Last weekend I did something I didn’t think I’d ever do: I went to a SoulCycle class.
Have you heard of SoulCycle? I had. I had for quite some time.
In fact, I have been ignoring those two little words for a while. My excuse was lame, but I rolled with it: I’m short and thus, bikes and I have never been BFFs. Biking is hard for short people. My legs never quite reach the pedals, and when I lower the seat for them to actually make pedal-contact, my knees somehow always manage hit my boobs with each revolution. My girls do not like the bike. Thus, I do not like the bike. It was simple math:
My Boobs > SoulCycle. But when I’d talk to my SoulCycle devotee friends about it, they’d all use similar adjectives to describe the experience:
“so f’n hard”
“you should come”
Wait, I’m sorry, “so f’n hard”? Um, no, sorry; besides the whole knee-to-boob-biking-ratio-problem mentioned above, I also prefer to avoid any real exertion in my cardio routines, aka 3.4 mph on a 0 incline treadmill. And also, I hate standing out in a crowd. When you don’t know how to do something, you’re afraid to do it, because – if you’re like me – you’re afraid to draw attention. The worst thing is when the instructor stops the class and corrects you (I mean, KILL ME NOW, PLEASE). Those factors alone would make me run – run – by a SoulCycle building.
But last weekend, my friend – who I lovingly call my Bad Influence (turns out she’s a fantastic influence) – peer-pressured me into going. Okay, so maybe it was more like guilt-spended me into going and/or drunk-cornered me into going. It was a random Thursday night and she was in town from LA just for the weekend.
Having invited me for a glass of wine at her hotel, we were catching up when out of nowhere my friend asked, “Hey, V, what are you doing on Saturday afternoon?” My two-glasses-in response was “Nothing!” (because my Bad Influence friend always has great ideas) at which time she grabbed her computer, pressed a few buttons and exclaimed “Great! I just signed you up for SoulCycle. A bunch of us are going. You’ll love it.”
Ho. Ly. Crap. I quickly changed the subject hoping that somehow that reservation would magically disappear.
A night of revelry on Friday night brought up the next day’s class and the “You are so going to bail!” challenge from my friend (am I really that easy to read?). Sure, the inevitable “Now I can blame Friday-night-and-get-out-of-this-class” excuse had crossed my mind
seventeen a couple times, but my desire to prove people wrong is apparently greater than the fear of my boobs repeatedly being smashed by my knees for 45 minutes on a bike that goes nowhere.
So my answer was, “I don’t bail!” (<-lie)
Guys, there’s really no way to describe a SoulCycle class, except to say, “go”.
I walked into the tiny room filled wall-to-wall with bikes wearing shoes that are not incredibly fun to walk in if you have no balance and carrying a large bottle of water that you get for free, which immediately made me sweat. My brain tried to do this thing with angles and geometry and distance and “how am I not going to touch my neighbor during this?” but I gave up because everyone in the class seemed to know exactly what they were doing and of course, I was scrambling looking for a padded seat and an extra towel because that’s what spin bike survival mode does to you.
Tip: you don’t sit long enough to worry about padding for your tush, and you only need one towel for the excessive amounts of sweat that will emanate from every pore on your body because the second towel will just end up on the floor beside your neighbor (sorry about that).
I wearily adjusted my bike and sat “warming up”, trying to read the SoulCycle mantra-printed wallpaper on the opposite side of the room, and convinced myself that this wasn’t going to be as difficult as I anticipated.
Our instructor was hot – I think – he sounded hot, but I couldn’t tell because they turned the lights off, which was – frankly – awesome. I was stationed in the back corner (thank you SoulCycle check-in team who suggested that location was the perfect “beginners bike” hideaway) and after one final “this-is-going-to-be-too-hard/oh my god my boob-to-knee-ratio” panic, the class started.
Here’s what I learned after a SoulCycle class:
– If you ask your neighbor for help adjusting your bike, your knees will never make contact with your boobs and that is pretty fantastic.
– I possess zero rhythm.
– I really do love Top 40 music way too much, thank you for that playlist Mr. Possibly Hot Instructor.
– I sweat more than most people, I’m pretty sure.
– My Bad Influence friend, seated one bike ahead of me, has an incredible ass. I know because it was my focal point and got me through the hellish half-way point that required lifting 1 lb weights while pedaling as fast as humanly possible.
– 45 minutes flies by when you are focused on not passing out on a bike. – The only person in that class who I needed to worry about was me.
– I am stronger than I think I am.
– I set my own limits.
There was no Kumbaya when the class ended (I hate post-exercise Kumbayas). Our instructor congratulated us for not dying (okay, maybe those weren’t his exact words) and we just filtered out of the room, red-faced, sweaty, and relieved into the 26 degree cold which never felt so good.
My Bad Influence friend caught up to me, checking in on my SoulCycle de-virginizing.
“So? How was it?”, she asked.
“Good. Hard. Good. I think.” Those were the only words I could process.
On the walk home, I reflected. The constant, yet not overly excessive encouragement throughout the class kept me pedaling, knowing that if I wanted to stop, nobody would stop me. In that room, for 45 minutes, I forgot that room was filled with people – it became the Me Show. Turns out as much as SoulCycle is a community (and it is), you’re your own island in it. The class demographic is as varied as a NYC street on a Sunday afternoon and everyone on one of those bikes was new, once. Everyone there once feared that first class. Some people still fear their second. And the fear isn’t driven by the strenuous exercise – it’s driven by us, the cyclers. The fear is a fear of self-acceptance; of realizing sometimes we can push ourselves to extremes greater than we think we can achieve. And I pushed. And I achieved.
Last weekend, I left SoulCycle proud of myself and I think, in the end, that’s what it’s all about.
So what is SoulCycle?
“so f’n hard”
You should go.
Featured Image via SoulCycle