How to Prepare for your First SoulCycle Class

July 30, 2018

You all know how much we LOVE SoulCycle. You could say we’re SOUL-obsessed! We probably talk about SoulCycle a little too much with our friends, but we just want to share our love for riding with everyone.

We’ve heard a lot of people say they want to try Soul, but they’re too scared to. We absolutely promise it is NOT scary, but to help prepare any new riders we wanted to give some tips on your first SoulCycle class.

Signing up for your first SoulCycle class

The outside of the HLWD location

Create an online account

Super easy. Simply go to the SoulCycle website (or click here) and create your account. Your first class is $20, but you’ll have to call the studio to purchase the $20 class. There are also some periods where your first class is free.

Noon on a Monday

Every Monday exactly at 12:00 pm, sign-ups go live. You may not understand it yet if you haven’t tried or heard the stories, but yes, some classes goes faster than Beychella tickets.

So get your fingers ready to hit your bike. We suggest either asking a friend who’s a regular to do this for you, if it’s a very popular class, or really prepare yourself.

Also we highly recommend sitting in the second or third row in the middle. Even if you are a regular spinner, SoulCycle can be more difficult because of the pace, the beat, and the choreography. We even still sit second row for any new instructors we take because we are unfamiliar with the moves.

The day of your first SoulCycle class

We like to bring our reusable water bottle (this is the one we are obsessed with since it keeps our water incredibly cold and the straw lid makes life so much easier in class) filled with ice and water. If you forget, water is available for purchase for $2.

We like to wear comfortable workout clothes that’s made for a lot of sweat and high intensity. Grace prefers to wear crops because she sweats so much. But we both like to wear something that’s not shorts. We just feel more comfortable that way! We also like to wear a supportive sports bra that will get us through the 45-60 minute class.

We also always bring a pair of socks. If you forget, you can purchase a pair at the studio. We also bring our spin shoes or rent a pair from SoulCycle (for $3).

Arrive 15-20 minutes early for your first class!

Don’t worry, you’ll usually be handed a bottle of water not thrown one!

Arriving early will ensure that you will have plenty of time to sign into class, sign the waiver, and get help setting up your bike!

Ask for help to set up the bike

The SoulCycle staff members are always so incredibly nice and helpful. If you need help setting up your bike especially if you don’t know your settings, they’ll help you get set up in class.

Soul Etiquette

Soul Etiquette is seriously very important!

Pro tip: Swipe up and turn on the “theater mode” on your Apple Watch too, so your watch isn’t lighting up the whole room.

After your first SoulCycle class

We highly recommend stretching/foam rolling and drinking plenty of water!

Thankfully Grace caught this… or it would have been seriously embarrassing

Also fair warning, you may become SOUL-obsessed like we are.

P.S. If anyone wants to ride with us in LA, leave us a comment or send us a message! We’re always riding and love to meet new people!

How to Get Free SoulCycle Classes With Your Credit Card

Do the words “free SoulCycle classes” make you want to jump out of your seat and head to the spin bike? Well, get on up girl because there’s a brand new way SoulCycle enthusiasts can snag a free three-pack (or 10-pack) class to their favorite studio.

Kicking off earlier this month, American Express launched a collaboration with SoulCycle, where Platinum Card and Centurion Card members will have access to classes at reduced prices, which means you’ll reach that coveted SuperSoul status even quicker, and easier.

Every time you purchase a pack of 20 classes from SoulCycle, you’ll receive three complimentary classes (that’s a savings of US$102!), and you will also receive SuperSoul status when you get the 25-class series.

Don’t worry, though, that’s not all. You will also be able to grab 10 free “first time” passes if you’re a new Soul rider. On top of that, users will receive advance access to the company’s warehouse sales, along with free shipping on your orders.

Now that’s how you kick off a Monday morning 👊 #TurnItUp (📸: @ashleychmelka)

A post shared by SoulCycle (@soulcycle) on Nov 13, 2017 at 9:44am PST

The famed 45-minute workout has been a favorite for years, even for Victoria’s Secret Models, and it has amassed a serious celebrity fan base—and it’s no surprise why. The high-intensity, candlelight experience brings its riders closer together through every push and curve. It’s not just a sweat-dripping workout; it’s a mind-body experience that focuses on the rhythm of the one-of-a-kind playlists and that’s guided by trained instructors who will inspire you to keep moving to reach your goals, no matter what they might be.

With 82 studios (and more coming every year), it’s never been easier to get your sweat and soul on. And now, with deals like these, and the proven effectiveness of group workouts, there’s really no excuse not to hop into the saddle.

For more information on the partnership and how you can get your free classes, head here.

Orangetheory Fitness media event with creator Ellen Latham.

