How to Survive Your First SoulCycle Class
Why are there earplugs at the entrance? Are we going to a rave? Why do Mondays at noon matter? And, what in the heck do they mean AROUND THE WORLD? Where are we going?! Breathe. I'm going to get you through your first SoulCycle class, but I need you to do me one favor. Bring your inner warrior, because you're about to fight for the most important cause of your life. You.
At my first SoulCycle class, I was incredibly intimidated. Two years ago, I was invited to the opening of the new studio in Marin, CA to participate in a "blogger ride." I had just started blogging, so I was more interested in meeting other bloggers than doing a workout. In fact, I was so excited to meet these girls that I actually prepared for my first SoulCycle ride by taking spin classes for a week leading up to the ride! The second I set foot inside the SoulCycle studio, I was starstruck by how fit everyone was. They were all toned in their SoulCycle sports bras and leggings. I started panicking. How am I going to keep up with them? What if I look stupid doing the moves? What if I fall off the bike?! Yes, that was a serious concern I had. However, I learned that these fears were all normal, and I wasn't going to let them stand in my way of taking the class. Almost 200 rides later, here I am writing this blogpost. And, I never fell off my bike.
Let's start with attire. For women, leggings, a sports bra, and a lightweight tank are the most comfortable. It does get hot and sweaty in that room, so get ready for that. Make sure you pull your hair back into a bun. Ponytails are OK if your hair is short, but if it's long don't be that girl whipping everyone in the face. BEAUTY TIP: Because sweat is so salty it actually dries out your hair, so keeping your hair in a bun keeps your ends protected. Men can rock workout shorts and a tee. As far as the shoes, SoulCycle has cycling shoes available to rent for $2. I recommend renting the first few times you ride, and once you've decided you want to commit to SoulCycle then it's worth investing in your own cycling shoes. SoulCycle has a really great pair, which you can buy here or check out your local Big 5. Whatever you do, make sure you have water with you! You can bring your own water bottle, or purchase a fancy Fiji bottle directly from SoulCycle for $3 a piece.
Getting Set Up
At your first ride, you'll have to create a SoulCycle account and sign the release form. Then, head to the lockers to put your belongings away and strap your shoes on. Grab your water bottle and head into the studio!
Once you're inside, there will be a number of staff wearing yellow t-shirts to help you get set up on the bike. There are 4 settings that should be adjusted according to your body. First, the seat should be raised to line up with your hip. Next, the handlebars should be your forearm's distance plus 3 fingers away from the seat. The height of the handlebars should be adjusted based on your height. This requires some trial and error, because everyone's body is different and the bike will need to be adjusted accordingly. The SoulCycle staff will help you with all of this your first, second, even 100th rides to ensure the settings are correct. Don't be afraid to ask for help, ever! Once all the settings are in, the knobs must be clicked into place. THIS IS IMPORTANT. If any of the knobs are loose, you can hurt yourself. Everyone is open and willing to make sure you have a great experience, so don't be shy to ask for a hand.
Listen to Your Body
Last week, I got a DM from one of my favorite SoulCycle instructors, Nikki. She said my usual bike just opened up and I should ride her Soul Survivor class that weekend (Soul Survivor is an hour long, instead of 45 minutes). Towards the end of the ride, I started feeling woozy. I know my body so well that I knew I was dehydrated. Water wasn't going to help me, so I sat in the saddle and gave my body some time to recuperate before jumping back into the final sprint. Did I care that I was in the front row and was sitting instead of being up in 3rd position? Not at all. At SoulCycle, your priority is you and no one else.
Every single SoulCycle instructor will tell you within the first 5 minutes of class to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Parched? Drink some water. Tired? Take a break. Bored? Crank up your resistance! The instructor will guide you with raising and lowering the resistance, but ultimately it's up to YOU to decide how to turn the wheel. It can be daunting seeing everyone around you pedaling like crazy and sweating up a storm. Don't try to keep up with them, they are on their own journey. Focus on yours. There's a reason why the lights are dim, and there are only 4 candles keeping the room lit. It's to get you in the mindset of uniting your body, mind, and soul through the bike and the music. It's a purely a personal experience. If you feel yourself getting lightheaded or queasy, take a minute to sit in the seat and pedal slowly, then get back into it when you're ready. No one is going to call you out for doing what's right for your body.
Don't be Scared of Being a New Rider
At the beginning of every class, the instructor will ask who is new to SoulCycle to ensure ALL new riders feel welcome. The community at SoulCycle is very warm and welcoming, and we love seeing new riders come through! We are all there for a reason - to challenge ourselves and to become better than the people we were yesterday. No one is going to be a jerk, and if they are they probably won't be back at SoulCycle anytime soon. Jerks don't feel welcome at SoulCycle, because it's "not their scene." One of the things I'm truly grateful for is the community that SoulCycle has created, because they really do treat you like family.
Be Open to Pushing Yourself
You ride a few times, and you've decided that you LOVE SoulCycle. You're obsessed with it! You start going a few times a week, and before you know it you're one of the crazies waiting for the clock to strike noon so you can book your bikes for the week. Like anything in life, challenges start to feel like warm ups over time. SoulCycle started a new class called SoulActivate, which is a high intensity interval training class involving very heavy resistance and less sprinting. It wasn't until I took my first SoulActivate class that I realized that I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I used to. The beauty of SoulCycle is that it can ALWAYS challenge you. Regardless of the music, the instructors, or the choreography you control the bike and you determine how challenging the ride will be. I'm nearing my 200th ride, and to this day I sweat so much that I look like I took a shower in that room. Gross, I know, so if you see me riding next to you I wish you the best of luck! ;)
Stay Hydrated and Well Rested
It's so important to hydrate, replenish, and rest your body after such a high intensity workout. Get in the habit of feeding yourself a carb and a protein within an hour of riding. I usually reach for a protein shake or a Sweetgreen salad afterwards to recharge. To learn more about Sweetgreen, you can check out my vlog on their late summer menu here. I also made a really yummy mango lassi protein shake, which you can make yourself using this video.