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Trying SoulCycle For The First Time? Here’s What You Need to Know

I am staring down at a sweat-soaked towel, while my legs are spinning at the rate of a Nascar’s tires in a dark room with a peppy woman who looks like a young Ellen DeGeneres telling me to “face your fears. Turn that resistance knob to the right.” Did I wander into some strange cult seminar, you ask? Well kind of, I went to SoulCycle for the first time this week and I am here to give you all my newbie knowledge so you know what to expect.
 
I had always been interested in going to SoulCycle – the girls with the trademark yellow wheel on their pants just finished with a class looked so fit and invigorated that I figured there must be something to 
 
the cult-like following the brand had amassed. This week, I decided to become one of them when I signed up for my “First Ride” $20 class over the phone. If it is your first time ever going to SoulCycle make sure you get the $20 class – the normal price is $34 which equals one boozy brunch so, I think its pretty obvious which option I would choose if forced to fork up $34 for something (I choose the mimosas, obvi). Sign-up is pretty easy: you just choose an instructor and a day. Be warned, though: there are apparently some horrible instructors out there, so be sure to get a recommendation from a friend on the best ones in the studio near you so you didn’t just waste your money on a lethargic drill sergeant. Once you register, you just have to wait until the day finally arrives! 
 
My first ride was on a Thursday at 5:30pm at the Union Square studio, so I figured it would be pretty packed with yuppies and aspiring actors getting off of their day jobs. I was not wrong. When you get there, you are directly affronted with two things: the smell of grapefruit and the astounding amount of fit, beautiful people. Don’t be intimidated, though. They are all really kind and helpful – especially 
the people at the front desk. I arrived about 20 minutes early, so a peppy man eagerly showed me around the studio and gave me water. After the tour, I went downstairs to the crowded, but oddly relaxing locker rooms. These lockers are impossible, so you will definitely need to ask a kind soul-cycler for help. Everyone who I asked was really kind and I was heading upstairs cycling shoes in hand to the class in no time. 
 
I chose a bike in the back, which I definitely recommend for first timers, because then you can just do your own thing without the nerves of being watched by those behind you. The bikes are set up in rows, with the front row called “The Pack.” “The Pack” at my class were some of the most physically fit people I have ever seen in my life, and I was happy not to be in front of them as I struggled to snap in my shoes to the bikes. Ya’ll this is the true struggle of SoulCycle and you will look silly trying to snap in your shoes. But, eventually you’ll get it and sit on the bike like you are Goffrey on the Iron throne surveying your underlings. Well, maybe not that dramatic but you will feel pretty damn proud of yourself.
 
By the time I got settled on the bike the instructor bounced in, sharing stories of her son and talking about her day. She was so approachable and kind that I really felt comfortable in the class, even though I had no idea what I was doing. Then, the mood changed, the lights dimmed and all that I could hear was the blasting of a remixed “Light ‘Em Up” by Fall Out Boy, the whirring of 30 bike wheels, and the quickening breath of the people in the room. Now, I am not a newbie to exercise. I used to row D1 crew at Fordham University before I transferred to NYU, I ran a half-marathon, and I try to workout about 3-5 times a week. I consider myself to be a pretty in-shape person, but collegiates, let me tell you, at Soul Cycle it was as if I had never exercised a day in my life. The instructor did intervals, with us standing up on the bikes and sitting down, mixed with some light arm workouts with weights and modified push-ups on the bike. At five minutes in, it looked like I had just jumped into a pool and my legs were screaming for mercy. But, strangely I kept going. That is the real magic of the cult of SoulCycle, the push to keep going. The entire time, the instructor was yelling inspirational phrases like “ Be honest about who you are trying to be” and “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Those would hit home at just the right times. I am usually not easily moved by these things and consider myself to be pretty skeptical about trusting in a process or a trendy mantra, but SoulCycle really is on to something. After a while the pain melted away into the floor and suddenly the class was over. The lights became brighter, we did some acrobatic stretches on the bike and I exited feeling like an actual warrior who had earned every sweat bead. 
 
If I had an extra $34 laying around every week, I would no doubt head back, but unfortunately I am a poor college student, so it is the free Community Rides for me with trainee instructors. You can sign up for the free rides on Monday at 12, just like the regular classes and get all of the Soul without the hole in your wallet. SoulCycle definitely was a different kind of workout that focuses more on the whole person then on the hot bod that you will inevitably get if you become a regular. The classes speak to you, and in the dimly lit rooms with the energy of thirty bikes whirring the message hits home: The Way your Ride Your Bike is the Way You Live Your Life.
 
More tips for your first ride:
– Go with a friend. The ultra-ripped group is much less intimidating with someone else with you.
– Wear your hair in a bun. Ponytails become like the Whip the dude in The Davinci Code had after five minutes and is not pleasant.
– Bring your own water, they charge you for it there.
– Have an open mind and really give yourself to the class. You won’t get the full effect if you coast through it.
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