REVIEW: SoulCycle Spinning has a lot of problems

REVIEW: SoulCycle Spinning has a lot of problems

There’s been this new trend popping up in NYC, LA and The Hamptons, called Soul-Cycle, and what it is meant to be is a spinning class in a club, with a little weights, and a little yoga sprinkled in at the end.

It’s actually not a bad idea, it’s spinning but with an upper body work out at the same time while being blasted with a pretty awesome mix of loud music.  I personally went to soul cycle at different locations over the course of a couple months, in total I went to 14 classes, at 4 different locations in NYC and spent a total of $515. But after rushing to reserve those 8am classes in the morning, and spending all that money I was starting to realize that Soul-Cycle isn’t as cracked up as they lead you to believe.

Before I get into it I want to be clear that this isn’t meant to be an absolute dis on the experience, the idea of Soul-Cycle is awesome, but the owners are out for more profit than a positive experience in my view.

 

Cost

You’re paying a premium at $34 each class, (ED NOTE: Classes are cheaper if you buy in packs). But if you’re reading this in SF, Hamptons, or LA you’re realizing that you pay a completely different price. What you may not know is that Soul-Cycle’s prices vary depending on their market, with the Hamptons being the most expensive at $40 per class, and LA being the cheapest at $25 per class.

I was shocked to find out that LA was only $25 per class, there seems to be no legitimate reason for the price difference, the cost of living is very similar, and the classes are just as booked as they are in NYC.

Location, First Class, Single Class, 5 Class Series, Soul Teen
CA – LA,$15,$25,$125, N/A
CA – Marin,$20,$30,$145, N/A
NY – NYC, $20, $34, $165, $40
NY – Hamptons, N/A, $40, N/A, N/A

In addition to the cost above remember renting their reusable shoes are an additional $3 per visit. And a bottle of water at $4 as well.

 

Location

If you’re a someone who uses a lot of different locations of Soul-Cycle, you’ll quickly realize that no two locations are the same.  And for an organization that’s expanding as fast as they are, and are making as much money as they are, you’d think they would add the position of Developer/Interior Designer to their staff.

Let’s cover a couple locations:

NYC – Union Square

What their website shows the bike positions as.

What their website shows the bike positions as.

What you will soon discover they actually are.

What they actually are.

The bikes are placed so close that depending on where your hands are on the bike, you may either get a lovely wiff of the person in front of you, or perhaps a little sweaty butt touching. Fun right?

The bikes are also extremely close together to the left and right of you, which means when it comes time to do the weight portion of the workout, you’re actually unable to complete the entire movements the instructor is telling you to do because you’ll hit your neighbor.

Please excuse this extremely bad drawing to illustrate.

High Five Man!

High Five!

The same sadly goes for the people who are unlucky enough to sit on the back row. Some moves require you to lift the weights behind your body, and that wall makes it quite difficult, unless you’re superman of course.

NYC – Williamsburg (May 2013)

So perhaps these were growing pains, Soul-Cycle is extremely popular, you have to plan your whole week on Monday when you’re going to go or else no classes for you.  So maybe they were just unprepared and built their space incorrectly?

Wrong, the people who source their buildings are just plain ignorant when it comes to designing or finding the space.

Let’s look at their newest addition to the family, Soul-Cycle Williamsburg that was added in May of 2013.

What their website shows the bike positions as.

Again, What their website shows the bike positions as.

Oh, Hey massive pillar in the center of the room.

Oh, Hey massive pillar in the center of the room.

I will never understand what could have possibly went through their mind when sourcing this location.  Let’s find a large room that has a massive 8 ft x 8ft pillar in the center of the room.  This will be perfect.

Williamsburg Notes:

(1) Hot water runs out midway through the day, after my 12:30 pm class there was no hot water left in the showers.

(2) The cleaning women are perfectly fine with being in the mens shower room while I’m completely naked. Sadly it wasn’t the scenario that we have all would have desired.

 

Calories

I didn’t have a way to scientifically test the exact amount, but throughout this experience I was always curious about the “Cost vs. How Many Calories I Was Burning”.

I’ve sourced my results from Soul-Cycles own website as well as a few sites around the web. Of course everyones milage will vary and it depends on how much you put into the class, what your resistance is set to, etc..

Soul-Cycle.com,400-550 Calories

Health.com,500-700 Calories
More Than Mary,420 Calories

Tracid Mitchell,410.85 Calories

Running – 4 Mile Run,400 -500 Calories

Instructors

Nothing is more true than this, no two instructors are alike, and your workout can vastly differ depending on who you get. Different instructors handle new people differently, get stuck with the wrong one and you’ll have no clue how to operate the bike.  Some instructors will do a quick demo for the class if they see hands raised for new people, some instructors will just wave one of Soul-Cycles staff over to the person since they can’t be bothered with it.

The other thing I’ve learned is that you can either have an awesome intense workout that’s just go, go, go, or you can have a really horrible slow moving workout that feels like you burned more calories walking there than working.

 

Summary

All in all, it’s an interesting experience, I urge the Soul-Cycle community to start to become vocal about issues.

(1) The community really needs to look at how having the bikes so close together and how the poor space conditions are affecting their workout,

(2) Soul-Cycle needs to lower their costs or keep their pricing consistent across markets,

(3) Soul-Cycle needs to hire a proper developer/designer that knows how to design the inside of a space.  For the amount of money you are making, there is NO EXCUSE why there should be massive pillars in the middle of rooms, or bikes touching other bikes.  If your instructor is telling us to stretch our arms, we shouldn’t have to worry about hitting the person next to us.

And that is my review. As far as if I’ll be back? I’m not sure.  From my research running for the same duration is still a better workout.

Namaste.

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Walter Marrero 228 posts

An executive analyst at an elite technology & business focused publication.

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7 Comments

  1. PrettyGirl33
    July 08, 12:01

    I’ve had a similar experience with my girlfriends, we stopped going. Way more fun to just run!

    • I still occasionally go, now I’m into CitiBiking! But even when I do go I purposely perform the workouts as instructed, even though I’m hitting the people on the side with my arms, I basically want them to complain so that things change. It’s not so much as a dick move but seems to be the only way, negative experiences will cost them money, which will then get them to listen.

  2. Interesting review and I would certainly agree on a lot of your notes. I hate when I go to a class and I am literally hitting the person next to me (and I am 5’2″ so it really shouldn’t be a problem). My biggest issue is the money… I am all for people making money when they have a great idea but I think they need to make some better monthly options. $37 for a class… damn shoe rental is a lot of cash!

  3. vladimir
    December 15, 16:56

    Im one of their architects. Every space is designed and built exactly as it is intended to be used. And then the classes sell out. End of story. Thanks.

    • SCClinet
      December 18, 01:00

      I’m a client, but no, most classes are no longer sold out. In Union Square, only about 6 classes (Danny, Madison) are sold out this week. The rest have only a few bikes booked on average. They’ll get a bump in January, but then it will be back to the same old.

  4. Oh Vladimir, you architects. Listen to people. People live inside those little boxes you are drawing on your computer.

  5. CardioJuncky
    January 19, 18:12

    I’m an avid cyclist and I used to road race in the past. I took one one of those classes, at their new location in San Francisco, WHAT A JOKE !! Anyone who understand the basics of real cycling will laugh at them! It is a fad I’ll give them 3 more years before they go out of business !!!

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