What It is: Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) is a trainer-led group class that combines rowing, strength exercises and running or walking on a treadmill. The goal is to rack up 12 to 20 minutes at a high intensity (what they call splat points) to boost your metabolism long after the class is over.

Read more about what to expect from your first Orangetheory Fitness class.

What You Might Not Know: Right now, Orangetheory Fitness is the fastest growing fitness franchise in the world (Entrepreneur 2019). Founded by physiologist Ellen Latham, it was recognized as the fastest-growing women-owned business in the U.S. by the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) two years ago.

Feelin’ the Love: At a previous media event, the company gifted me a 30-day complimentary pass, which I recently redeemed. During this time, I was also teaching my own fitness classes and seeing a personal trainer once a week, which has always been my routine.

So I didn’t attend Orangetheory Fitness on all 30 days (nor would I even recommend that—variety and recovery are also important). I went 2-3 times per week for a total of 10 workouts over the 30 days. Did it make a difference? Here’s what happened:

Burned a Bunch of Calories

My average calorie burn was close to 500 in each class, so based on 2-3 visits per week, that’s an extra 1,000-1,500 calories zapped over a week. And that doesn’t include any additional afterburn, where metabolism is higher after intense exercise—afterburn is what the entire OFT program is designed around. My trainer says I leaned out a bit, which I wasn’t even trying to do, so (bonus) I had to start eating more.

Photo credit: Brendon Purdy

Felt Like a Rockstar Runner

I was pleasantly surprised at how little time it took to become a better runner. In my first class, my running pace was mostly moderate and my heart rate was higher than I would have liked at times. Halfway through the 30-day pass, running felt a lot more comfortable, and I was selecting higher speeds with relative ease. By the last class, I was running all-outs much quicker than I had just a few weeks earlier.

In fact, toward the end of my 30-day membership, I ran my fastest 1K ever outdoors, according to my Vi AI running coach. I credit this to the treadmill time I logged at Orangetheory Fitness.

Anyone else obsessive about starting on the treadmill every class?

Met a Few Friends

As an introvert, I generally keep to myself, which is easy to do when everyone’s working on different equipment. Besides, if you’re able to strike up a convo during OTF cardio, you’re not working hard enough! Having said that, there’s plenty of opportunity to socialize because the area that people occupy before and after class is pretty tight. I ended up serendipitously reuniting with three people I hadn’t seen in years because the gym’s layout makes it easy to cross paths.

Photo credit: Brendon Purdy

Got a Tad Competitive

Orangetheory Fitness is a haven for competitive people like me. A common OTF format is to move back and forth between multiple sets of floor work and the rowing machine. You’re supposed to complete a specified number of floor work reps before you row. My secret goal was to be the first person to the rowing machine, especially when the other exercisers appeared younger than me (I know, it’s soooo petty). Did I make it? Most of the time, and that’s one reason why I consistently got a kick-ass workout. Of course, not everyone is as petty competitive as me; OTF encourages people to go at their own pace.

Finished Strong at Orangetheory Fitness 💪

In just 30 days, I noticed a definite change in my ability to exercise more intensely and feel stronger doing it. This was reflected by how I felt (#beastmode) and by the metrics Orangetheory Fitness emailed after class.

As I got used to the workouts, I was able to better control how and when I accumulated splats (they tell you to aim for 12-20). In my first class, I had 30 and was surprised it was that high; in my last class, I scored just 12 and burned exactly 100 fewer calories but ran faster than in any previous OTF workout. That was an accomplishment for me.

First class metrics (left) and last class metrics (right).

If I Could Change One Thing: Not every OTF coach explains how to row properly (did you know it’s actually a pushing activity more than a pulling activity?) Wishing I’d started with the correct technique from day one—and with a hunch that other OTF’ers might be in the same boat—I called my friend and colleague Josh Crosby, a Boston-based World Champion rower and top rowing advisor to Orangetheory Fitness.

He cut right to the chase: Most people make the mistake of simultaneously pushing with the legs and leaning back. (Oops, that might have been me.) “It’s inefficient and strains the low back,” he told me. (Oops.) Here’s what to do instead: “Push first with your legs. Then lean back with your core/back. Pull in with your arms at the very end,” he instructed.

On the stroke’s return phase, do everything in the opposite order. “Extend the arms first, then hinge forward with the core, bringing your shoulders in front of your hips. Finally, once the handle is past the knees, bring the legs up slowly to take another stroke.” Did you get all that? Watch Josh in this video to see a pro in action:

Fitness Rowing Order from Josh Crosby Fitness on Vimeo.

I was surprised when Josh told me it should take twice as long to come forward in the stroke as it does to push, lean and pull back. But doing it that way helps you avoid tiring out too quickly, which means a better overall Orangetheory Fitness workout.

