Inside SoulCycle: The Get-Skinny Workout NYC Girls Obsess Over

This story was originally published on March 26.
Everyone who does SoulCycle is certifiably obsessed with it. So obsessed, in fact, that they're willing to take 6 a.m. classes, book their workouts weeks in advance, and pay $34 (or more!) for just 45 minutes of sweat time. And, now that the cycle studios are cropping up all over the city, we thought it was high time that we got the scoop. So, we popped into the Union Square location to find out what it is that makes members call this workout unique, effective, and universally (gasp!) fun. Most say it's a mix of the intense cardio, loud music, and a common dedication to slimming down (or just staying fit). But beyond the ostensible desire to look good in a bikini, we found a real community that all SoulCycle members swear by. It's therapeutic and motivating — plus, burning upwards of 500 calories in less than an hour isn't too bad, either.
Click through for the real skinny on SoulCycle, and find out why some riders would pay anything for just one turn on the bikes.
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Photographed by CJ Isaac
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Outside of SoulCycle, Union Square.

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The class and instructors are poised and ready for "take-off."

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Manhattan has quickly become SoulCycle city.

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Charlie Atkins, SoulCycle Instructor

What are the benefits of SoulCycle?
"The benefits of SoulCycle are being able change people's lives in a minor way to a large scale. People don't really notice it until they start coming back, and then they start coming back even more. It's just an amazing company to work for because we're all obsessed with each other — the community that Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler have created is absolutely phenomenal. The benefits of working with SoulCycle are simply the community that they've created and just the amount of people that you work with, interact with, and change, not for the worse, but for the better."

What is your motivational motto?
"How you do anything is how you do everything."

What motivates you when you're motivating the class? What do you think of?
"Whenever I get in front of the class, I specifically think of classes that I have been in and how I felt at certain points, and what I wanted somebody to tell me afterward. You know, to try a little more, or 'it's supposed to be challenging,' like you signed up because you wanted something different, you wanted a change."

Physically, what are the benefits of SoulCycle as opposed to another spin class? What muscles does SoulCycle tend to target?
"As we claim, it's a full-body workout. But depending on how you come in — as far as your body-type goes — it's the results that you're going to get [that set us apart]. Overall, it's very slimming but also very toning. We do arms, periods, and push-ups on the bike — biceps, triceps, shoulders — and I notice a lot of change in the shoulders. There's toning or slimming of the legs, and you may not realize it but spinning is, actually, I would say, 70% core."

How many calories do you typically burn in a class?
"In a 45-minute class, it varies. There are so many factors, but I would say you could go burn from like 450 to 800 or 900. We have a guy that comes in who wears a calorie-monitor, and the most he's ever burned was like 1,100. I would say, on average, you're looking at between 450 to the 800 to 900 range, depending on how hard you push."

What songs are on your pump-up playlist?
"'Lunar' by David Guetta and Afrojack, 'Number 1,' 'Who's That Chick' also by David Guetta and Rihanna, and I'm known to play 'Closer' by Nine Inch Nails — it's my signature song that I kind of stole from over here. I play that song a lot. And I play a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a lot of bass-y songs. Another one that I always play is '1967' by Junkie XL."

What's the craziest fanatic story you have from working at SoulCycle?
"I wouldn't call it 'fanatic' but actually amazing. I've only been here for four months, but there was a guy that took my class back in early January, and he started coming every week. He ended up losing 30 pounds, which was phenomenal. We actually had his birthday spin on Saturday, so he brought in like 20 friends, some of which who have never spun before, and they were psyched."

What do you say to people who call SoulCycle a cult?
"If you look at it from an outside point of view, a lot of people judge it because they don't get it. I think with anything, don't knock it until you try it, and when you come in, group energy is totally a beautiful thing. At face value, if you look on our Twitter, people are like, 'Oh, sign up!' because they're worried about the signups on Monday. The way that I look at it is if you care about something so much and you love it and you want to share it with the world, it's great, and don't knock on it until you try it."

SoulCycle/Lululemon pants, Adidas sports bra.

Photographed by CJ Isaac
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Denise Kreft, Senior Account Executive, BCPM, SoulCycle Rider

What makes SoulCycle different from the average spinning class?
"The vibe, the community, the music, the instructors… It really is a community for me. I see a lot of my friends here, and I follow Danny Kopel and he only does SoulCycle, so…"

What are you hoping to gain from SoulCycle?
"Usually when I go on a SoulCycle, I look for some form of relief because I've had a long day at work. I'm a publicist, and it gets really, really stressful, so it's a way for me to kind of let out the frustrations or anything from the day. I'm also engaged, so this is kind of my way of getting ready for my big day, in terms of bridal."

What's the maximum you'd pay for a SoulCycle class?
"I would pay whatever it took. I mean, if they would raise the rates, I'd still pay for it."

What do you say to people who call SoulCycle a cult?
"You know what I'd say to them? I'd say, 'You've clearly never been to SoulCycle class,' and tell them they have to try it once before they get down on it."

Do you dress up for spin class? What's your cycle outfit?
"Yes, I dress up. I take a lot of editors to SoulCycle on Friday nights, so we have specific shirts that we had made for spin class, and the hashtag is "#beautyspin." The other day I came with a friend, and since he dressed up for the occasion, I felt the need to dress up, as well."

