Recently, I embarked on a journey that I never imagined I would. I, a spinning newbie, took a SoulCycle class. Now, this was not a regular SoulCycle session, but a Soul 101 introductory seminar. Soul 101 is a series of three entry-level classes centered on the basics of SoulCycle, taught by multiple in-studio instructors for a more hands-on approach. From the setting up to the choreography, this series offers the perfect introduction to the SoulCycle brand. And what better way for me to master one of America’s favorite pastimes?

When I first arrived, I checked in at the front desk where a very nice man told me exactly what I need to do each time I sign in. Afterward, his coworker turned to me and asked if I had brought a towel. I hadn’t, so I began mentally preparing to be told that I would not be allowed to participate. He went on to explain that each Soul 101 class starts with water showering from the ceiling as an initiation to the program.

I nervously laughed and imagined myself riding home on the subway looking like a drowned Chihuahua. Luckily, he was kidding. I could already start to feel the fun, lighthearted, don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously vibe that SoulCycle employees encompass. And, I was fitting in already. I now had inside jokes with some of the instructors. These people were my friends, and things were going to be okay.
Entrance hi rez

I got my shoes and a bottle of water and headed over to the lockers to get situated. Expecting the worst, I texted my friends that if I died, I loved them. Then, wearing my spinning shoes, I hobbled into the studio feeling like a 13 year old girl learning how to walk in high heels. Pro tip: Remember the number of your locker, otherwise you will have to sheepishly attempt to put your pin into every single keypad. This happened to me. It was awkward.

My assigned bike was in the middle row where I planned to hide inconspicuously, but the class ended up being very small so the instructor told us to sit wherever we wanted. I took a leap of faith and moved to a bike in the front row directly across from the instructor. I knew that during regular SoulCycle classes, these are the most coveted. If Beyoncé was taking this class, she would obviously pick the front row, and I needed to harness the powers of Queen Bey to propel my feeble little legs into motion. I sang a few bars of “Flawless” in my head and I was ready to go.

We went around the room saying our names and a few things about ourselves. I felt like we were already becoming a team and the camaraderie was forming. These were now my SoulSisters. I could not let down Lisa from Long Island on bike 13. We were going to get through this together.

We spent a significant amount of time learning how to adjust our bikes. I was elated to have so much instruction, because this was literally the first time I had even sat on a stationary bike since high school. While we were taught how to clip in, the instructor, Becca, told a hilarious story about her first ride. She didn’t clip in her shoes and ended up knocking herself and the random woman next to her off their bikes. After this treacherous tale, I was feeling good. At least I wouldn’t do something that humiliating. The most embarrassing thing I was going to do was profusely sweat through my grey t-shirt, because who wears light charcoal to a high intensity cycling class? This girl.

We learned all about cycling patterns and peddling sequences. I was grateful, because without it I probably would’ve looked like a spastic chimpanzee up on that bike. Soon enough, I started to get the hang of it, peddling away while switching from 3rd position to 1st position like an old pro. I was pretty much the female Lance Armstrong up on that bike.

Once we had all mastered the basics, it was time for a mini class to bring it all together. This was what we had trained for. My girls and I were ready for the ride of our lives. It had all led up to this. A remix of Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” started pumping and our legs started churning. We were quickly riding as a pack, the philosophy that SoulCycle is famous for. We incorporated hand weights, clapping, and all three hand positions. All of our training was paying off, as no one seemed to struggle or appear confused.

During the final song, the lights were dimmed, which I loved because it made it less obvious that I was sweating like a sinner in church. We were told you drop our heads, close our eyes, and just feel the ride. I was practically on a kind of spiritual journey that I never imagined would happen while perspiring in a candlelit room in TriBeCa. The instructors started screaming with delight, which I honestly thought was a little weird, but I went with it and kept peddling for my life. Finally we finished off with some stretching, and I managed to not die while leaning over the handle bars. Then we did some yoga-esque hand moves and finished off with a Q&A session.

Would I recommend Soul 101 to someone who has never tried a class? Yes. Yes. 100 times yes. The lessons you learn are absolutely vital in understanding the basics of SoulCycle. If I had just thrown myself into a regular class, I probably would’ve survived after awkwardly asking the beautiful model next to me for help clipping in, but I am much happier having had the individual attention and step-by-step instruction at Soul 101. Want to try it for yourself? Head to Soul-Cycle.com to book a session now!

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