I had heard the stories about SoulCycle, the cult-like spin version of CrossFit and at almost $35 a class, I figured I would never try it. That is, until my friend contacted me saying one of the local studios had a “Community Class” available- read: free. Never one to pass up something free, I quickly signed up for the class figuring that maybe I shouldn’t bash it until I tried it.
As recommended, I showed up to class early and was greeted by a cheerful row of staff at the front desk. I signed in and initialed next to my reserved bike, was handed a pair of spin shoes and quickly shown where the locker room was. Once I got into class and spotted my bike I began setting it up and making the necessary adjustments before realizing that there were itty bitty little 1-pound weights sitting behind the seat. I was told that we use the weights later in class for an upper body workout. Foolishly declaring myself a body builder, I asked to switch them out for some heavier weights (the heaviest being 5lbs, which of course I naively opted for).
Soon, all the lights were turned off -except a set of spotlights on the instructor- and class started with an enthusiastic cheer. Next thing I knew, we were on our way, spinning madly to the beat like a drug induced club kid-type frenzy. Every time I thought I got a hang of what we were doing things changed. Pretty soon we were bouncing up and down, back and forth and side to side in some sort of mad attempt at doing an “ab workout”. All I know is that I’ve done a lot of ab workouts and I’ve never felt anything quite like it. In fact, I didn’t feel anything in my abs at all. All I felt was myself losing the beat as I looked around frantically wondering what the heck was going on.
At one point I looked up and realized we were back to spinning. Cheers erupted sporadically from various parts of the room. Phew- back to something I knew.
Oh wait- no it was time to grab the weights. Maybe that’s why people were cheering? Maybe I didn’t know what was going on.
Once more I found myself completely confused and lost about what was going on. Arms were pumping up and raising the roof non-stop for several songs. We also did something were we were “rowing the boat”. I found myself flailing around randomly, quickly regretting my request for the 5lb weights and hoping our enthusiastic instructor would just get back to spinning.
We did. Eventually.
Once we finished the upper body “workouts,” class continued in a relatively normal fashion. Cheers continued to erupt from various areas of the darkened room at random intervals in a sort of attempt at solidarity and encouragement. I just continued to try and focus on sticking to the beat.
Class concluded with a sort of yoga-style streching which included various positions with one foot over and around the handlebars while the other was still locked into the bike. Never before have I attempted cobra on a bike. As I strained to focus on not slipping and either twising my ankle or doing a faceplant with my front teeth into the handlebars, I couldn’t help but think this just wasn’t the safest way to end a class.
Finally, with a click, an awkard shuffle and another click, I freed myself from my contraption and quickly made my way to sancturary: the locker room. All in white and brightly lit, I bundled my stuff and found a corner to strip down in the packed room before making it over to the showers. Suprisingly, the wait was only a minute or two and as I opened the door to my private stall I was in awe. More spacious than my entire bathroom in my Brooklyn apartment, I relished in the moment and pampered myself with products- afterall, I had earned it, didn’t I?
Later that day as I walked around to finish doing errands in the city, I thought about the class. Maybe with more experience of what to expect, I would have enjoyed the class more but I’m a stickler for the basics…and safety and functionality. Call me boring but give me a hard workout within the confines of what a bike is supposed to do. I’ll save my weight training (with weights) for when I’m on the floor, not on my bike.