“Rowing can be your secret weapon in Orangetheory Fitness,” Josh said right before we hung up. “The correct technique not only helps you avoid aches and strains, it can earn you more splat points during every workout.” For more rowing tips you can use to your advantage in OTF, check out Josh’s website.

Should you Try It? Yes! Your first class is free, and with 1,100 locations worldwide (including numerous in Canada), there’s no reason to put it off any longer. Get thee to an Orangetheory.

What is Orangetheory?

In January 2017, I began investing $179 a month in oranges (well, sort of). Seeking to maximize my return on investment (ROI), I wanted a combination of growth and balance, as well returns in the form of personal dividends. I found it at Orangetheory Fitness (OTF)

OTF is the best investment in my personal portfolio. I believe Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) will have a long-term place in my portfolio for a number of reasons.

So far, the returns have been stellar: I feel stronger, I have more energy, and I’m pumped to workout! Wait, workout? Let me back up a minute.

Related: 365 Days Later: 137,794 Calories & 198 Workouts

**Do you love Orangetheory? I do. Health is key.

But also don’t forget to take care of yourself financially**

Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) is a group personal training workout or fitness class. Orangetheory utilizes heart rate monitors during classes to track and display your burned calories, heart rate (beats per minute or BPM), and your time spent in different max heart rate zones. The workouts are based on high-intensity interval training.

During each workout, participants are able to see their progress and levels across the various max heart rate zones:

  • Red (Zone 5): 92% and above
  • Orange (Zone 4): 84% – 91%
  • Green (Zone 3): 71% – 83%
  • Blue (Zone 2): 61% – 70%
  • Gray (Zone 1): 60% and below

Participant board displaying max heart rate zones, calories burned, and other details at an Orangetheory Fitness studio; Image Source: PaperCity Magazine

What Are Classes Like?

Each class is one hour long (give or take a few minutes in actual practice). The class workouts and exercises are always changing (lots of diversity and variety!). Depending on time of day and your actual studio location, class sizes can vary. I’ve been in classes with less than 10 and as many as 45, but I’d say it averages 20-25 in my local studio (note: my studio is in downtown Chicago, which is larger than an average size studio).

The core equipment used consists of treadmills, rowing machines, and floor-based equipment, including free weights, suspension unit systems, and other items.

Related: Orangetheory Fitness: 25 Things You (Might) Learn or Do After 250 Workouts

Image Source: Tampa Bay Times

Endurance Days

Workouts focus on active recovery and typically consist of longer times and/or distances on the treadmills and/or rowing machines; weights and other floor-based exercises tend to be higher repetitions but with lower weights and/or intensities.

Endurance days are my personal favorite workout. Although, they are usually loathed by other classmates.

**Remember! It’s all about that base!

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Strength Days

Workouts focus on strength (I guess?). Treadmill and/or rowing machine portions of class are typically shorter than endurance days in terms of periods within a block (i.e., the mini chunks of time you spend doing a certain activity on a rower or treadmill). Weights and other floor-based exercises tend to have lower repetitions but with higher weights and/or intensities.

I usually avoid the inclines on the treadmill during strength days. But I’ll just increase the pace or speed instead.

Power Days

Workouts focus on – you guessed it – power! Each activity and/or block is typically even shorter than strength and endurance days, but with the highest intensities. For example, power workouts typically contain a greater number of “all-outs” than an endurance day, but with more recovery time in between the intervals.

Power days are intense, but they are very effective.

ESP Days

Endurance, Strength, and Power workouts consist of a blend of all 3 types. Other days might be a strength and power day. It varies greatly. There can also be other combination days, special partner workouts, and other types of challenges (whether on an ESP day or not).

Related: Orangetheory Fitness: How to Win (Your Personal) Dri-Tri

Overall, every day of class is very different with a lot of variety in terms of exercises, portions of time spent on the floor, treadmills, and/or rowers, as well as overall workout type. If life really is like a box of chocolates like Tom Hanks said playing Forrest Gump, then Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) is a prime example.

How Much Does It cost?

There are a couple of different costs associated with Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) and they can vary by location.

Monthly Cost

I’m a founding member at a “select” studio (i.e., a higher traffic thus more expensive location) that has pricing at higher rates. I pay $179 a month for an unlimited number of sessions (the “premier” level). The non-founding member rate would be $199 a month for my location.

Members can also choose to pay a lower amount each month to attend a fixed number of classes (“basic” and “elite” levels). You can also purchase pre-paid packages of classes in different increments. Checkout the Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) website for the latest details and to find a studio near you.

Start-Up / Gear Costs

I didn’t encounter any initiation fees per se, but you do need to purchase one of the Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) heart rate monitors, the OTbeat (comes in different styles / features). I paid $69 (plus taxes) for the chest-worn version. Again, this can vary by your location.

