I’ve never been what you’d consider to be an athletic person. I was on swim team in high school, but only because we practiced at the all-boys school by my house.
Fitness is so much easier to incorporate into your life during high school because someone is literally forcing you to do it. As you get older, fitness becomes more of a choice than a graduation requirement. Plus, all these things get in the way – school, work, kids, etc. It’s easy to tell yourself you simply don’t have the time to exercise. But if you’re really honest with yourself, you come to realize it’s not time that gets in the way – it’s you.
The hard truth is that fitness is a choice. I’m not saying that school, work, and kids aren’t legitimate excuses for not exercising (because they are totally legitimate). But the fact is they still ARE excuses.
Look, we’re all busy. We’ve all got a million things to do and not enough time, hands, or help to do them. But your health has to come first. And that’s why I chose to take a SoulCycle class.
I’ve tried pretty much every exercise class out there – Zumba, yoga, pound, pilates, belly dancing – and I’d avoided SoulCycle specifically because I knew it was work. Most of these classes were offered through my gym, LA Fitness. You didn’t have to register for them, so if you didn’t show up it was no big deal. Well, it turns out when I’m not held accountable for things, I just don’t fucking do them. Lame, I know.
PRO TIP: In order to purchase the $20 class, you have to call the studio. Before you call, make sure to go online and look at the studio’s class schedule, and make sure you’re not calling close to when a class is scheduled to start. The person on the phone won’t be able to hear you, and will tell you to call back.
The person I spoke to on the phone (I want to say her name was Gabby?) was super nice, and could tell I was nervous. I explained to her I was overweight, and nervous about not being able to keep up with the choreography. I also told her I was self-conscious about my body, and was afraid people would judge me (I had two GROWN women laugh at me at LA Fitness during a Zumba class). She told me not to worry, and recommended I take a class with Mark.
After I booked my ride, I received the following e-mail:
“What the what?” I thought. “Dress code and hydration information – what did I just get myself into?” Obviously, this was a serious gig for serious people…was I that person? Absolutely not. But I wanted to be, and that makes all the difference.
I did as the e-mail said, and arrived on the early side. The two people at the front desk were super friendly and helpful. The girl (shit, I really have to get better with names) provided me with shoes, and explained a class was about to get out, and she’d help me once the room was cleaned.
PRO TIP: SoulCycle rents shoes for $3.00, but they are complimentary on your first ride. They’re designed to clip into the bike, but I’m sure if renting grosses you out, you can buy shoes like that somewhere.
As the class let out, panic began to set in. Every person that came out of the classroom was covered in sweat – on their shoulders, their legs, their face. They were so wet I thought there must be mist fans in the classroom because there is no way you can sweat that much…WRONG! You absolutely can, and will, sweat that much.
A few minutes later I was sitting on top of a bike in the back row, clipped in and ready to go. The class began to pour in and so did my fear. That’s when I discovered one of the greatest things about SoulCycle: the community.
PRO TIP: On your first ride, sit in the back row so you can see the instructor clearly.
Everyone was super friendly and encouraging. They told me not to be nervous, go at my own pace, and just to have fun. When Mark came into the classroom, he asked if there were any new people. I sheepishly raised my hand, along with another dude, and we were given a round of applause simply for showing up. The lights dimmed, the music started, and before I knew it, I was sweating my life out. JFC you sweat so much.
The other great thing about SoulCycle is the vibe. The class is conducted by candlelight so it’s just you, your bike, and your intention. Mark encouraged us to think about why we were there, what we wanted to do, and reminded us that this was our time. That’s one of the other things I love – it’s about you. Just you and your ride. It’s whatever you want it to be.
Side note: I had to leave the class early because I picked the wrong size shoe. The shoes were a little tight when I put them on, but I thought, “Hey, it’s better that they’re a little snug so I don’t fall off.” Not so, my friends. You want a little wiggle room because when we got going, the added pressure of my weight, combined with the smaller shoe, cut off circulation to my feet. When I got off the bike, my legs were trembling and I was on pins and needles. Not cool and I’ll definitely not be making that mistake again.
I lasted about a half hour before the pain started to kick in, which I think is pretty good considering it was my first time. When I emerged from the classroom, I felt high. The music, the dim lighting, and the ride create such an incredible rush. I was covered in sweat and my heart was pounding (but, like in a good way). Staff immediately rushed over to make sure I was okay, and were super nice and encouraging about (sort of) making it through my first ride. They also gave me a welcome envelope that contains a complimentary second ride which I’ll definitely be using!
All in all, I really loved the class. I’m totally sore today – my legs hurt, my ass hurts, my arms hurt. But other things are sore too – my pride, my self-esteem, my joy. Because just like my legs and arms, I don’t exercise those things enough either. SoulCycle really puts their customers front and center during the ride. You’re encouraged to pat yourself on the back for showing up because SHOWING UP IS A BIG DEAL. Even if you’re just showing up to the gym to walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes, you still showed up and that’s awesome.
Mark made it clear that we need to value ourselves. He made me realize that I don’t give myself enough credit for the things I do, but I definitely give myself a ton of shit for all I don’t do.
I bought five more classes when I went home, and can’t wait for the next ride.
If you’re thinking about taking a SoulCycle class, click here so you can help me score a free class!
PS – I forgot to mention this, but the studio itself is amazing. It was super clean, and they have sanitizer, hair ties, and earplugs at the front desk. They also have tampons and deodorant in the bathroom. Like, that is legit AF.