Soul Psycho

17 Jan

Welp, it was just a matter of time before I got back on my soapbox.

You knew it was coming, and I’ll get to the point 🙂

There is this article that was written about Soul Cycle – it is actually a couple of years old now, but has recently made its way back into the social media circuit, spurring quite a number of other anti-Soul Cycle articles and editorials (also floating around Facebook and the like). In short, I find them frustrating because I think they’re silly, vague and full of contradictory arguments.

I should preface by explaining that I very much enjoy Soul Cycle – I think it’s fantastic. But it’s not my primary workout. I don’t own a drawer full of wheel-stamped Nike pants and Tap It Back hoodies. I do own one single grey tank top, which is mostly used for sleeping because I underestimated my size and it’s a bit too short. Don’t get me wrong: I’m absolutely a fan and I think it’s hands down one of the most fun workouts out there right now, but I probably won’t have my birthday party there. I’m telling you this so you don’t think I’m simply defending my favorite workout or validating an expensive habit.

I’m sharing because I find the arguments made in most of said editorials to be fairly weak and strike me a cheap attempt to stir up controversy or defend an authors fitness “craft” of choice. And since I’m never one to hold back my opinion, here you go 🙂


Argument one: You aren’t burning as many calories as you think you are.

I guess I’m just a little confused about why this is important. Soul Cycle is very clear on their FAQs page that the workout can burn between 450 and 550 calories. The majority of claims floating around the Internet from folks who’ve taken class wearing heart rate monitors support this. But one author goes to far to make the argument that going 3x a week will only burn at most, 1500 calories, yet it takes a 3500 calorie deficit to lose a pound of fat. Well, to quote half of Instagram #fitspo uploads, abs are made in the kitchen. It would take an exorbitant amount of exercise to lose weight without reducing your daily caloric intake. Cardio is supplementary, and it’s no secret that cardio alone won’t change your body.

The authors bemoan the upper body element and try to “expose” it as nothing more than a catchy gimmick to differentiate itself. Maybe I’m missing something, but I was never under the impression that Soul Cycle was trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. I simply assumed they were switching things up from the standard indoor cycling class.  I even took a class in which the instructor skipped over the weights section (which really, is all of like 5 minutes, and for you authors who have never taken a class and whine about how 2 lb weights allow you to “noodle arm” your way through, this fitness junkie begs to differ) because we had started late after a rogue fire alarm, and she said very candidly “we figured out that it actually burns a few more calories to skip the weights.” No one is trying to trick you.

I cannot count how many people have told me that they never enjoyed working out a day in their life until they took a Soul Cycle class.  If there is anything that can get someone off the couch and feeling better about themselves, then why try and find fault over silly things like this? If “only” burning 450 calories as opposed to sitting on ones ass all day is the worst that happens, so what? I say, rock on Soul Cycle, for igniting a new-found interest in sweating among many an ex-couch potato.

Argument two: Soul Cycle and it’s spin-offs ((<- see what I did there?)) are unsafe because of the upper body element.

If there is going to be a real, single argument against Soul Cycle or any fitness routine, I suppose this makes the most sense to address. One author interviews doctors, cycling coaches, and folks from the Indoor Cycling Association (<- do you really think a competitor is going to give a fair assessment?)  who caution against the long-term potential negative effects of this kind of cycling.

But here’s the logic flaw: Google any single workout and you will find a plethora of medical professionals etc who warn of the long term effects of a given exercise. Running, weight lifting, boot camps, hot yoga – very few of these activities are without risks. Outdoor cycling, sports, competitive cheerleading- all of it.  Don’t believe me? Type “dangers of _______” into your search bar and you’ll get pages of returns, and plenty of quotes from professionals. The bottom line? Use enough resistance, take class from an experienced trainer who will take the time to explain how to work out safely, and do your homework. This is applicable to every single workout that exists.  If you’re going to attack one workout, be objective. Take a broader look at the entire industry.

Argument three: It’s Cult-y and Expensive.

At over thirty bucks a pop, Soul Cycle is expensive. But you know what? People spend money on what they place value on, logical or not. Obviously, the Soul Cycle devotees put enough value on something that they are getting from the workout to spend that kind of money on it, so who are you to judge? I can think of far worse things to spend $30 on.

More than a handful of authors make the argument that the price alone makes members feel important. First of all, that’s a helluva generalization.  To anyone who only takes Soul Cycle because it’s expensive? You have issues, sir/ma’am. But hello, there are people with issues everywhere you look: at church, feeding the poor, in the office, walking down the street, looking back at you in the mirror, and in an indoor spin class. Fact.

Do I feel like a member of the elite class for spending 30 bucks on an indoor cycling class? No, I feel like an a-hole. But you know what? For an entire year I left Soul Cycle feeling better than when I left my therapist. I cannot recall a single instance where I walked out of a Soul Cycle class and didn’t feel like a million bucks. True story.


I’m sharing my opinion because I see Soul Cycle as a company run by intelligent, hardworking women who left there careers to follow a dream and take a chance. In turn they have built a hell of a brand, and more importantly, a product that is absolutely adored by its clients. They’ve built a class that has the magic formula to turn folks who have never set foot into a gym into addicts. Every time I leave a Soul Cycle class, I walk out with a bunch of sweaty, tired men and women who are grinning from ear to ear, and I think that’s freakin’ cool. As someone who’s entire life was changed (another story for another time) after finding the workout that worked for me, it’s frustrating to see them made into an easy target because of their sweeping success.

In summary, I’m not saying Soul Cycle is the end-all be all of workouts. Indoor cycling alone probably isn’t going to change your body if you’re still eating cheeseburgers for breakfast and I’m not even saying it’s without risk. But do I think the haters out there who are complaining about anything other than potential for injury come across as awfully insecure. If you were thinking of giving the class a shot, I strongly encourage you to do so. Do your homework, go early to talk with the instructor about safety, and draw your own conclusions.

And in the words that so irritated one of the authors ragging on Soul Cycle, Namaste, badasses.




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