Source: OrangeTheory Fitness

Late Cancellations / No Shows / Late Arrivals

This is one of the reasons I love Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) – it deters me from getting lazy, holds me accountable, and keeps me motivated. If I don’t cancel a class before a certain period of time, fail to show-up to a class, or arrive too late, I get charged $14 (this can also vary by your location).

That’s enough to keep me from hitting snooze in the morning or from going home after work and sitting on the couch with a beer. Admittedly, not all the time though – especially if there is a really good beer in the fridge.

How Do You Book / Manage Classes?

Overall, technology is really at the core of Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) workouts. With the app, you can book your classes and perform a number of related activities. After each class, you also receive an email with your workout results and related details. It’s also easy to add your classes to your personal or work calendar.

One of the odd things (if not really a downside) though is there are two apps – (1) Orangetheory Fitness Booking and (2) Orangetheory OTbeat. The former is utilized for class bookings and administrative items, while the latter tracks your performance and results. It would be nice to get these two apps combined.

On the positive side, you do get an email after each class summarizing your results.

My workout summary and heart rate monitor results on Dri-Tri day. Source: Balanced Dividends via OTF


Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) is one of my favorite and best performing investments. I’m seeing returns on my investment: dividends in the form of my health and well-being. Overall, I find it much more cost effective than a personal trainer and it keeps me motivated and accountable. While not cheap, I do believe OTF is definitely worth checking out.

Readers, how do you stay in shape mentally and physically? Do you have anything you’d recommend? What are your thoughts?


160,962 Calories and 209 Workouts: 365 Days Later

Orangetheory Fitness: 25 Things You (Might) Learn or Do After 250 Workouts

2018 Goals Overview: What Do You Want To Do This Year?

A 10-Year Reflection: To Gym or Not to Gym?

Self-Reflection & Motivation

Orangetheory Fitness: How to Win (Your Personal) Dri-Tri

Our favorite free financial tool is Personal Capital. We use it to track our net worth, manage our spending & savings, and to monitor our investments. It’s simple and free to use.

We use Robinhood for free stock trading. Different account types are available, but we use the basic free version as part of our taxable investment portfolio.

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All Trainers must follow a mandatory “Orangetheory Workout” each day, little to no flexibility in program design. – .5 hour to 2.5 hour unpaid breaks between classes. You only get paid for your hour session coached. – Trainers can only work 3 classes in 1 Day. – Trainers are expected to spend 30 minutes before to prepare classes and after each class cleaning the studio (Unpaid). Which is ILLEGAL!!! – 100% Availability is Expected. – Cash Flow isn’t addressed for Trainers. – Trainers will be worked into the schedule extremely slowly. – Head Trainers/Trainer favorites will allocate the most profitable classes to themselves and earn a majority of the money. – No benefits, No Vacation Time, No Vision/Dental, etc. -Very political, they tend to have favorites and give them more hours. -Trainers don’t get enough hours to make ends meet financially(unless you work several locations) but they expect you to drop everything and be available at a moments notice. -Trainers are expected to do 12 “outreach hours” a month and bi-weekly meetings for $10 hr. -Trainers go through weeks of “training” at NO PAY before offered a position. -Trainers are expected to be part of a membership sales quota per month. They expect you to bring in or close 8-10 new members weekly. -Trainers spend additional hours at home studying next day workout launches at (NO PAY).

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9 questions about SoulCycle you were too embarrassed to ask

SoulCycle is 10 years old.

What started as a germ of an idea and an empty old dance studio on Manhattan’s Upper West Side has grown bigger than anyone, including its co-founders, ever imagined. It’s more than just exercise. In just a decade, SoulCycle has become a fixture in popular culture and is extending its reach all over the country.

The company is filing an IPO, just as it’s in the middle of a national expansion. And while many fitness studios and boutique gyms are forging deals with services like ClassPass (a sort of fitness class broker) to fill their empty slots, SoulCycle’s classes are thriving without any extra boost.

The company is also earning shoutouts and spoofs on TV shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Broad City, and Quantico. It’s become pop culture shorthand, often used to describe a certain type of person. And thousands of people — 50,000 riders per week — are addicted to it.

But what exactly is SoulCycle? It’s got to be more than an exercise class on a bike, right?

1) What is SoulCycle?

SoulCycle is a branded indoor cycling class that implements choreography on a stationary bike. Classes are held in a candlelit room (that smells like grapefruit) where words like “Renegade” and “Warrior” and “Obsessed” are written in gigantic letters on the wall.

The moves vary from crunches (while riding, you drop your elbows and support yourself through your abs) to tap-backs (the act of thrusting your hips backward while riding out of the seat), and are designed to work all the muscles in your body so that you’re exercising more than just your legs. Your instructor will tell you to position yourself in a certain way (hips back, arms tucked close to your body, shoulders down, etc.) that ensures you’re getting a good workout. Each session also incorporates a brief weight series of bicep, tricep, and shoulder exercises.

