Okay so if you’ve been reading for a bit you know I became fairly obsessed with spinning last year while on a hiatus from running after two years of marathoning. I fell in love with Flywheel after my first class at Nike’s NTC Tour event in LA and instantly became hooked on the intense cardio, loud music, dark room and escape that it provided from the real world. Moving out to SF messed with my workout routine a bit as there aren’t any Flywheel studios in the city (yet) so I’m switching it up a bit… with SoulCycle.
The Workout: SoulCycle ($30 in SF, price varies city to city)
SoulCycle is a spin studio with 45-minute classes that focus on inspiration and transformation with loud music, a spa-like environment (complete with candles!) and instructors who will not only push you physically, but mentally as well.
What To Expect: SoulCyclers take the whole experience pretty seriously – from the branded apparel that you’ll see almost everyone sporting to the honor that is riding in the first row (pro tip: unless you’re a pro, don’t book a bike in the front row. They actually have rules about it and the vibes/energy that the front row creates for everyone else). BUT with that being said, don’t be intimidated.
Expect a dark room where you’re encouraged to be the best version of yourself for 45 minutes with an encouraging instructor and loud music to help push you during your ride. SoulCycle places a heavy emphasis on the music as your guide during class – you’ll be climbing and sprinting on rhythm to the beat of the music, with various jumps, push ups and other core/upper body workouts mixed into your ride. SoulCycle is basically a cardio dance party, while riding a spin bike – you’re guaranteed to be in a good mood post ride and be feeling the good vibes for the rest of your day.
What To Wear: Low-impact sports bra, tank top and leggings or crops. Spin shoes are required for SoulCycle classes and you can either bring your own (pedals are compatible with SPD and Look Delta cleats) or rent them for $3). Towels will be provided and definitely bring a water bottle to stay hydrated during your ride.
Final Verdict: While my loyalty to Flywheel had me resistant to SoulCycle at first, I’ve come to realize that the two are vastly different instead of true competitors. SoulCycle‘s workout is definitely more mentally focused, with an almost yoga-like emphasis on clearing your mind and leaving everything outside of the room during class. If you’re looking for a high-end fitness experience, SoulCycle is a must – each studio is gorgeous and full of perks and amenities, with locker rooms and showers stocked with everything you could possibly need post-spin class. I definitely enjoy the SoulCycle experience as a whole, especially compared to other spin options in San Francisco, but thrive more in the competitive, data-driven experience that is a Flywheel class (plus I still can’t get over the price tag of SoulCycle!). Definitely worth a try or as a special treat in your workout routine but be prepared for it to cost you if you become seriously hooked.