourself.
When class was over, my legs felt a little wobbly. But overall I felt fantastic! I was so proud of myself. I decided to go around the corner to Lush and treat myself to some bath bombs.
For those who are not familiar with these gems, bath bombs are divine. You drop one of these into a nice hot bath and VOILA! They swirl and fizzle until your bath becomes a fragrant and luxurious spa filled with beautiful scents and colors. They have ones that erupt into confetti, or bubbles, or hearts, or oils. I chose a shea butter one to relieve my dry winter skin. Once I had my goodies, I rushed home and soaked in the tub for as long as I could. (I soaked right through last night's episode of "Scandal" and didn't even mind missing it. That's saying a lot!)
To top it all off, I tweeted about my experience last night. And SoulCycle tweeted me back!
I went to sleep and had a beautiful rest. I woke up this morning with no soreness whatsoever! To top it off, I felt so full of energy and pep that I couldn't believe it. I see why SoulCycle is a way of life for so many people.
If you live in New York or California, I urge you to sign up for a class as soon as possible. I am exited to get back in there and have another go at it. The music alone is worth every penny.
Let me know how you like it. Good luck!
Visit http://www.soul-cycle.com for more information.