Here is a brief, basic look at a SoulCycle class:

Beginners often describe the class as a nightmare combination of sweat and inadequacy. Justin Kirkland, a freelance writer, blogged about his first SoulCycle experience, recalling a moment where he felt like stared at his inevitable mortality. He writes:

You have to be careful what you ask for, because as I was silently crying out for release, that’s when the nauseous moment happened. With no where to throw up, and too much pity to throw up on the guy in front of me, I kept pushing through. But when I pushed harder, all the body heat and candle heat and soul heat had caught up to me. I felt myself begin to get lightheaded, and I thought, This is it. I’m going to die right here, locked into a stationary bicycle, drowning in the aesthetic of a trendy fitness class.

The point of the class is to never stop pedaling against the resistance of the bike. If you stop pedaling you lose — and then a cannon sounds, an airship swoops down, and you’re ushered out of the arena. Or so I’ve heard.

2) What is a soul, and do you need to possess one to go to SoulCycle?

The concept of the soul is something that’s been reflected on and mulled over by history’s major religions, thinkers, and philosophers. When it comes to the latter, Aristotle’s definition of the soul is one that’s cited over and over in classrooms across this great country.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Aristotle’s theory “comes very close to offering a comprehensive answer to a question that arises from the ordinary Greek notion of soul” because it portrays how the soul “is agreed to be in some way or other responsible for a variety of things living creatures (especially humans) do and experience, also is the distinguishing mark of the animate.”

Aristotle believed there was a hierarchy of souls, and that plants were the lowest tier of living things, followed by animals in the middle with their action and appetites, and then humans at the top because of their power to reason.

According to SoulCycle, you have to be a human that is at least 4 feet 11 inches tall and at least 12 years old to partake in the company’s services. So, yes, you must possess the highest level of a soul by Aristotle’s definition to take a SoulCycle class, as well as pass a height and age requirement.

3) Would Aristotle approve of SoulCycle?

Aristotle didn’t just have theories about the soul. He also had theories about what constitutes happiness. And according to Stanford’s philosophy encyclopedia, he believed that happiness is rooted in virtuous activity:

Aristotle’s conclusion about the nature of happiness is in a sense uniquely his own. No other writer or thinker had said precisely what he says about what it is to live well. But at the same time his view is not too distant from a common idea. … He says, not that happiness is virtue, but that it is virtuous activity. Living well consists in doing something, not just being in a certain state or condition. It consists in those lifelong activities that actualize the virtues of the rational part of the soul.

In other words, if SoulCycle helps spur people to action and allows them to display virtues like courage or friendliness or honesty, Aristotle would be a fan of it. And SoulCycle’s biggest fans would definitely say there are moments in class where you feel brave, compassionate, and honest.

4) Why do people like SoulCycle?

There are myriad reasons, but results are the most important. People like products that work, and if SoulCycle didn’t help people who want to lose weight lose weight, if it didn’t help people who want to feel healthier feel healthier, it wouldn’t be as popular as it is.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve lost over 25 pounds since attending my first SoulCycle class a little over a year ago and have seen huge improvements in my endurance when it comes to playing tennis, running, and other activities. I sleep better. I’ve lost four inches off my waist. And I’m stronger and as fit as I’ve ever been.

But the draw isn’t purely physical.

People also find a community at SoulCycle (yes, I’m fully aware of how corny this sounds). There are very real stories about people who are battling cancer or depression and finding real meaning in that candlelit room. For some people, SoulCycle is a place to forge friendships. There are also people who find inspiration from instructors.

Ultimately, the people who enjoy SoulCycle enjoy it because they have fun doing it. The reason why they find it fun differs from person to person. And to be perfectly clear, there are plenty of people out there who don’t enjoy SoulCycle, and that’s fine too.

5) What happens if I like SoulCycle?

Nothing, really.

But if you tell people you like SoulCycle, prepare to be made fun of, at least by those who are aware of its reputation. A huge component of SoulCycle’s rise in popularity has to do with the jokes and spoofs about its community that have made their way into pop culture:

SoulCycle has been labeled a cult and an obsession — and those labels aren’t completely unwarranted.

The walls of SoulCycle studios and its promotional materials are covered in mantras like, “high on sweat and the hum of the wheel” or “the rhythm pushes us harder than we ever thought possible,” — which are, no doubt, strange and unnatural combinations of words. Instructors often have similar go-to sayings, and frequently recite them during class. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard actual humans say things like that outside a SoulCycle class.

But for most part, SoulCyclers and the company itself take the jokes in stride.

