In this episode of "Undercover-Fit Guy," I dig out my fake nose and moustache to check out the spin class known as SoulCycle. My goal this time is to find out what SoulCycle is, how it works, and what aspect of it I should review.
1. How Effective Is SoulCycle at Being a Full-Body Workout?
Let me set the stage. Your feet are literally (not figuratively or metaphorically) clipped into the pedals, your bum is on (or right above) a seat, and your hands are in one of three slightly different positions on the handlebars. Need I say more? This is the equivalent of trying to get a full body workout while wearing a straight jacket.
This is not a problem if SoulCycle were aiming to give you a “cycling workout” but trying to claim that this is “full body” is a problem. So it is the promise more than the delivery that I take issue with. Sure, we stopped pedalling for a few minutes and lifted some (comically tiny) weights but the fact remains that we were in a seated position, feet attached to the pedals, while we bicep curled and overhead pressed away with the three or eight pounds dumbbells.
2. How Much Does SoulCycle Cost?
I paid $31.50, not including a $2 shoe rental fee which they generously waved for me since it was my first class. All that is instead of just heading outside to ride my bike to the grocery store, to the office, or around a park.
I may be biased here since I have always been an avid cyclist but think of it this way: The bicycle itself was invented for one reason only—locomotion. It was not invented to be a piece of exercise equipment. If it were, the designers would have been fired. Just because you can get your heart rate up by riding a bike doesn’t mean that it is the ultimate in fitness gear. That is simply not the purpose of this tool.
3. How Hot and Sweaty Is SoulCycle?
I am making a leap here but I am guessing that this was intentional and meant to give us the impression of a very hard workout.
People who follow this blog may already know that I am what you would call a heavy sweater, but when you put anyone in a small, poorly ventilated room, with a bunch of people riding bikes headed to nowhere, everyone is going to sweat heavily. Regardless of how much (or little) you twist the tension or resistance knob on the bike.
The SoulCycle website claims their workout will give you “high-intensity cardio, muscle-sculpting strength training, and rhythm-based choreography.” I have already mentioned the (embarrassingly) tiny weights and I will get into the choreography later but for now, let’s talk about cardio.
A cardiovascular workout may sound fancy and impressive but cardiovascular exercise is simply “a movement or series of movements that raise your heart rate.” That is it. So yes, you can get a cardio workout by running up stairs, chasing your child or pet, shovelling the snow off your driveway, or dancing around your living room.
In a SoulCycle class, the factor that determines whether you are getting a high, medium, or low-intensity cardio workout is how far and how often you turn the tension knob up or down on your bike. But given the temperature in the room and lack of air flow we all ended the class with the look of someone who had the tension set to kill.
In fact, someone at the back of the room dropped their weights at one point during the cool-down portion of the workout and I was immediately ready to administer CPR to the poor collapsed soul (ha) on Bike #14.