Why not be fabulous while being healthy? That is what Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice thought of when they created SoulCycle. The newest obsession with anything is having to do with being healthy. From discovering that red wine is a superfood to the rave of juice bars, everyone who is anyone is interested in being healthy. Gallup Poll reports that “More Americans are exercising consistently each week, with 55.5% indicating frequent exercise in June 2015, more than in any month since Gallup and Healthways began tracking this metric in January 2008.”
After all it does feel good right? Restaurants have caught onto this, grocery stores have caught onto this, department stores have caught onto this and perhaps the most important and obvious, training and workout classes have caught onto this. Attending the in workout class has become something our culture today prioritizes. It’s not just about having the in clothes or bag but now everything is changing. Yes, fashion isn’t going anywhere by any means, but now health and lifestyle seems to be the new in fad.
Started on the Upper West Side in New York City, SoulCycle attracted the rich and flustered people from this busy part of the city. The demand was high to get in a class and always very competitive to reserve a spot. It quickly became a celebrity obsession, which helped feed the rave. Marjorie Gubelmann from Vanity Fair says SoulCycle is “the Valentino of exercise.” SoulCycle exploded in New York City and the two founders decided to start up more in Los Angeles.
In the past couple of years it has become apparent that people were leaving their gym memberships for memberships at specific exercise franchises, including: Pure Barre, CorePower Yoga, Orange Theory, and SoulCycle. Belonging at these workout facilities has now become a trend. In the Where Magazine, writer Xtina spills that Los Angeles is just the place to “find the hottest classes for the latest workout trends.” Most people are going just because everyone else is going, and that’s when the addiction starts. According to the WebMD, exercise stimulates endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to morphine, which makes you happier, less stressed, and have more energy. We all have heard this but there has always been something stopping people from actually getting hooked on a daily workout— it’s the pain while doing it.
This is where SoulCycle differs from the rest. Working out is no longer something to cringe about or dread going to. SoulCycle has become an obsession that has gotten people addicted. Alex Morris writes in fashion magazine The Cut, that an instructor for SoulCycle in Tribeca says that he found SoulCycle and now he is “getting high on endorphins, not anything else”. Morris reports that an East Hampton bodybuilder then said, “I’ve never been so high. This isn’t spinning, it’s a way of life.” SoulCycle purposefully aspires to not just be a kickin’ 45 min workout but a consuming lifestyle. SoulCycle says that it “doesn’t just change bodies, it changes lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelight, epic spaces, and rocking music, riders can let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls”.
But is the high of SoulCycle worth all the rage? Despite the rich and famous’s consuming obsession, does the average Joe actually enjoy a class of this claustrophobic and delusive workout? SoulCycle has appeared in numerous amounts of high-end magazines, all raving about the cultish experience; however, all of these experiences are from typically the same sort of people, the people that fit in “with the cult”.
In a New York runners blog, the experience of attending SoulCycle is basically the experience of joining a cult, but in the worst way possible. She explained how gross and crowded it was, everywhere. But also how most people who clearly went on the weekly (part of the cult), gave her the judgmental beginner glare. She felt like she was set up to fail. The darkness of the room didn’t help distract her from the workout but instead freaked her out and made her panic. She described the workout as “sweaty, dizzy, loud music, people were shouting and no one really knew what was happening.”
SoulCycle isn’t intended to be a time of peace with just you, your thoughts, and nature. The class’s dynamics are meant to distract you to fully give 100 percent effort through the burn of every muscle. This is where the cult unravels. Very few runners, hikers, or outdoorsy person who enjoys their quiet and peaceful workouts, is gonna enjoy a loud, hot, and sweaty cycling class.
It differs from most because the entire workout involves solely cycling; however, it isolates each muscle in a different way than most are used to. Lauren Raeder from Denver, Colorado explains her experience as “unlike anything else you’ll ever try”. She goes onto describe her SoulCycle class experience: “The studio is gleaming white with really cool soul cycle clothes in the lobby and the girls who worked the desk are very professional. When you go into the studio, the lights are dim and there is a grapefruit scented candle burning. You get onto the bike and the instructors help you clip in and you warm up a little and then the instructor gets on her bike and starts blasting music (Skrillex, Justin Beiber, ACDC rock n roll, etc). They show you how to do push ups on the bike and do ab exercises and it’s seriously such a hard workout but is so enjoyable that you don’t realize it’s such a hard workout.”
In Vanity Fair, Vanessa Grigoriadis says it similarly, that the room is “hot and sweaty” and the “music is deafening, and it’s almost pitch black” and when you finish “you’re a pound lighter” thanks to struggle of those 45 minutes led by a pushing instructor.
Grigoriadis writes that at the end of the class, “It’s like a Native American sweat lodge: everyone is in a stunned, near-hallucinatory state”. SoulCycle’s different take on a workout has its trainees addicted and “super cult-y about it”. It has changed people from despising the hour at the gym, to frantically trying to reserve a spot in the next class at SoulCycle. Author Jill Kargman says that, “As good as it is for my ass, it’s better for my head. It’s mental floss”.
So, SoulCycle is clearly not just a workout for it’s trainees but more of a way of life for those who fit the SoulCycle mold. It is a cleansing of the mind, body, and soul. SoulCycle is one of a kind and the “part dance party, part therapy, part communal high” all add to that experience. Founder Julie Rice says in The Cut that SoulCycle was “an emotional outlet—not just a physical one.” Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler were inspired to give everyone else this same feeling.
They make sure that everyone gets this experience by hiring the best instructors out there. The Cut notes that the “instructors were hired because of their ability to inspire” and they are the “the soul of SoulCycle.” This careful hiring process along with the challenging and ambience of the class sets each customer of SoulCycle up for success and an addiction to the thrill, inspiration, and of course, jaw-dropping results.
Featured image credit My Chicago Athlete Magazine