“Parodies help to elevate brand awareness and simply make us laugh,” Gabby Etrog Cohen, vice president of public relations at SoulCycle told Adweek about the parodies and the jokes. “We are huge fans of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Broad City.”

6) How successful is SoulCycle?

According to the company, its classes welcome 50,000 riders each week. Multiply that by $30 (SoulCycle classes start at $30 each) and you’re looking at a company that brings in around $1,500,000 weekly. And that’s not even counting retail sales — SoulCycle sells branded clothing and other items — or money made from shoe rentals and bottles of water.

In 2015, SoulCycle filed a registration statement and intention to go public. It was the first time the general public got to peek at the company’s finances. And, well, SoulCycle is swimming in money. Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal broke down its revenue and net income:

Soulcycle had revenue of $112 million in 2014 and net income of $26.5 million.

— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) July 30, 2015

Perhaps the most telling sign of the company’s worth (or, what its investors believe it’s worth), is when SoulCycle co-founders Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice resigned from their roles as co-chief creative officers earlier this month. The two had received a payout of $90 million last spring when Equinox increased its stake in the company, the New York Times reported.

7) What makes SoulCycle more successful than other indoor cycling classes?

Here’s the thing, there’s no logical reason for SoulCycle to be as successful as it is. Indoor cycling classes have been around for a very long time. Gyms have them. SoulCycle also has cycling-focused competitors like Flywheel and Peloton. Yet it’s somehow become the definitive cycling class.

Further, SoulCycle doesn’t offer the best deal, financially speaking, relative to its competitors. In New York City, a $375 Flywheel monthly membership gets you unlimited rides at a studio of your choice. SoulCycle offers no such membership, and charges $34 (in New York City) for every class. When you do the math, 30 indoor cycling classes in New York City — one every day for a month — will cost you $375 at Flywheel and $1020 at Soul.

Is Soul $645 better than Flywheel? To dedicated riders, that’s not even a valid question. And it’s the reason the company is making money hand over fist. That’s also why you occasionally hear stories about people going into debt over fitness classes.

If I were to narrow down the differences between SoulCycle and other indoor cycling classes, the two things that stand out are the equipment — specifically the bikes themselves — and the instructors. When it comes to the former, INC has a good article outlining what makes SoulCycle’s bike different (it weighs more and is more stable, and there are also designs implemented to maximize your workout and keep the bike’s chain intact). You can feel the difference between SoulCycle’s bike and others.

When it comes to instructors, SoulCycle maintains a vaunted 10-week training program and “audition” process. The New Yorker recently reported on the company’s initial screening process — its first-round auditions, basically — and it’s as silly, terrifying, and rigorous as you’d imagine. But co-founder Rice explained the instructor selection process in a way that makes a lot of sense: She picks teachers to suit the different types of riders that SoulCycle attracts.

“We are casting specific traits in different people,” Rice told the magazine. “So, for example, we call 5 A.M. riders our Roosters. They are super Type A and want a straightforward, intense workout and a teacher who will push them but isn’t too chatty.”

That SoulCycle is able to be more discerning with its instructors ensures that they pick people who want to be there. Sure, there may be instructors that people prefer over others. But by having such an invested and competitive training process, it helps ensure quality in its instructors.

8) What does “Noon on Monday” mean?


“Noon on Monday” has become a SoulCycle catchphrase, and it’s a direct reference to the class sign-up process. In each SoulCycle studio, all the bikes are numbered, and you pick one each time you book a class. In order to get the bike you want, you have to log in at noon on Monday — when sign-ups open up for the week — and be ready to nab your desired bike before someone else does. This leads to a competitive rush for the front row.

The front row of bikes — which was even the subject of a New York Times trend story in 2015 — is allegedly where the best riders sit; other riders follow their lead to stay on the beat. And when their less-experienced cohorts start wheezing or looking bent and broken (some people even barf), the front-row riders are usually still at ease.

To secure a spot in the front row in SoulCycle classes taught by the most popular instructors, you have to be one of the first people logged in, which is why you might notice your SoulCycling colleagues blocking out their calendars every Monday from 11:55 am to 12:05 pm.

9) I want to try SoulCycle. Where do I start?

It’s as simple as going to the company’s homepage and signing up. You can rent special cycling shoes (which you’ll need to clip into your bike) and buy water at the studio.

When it comes to teachers, every rider has their favorites. In New York City, Charlee and Karyn are my favorites, and in Washington, DC, I like Garrett, but you’ll develop your own preferences as you go. Some people gravitate toward instructors who make every move look smooth while others want to get murdered every class.

No matter what, the company’s system guarantees you’ll ride with a teacher who’s going to give you a workout. And if you do try SoulCycle and love (or hate) it, it’s okay. I promise not to tell anyone.

Grab some SoulCycle gear because it’s time to clip in. If you’ve somehow managed not to try this Spin workout yet, we’ve got all the details you need to remedy that immediately. Here’s your first tip: this class does wonders for your health and, well, your soul. It’s a high-intensity cardio workout that will tone your body from top to bottom while lifting your spirits. Here’s all you need to know before adding SoulCycle to your routine, including how much a class will cost you.

What Is SoulCycle?

SoulCycle is the Spin class everyone is always talking about, with its signature yellow bikes and grapefruit-scented studios. No, really — the scent is a thing. The classes themselves are like any other Spin class, in that it’s a 45-minute workout that’s high on cardio while you sprint through flatlands and climb hills. It’s also well-loved by many a celebrity, including Katie Holmes and Lea Michele.

What Is a Typical SoulCycle Class Like?

SoulCycle is less competitive than other Spin classes. You’re riding for the workout, not to beat the other riders in the class or even yourself. In fact, SoulCycle encourages the class to ride as one team to accomplish a goal together. It doesn’t focus on the numbers as much as the journey. You’re in a dim (and well-scented!) room surrounded by your fellow riders. The pounding music narrates the warmup, the sprints and climbs, an arm workout, and a cooldown and stretching session. SoulCycle throws a little more choreography and coordination into your workout, though, unlike some other Spin classes you might have tried. You’ll do push-ups on your bike handlebars and tap it back to the beat of your soundtrack.


How Much Do SoulCycle Classes Cost?

Prices vary by region, but there’s one thing you’ll find everywhere: a deal on your first class, with some cities offering a deeper discount than others. In New York, your first class is $25. One regular class will cost you $36, or you can buy a variety of class packs, including a 10-pack for $340. In Los Angeles and Miami, your first class is just $20. A single class is $30, and a 10-pack is $265. In Chicago, your first class is $20, one class is $32, and a 10-pack is $280. You can find all the price breakdowns on the SoulCycle website.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

SoulCycle is one of those workouts that once you start going, you kinda can’t stop, so be prepared for that! There are also studios all over the US and Canada so you can find your Soul no matter where you might be.

Image Source: Getty / Ari Perilstein

Everybody—even top executives—works the front desk.Every single employee, including top executives like Whelan and chief financial officer Sunder Reddy, begins their job training by working at the front desk at a SoulCycle studio—a daunting, frenzied job post in which, on any given busy morning, some 60 sweaty riders spill out of the cycling studios, and another 60 or so stream in, all with requests for shoes, water, and pleas to get off the waitlist. “Everyone sprays shoes,” Patrick Ryan Southern, SoulCycle’s director of operations and training, tells me of the front desk staff’s task of spritzing the cycling shoes rented by riders with disinfectant after each class. “It cultivates a sense of equality and community. We’re all in this together.”

It’s a hierarchy-shattering move that’s reminiscent of the CBS reality show Undercover Boss, in which chief executives in (awesomely bad) disguise work alongside company employees at more modest levels—except it’s no secret at SoulCycle, where one of the official company “core values” is “get dirty.” Whelan can be seen pitching in behind the front desk at her “home studio,” SoulCycle Tribeca, and taking what she learns back to the boardroom in a form of firsthand market research. “If you want to know what’s going on, don’t look at the numbers,” she says. “Go to a studio.” Soul’s new CFO, too, has been working the front desk at the Greenwich, Connecticut, studio. And as a result, “he’s not sitting in a conference room, disconnected, saying, ‘Well, we’re slashing this and investing over here,’ ” Whelan says. “He’s saying, ‘I connected into the studios; I understand their challenges.’ ”

Employees get paid time off for charity work.Consider it the new, soul-nourishing job perk: SoulCycle gives staffers two paid business days per year to volunteer at a charity of their choice (this past year, many chose God’s Love We Deliver, which prepares and delivers meals to people suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses). There is even a three-person charity team at the company, which has launched additional initiatives like a scholarship program in which low-income high school students ride free and are mentored by Soul employees.

It’s all part of the SoulCycle effort to keep employees happy and fulfilled, according to Whelan. “We watched, years ago, a training that really stuck with a lot of us. It said that people are really looking for three big things in their careers: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. They want to know that they’re working toward something that’s bigger than themselves.”

There’s a premium on keeping employees at the company.You won’t find an old-school “love it or leave it” management style among SoulCycle’s shiny, happy staff. Instead, Whelan pays close attention to SoulCycle’s retention rate (spoiler: it’s high) and makes a concerted effort to keep employees engaged: “We take a very long time to hire everyone into the culture”—anywhere between two and eight interviews—“because the culture is so important. Once we get you here, we really want to keep you here.”

Sarah Kiernan is Director of Talent Relations at SoulCycle, the indoor cycling fitness phenomenon. SoulCycle is known for its avid consumer fan base, but its employees are equally evangelistic about the brand.

As we will learn, there is a direct correlation between this evangelism and employee engagement at SoulCycle.

We asked Sarah what makes SoulCycle a great place to work—and how brands can better engage their teams for increased loyalty, retention and happiness.

MEDIABISTRO: How did you end up working at SoulCycle?

SARAH KIERNAN: I was working for a theater company when I was randomly approached by a recruiter who asked if I would be interested in a new job. I told her I would only go on an interview if it was a place where I wouldn’t have to sell my soul… She took that literally and after only a month or so I started working here.

MB: What has been your trajectory with the company?

SK: I started as the Executive Assistant to the founders and the Office Manager. I then focused on being an Executive Assistant for one and then—briefly—both founders.

After a year, we were opening our first Boston studio and my boss asked me to help convince our NYC instructors to move to Boston. They all ended up moving, and shortly after, I was promoted to Manager of Instructor Programming. Two and a half years later, I was promoted to Director of Talent.

MB: Why do you like working there?

SK: I have always thrived in environments that are formed by true, deep connection and human experience.

I love working here because even at the end of a long, stressful day, the people I work with will always find something to laugh about. We laugh more in this place than any other company I have ever worked for.

SoulCycle is a place where I can truly be myself. I never feel like I can’t dress, speak or behave in a way that is natural to me.

Lastly, at the end of the day, I truly believe we are changing people’s lives. I have seen people’s minds and bodies changed in that dark room and witnessed true love and community found in every studio and here at HQ.

MB: What makes SoulCycle a great place to work?

SK: The most obvious perk of working at SoulCycle is the free classes! As staff, we can ride for free and bring a guest. We can exercise as part of our work day, and the dress code is sweatpants-friendly (my dream come true).

We always say #soulpeoplearethebestpeople and it’s true. It’s so great to work with so many funny, creative and motivated people. Everyone here is an incredible hard worker.

MB: What programs or processes does SoulCycle use for employee engagement?

SK: SoulCycle offers specific internal development opportunities for its staff.

Our HR and Culture committee arranges intensive career development courses as well as numerous trainings that set us up for success not only in our current roles but in future career opportunities within SoulCycle or beyond.

Trainings on day-to-day functions in the studios are offered monthly. Big-picture career growth development trainings are offered every few months and can be either day trainings or extensive programs that meet over a period of months.

We also take feedback and communication very seriously, so we are constantly thinking about our jobs and ways to do it better.

MB: Why is employee engagement important to you?

Employee engagement is incredibly important at SoulCycle. We have really a really high retention rate here at SoulCycle, and it’s something that is important to us as a company.

It’s important for me to feel believed in and invested in so that I know the long hours and difficult moments I have are all part of a growth plan that will lead me to where I want to be in life.

MB: What can other companies learn from SoulCycle?

SK: One of our most significant core values is that “we are a culture of yes.” This is what sets SoulCycle apart from the rest.

So many other companies focus on how to get things done in a way that is super efficient, but here at SoulCycle our focus is ALWAYS on finding a “yes” for everyone and leaving them feeling good.

It’s incredible what a community of people who are happy and engaged can accomplish.

MB: Anything else you want to say about SoulCycle?

SK: Soul people are the best people 🙂

But while the math is simple, SoulCycle’s profit margins are surprising. If it has found a way to mint money, competitors should be able to swarm into the fancy indoor cycling world and beat it on price. This is not a business with high barriers to entry: Full-line gyms like New York Sports Clubs offer cycling classes to their members for no additional charge. In short, Economics 101 says SoulCycle’s high profit margins should be eaten away by competition.

Of course, as any committed SoulCyclist will tell you, SoulCycle is so much more than the free indoor cycling class you can take at your local gym. It offers mood lighting, a cadre of support staff to help you adjust your bike, custom playlists that match musical beats to choreographed cycling moves and charismatic instructors who pitch your workout as a path to self-improvement. But how hard would it be for another company to copy those features, charge $32 instead of $35, and steal market share while still collecting a profit?

The crucial question for potential investors in the SoulCycle public offering is whether the company has a true sustainable advantage: a unique factor that will get customers to keep paying more for SoulCycle than for its competitors. I talked with two groups of people who led me to think it might: business school professors and SoulCycle fanatics.

Jan Rivkin, a strategy professor at Harvard Business School, says businesses’ sustainable advantages can come in three forms. One is a unique resource nobody else can access: Think of De Beers’s onetime monopoly on the diamond market, or the patent on a blockbuster drug, or the secret formula for Coca-Cola. A second is positive feedback, where a company’s market-leading position helps it move even further ahead. Walmart’s huge market share allows it to pressure suppliers for lower prices, which makes it even more appealing to shoppers. Everybody wants to use Facebook because everybody else is on Facebook.

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