Are there any SoulCycle no-nos?
"Yes, if you're a new rider, probably don't ride in the front row, just because everybody watches the people in the front row, and there's nothing worse than somebody in the front row that completely throws you off. Talking in class is another HUGE no-no."

Have you ever gone biking outside?
"No! Haha! I'm the indoor biker, not the outdoor biker!"

Finish this sentence: My instructor is like my….
"My instructor is like my therapist."

SoulCycle tank-top, Sandro Jacket. br/>
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Gena Blackwood, Yoga Teacher and Personal Trainer, SoulCycle Rider

What makes SoulCycle different than the actual spin class?
"The number one thing here is the energy; everyone wants to be here."

Have you noticed a physical difference?
"I have. I am a yoga teacher and personal trainer, and I do a lot of running. So, definitely my stamina has gotten better, I'm stronger…and hungrier."

What do you say to people who call it a cult-like mentality?
"Well, I'm in another cult, as well, so not a big deal... No, I don't know, I mean, you never know until you try it. A lot of my friends are teachers and personal trainers. They say it's trendy, it's the hottest new thing, etc., but then I bring them to their first class, and then they're totally hooked. I think that the people who call it a cult are maybe looking for an excuse not to come or not to work. And that's okay. You gotta do what works for you."

What are you hoping to gain from SoulCycle?
"Honestly, every day is more of a meditation than anything else. I'm not looking to change my life so much, but I'm looking for a place I get to set up my day with."

Do you dress up for spin class?
"No, totally not. I usually roll in here in hopefully clean clothes."

Are there any soul cycle no-nos?
"If there are, I'm probably doing them all! I try not to bump my sweaty body into anyone. That would be a no-no for me."

SoulCycle tank-top, Nike pants.

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Sarah Siciliano, VP/Director of Business Development for 321Launch, Founder of, SoulCycle Rider

What makes SoulCycle different than the average spin class?
"There's sort of an element of therapy behind it. It's a soulful approach that's really about mind and body rather than just a workout."

What are you hoping to gain?
"I've been spinning for like six years, or something — since the beginning. I gain a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment from the workout that helps me set the tone of the day."

Have you noticed a change since you first started?
"A long time ago? Yeah, it's more of a change in terms of my energy and attitude. Physically, it's a great cardio workout, but it gives me the happiness and the energy to last throughout the day."

What do you say to people who call it a cult mentality?
"I'd say it absolutely is a cult, and tell then to jump on board! I think the cult-like aspect of it is that it's a serotonin-booster. And that's what brings you back, wanting that feeling again."

Are there any SoulCycle no-nos?

"I would say coming late for class."

What keeps you coming back?
"The sense of community, accomplishment, and mostly because of how you feel when you leave."

SoulCycle apparel.

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The quiet before the storm.

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Ariel Buckley, Sales Associate for JBrand, SoulCycle Rider

What makes SoulCycle different than the average spin class?
"I would say, first of all, it's the community here. It's like a family in here. When you're in the room, that energy just doesn't compare to anywhere else. The instructors are all so cool, you fall in love with every one of them."

How long have you been doing it?
"I've been at SouCycle religiously for a year and a half."

How many classes do you take a week?
"Four to five."

Have you noticed a change in your body?
"Completely. It completely changed my body. When I was younger, I used to work out. I was always running or at the gym, but I never really saw a change until SoulCycle. Because you love doing it — when you're doing something positive, you get positive results."

What are you hoping to gain from SoulCycle?
"What I'm supposed to gain, I do gain. It's literally 45 minutes, and 45 minutes of my time and my time only. So, it definitely keeps me grounded. I can walk into class with the weight of the world on my shoulders and walk out feeling completely light and cleansed. It just makes me feel strong inside and out."

What's the maximum you'd pay for a SoulCycle class?
"I'd say $55."

Have you ever gone biking outside?
"Yes, I have. That's nice and peaceful, and that's definitely not what goes on inside that room."

What keeps you coming back?
"Just the feeling I have coming before class, the friends I've made here, and the instructors. The instructors are so amazing, and I feel like every time I take a class, I change because of them. I just love it so much, it's made me a better person."

SoulCycle tank-top, Nike pants, Light by Sky jewelry.

Photographed by CJ Isaac
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Danny Kopel, SoulCycle Instructor, Editor of

What are the benefits of SoulCycling?
"Well, SoulCycling is a miracle in NYC. It's a workout and it's an exorcism. It's a full-body workout with a strong mind component, as well."

And physically, what muscles do you target?
"We are a full-body workout. You can see your whole body transform. But we do an arm series, as well, so you can open your arms. All of our coaching and all of our movements originate from the core, so you can expect change in there, as well."

What are some songs on your pump-up playlist?
"I love David Guetta and Afrojack, that's the current favorite. I've been bumping a fantastic remix of Bjork's 'Army of Me' that's on the Tank Girl soundtrack. An old favorite would be N.E.R.D's 'Hot and Fun'.

What is your motivational motto?
"Take a breath and take a chance."

Why do you think people come to you, specifically?
"I think that (and this comes from my personal experience in exercise) I try to keep a joyful connection with movement. I try to convey that to my riders in hopes that they'll find it a joyful experience. It could be a torturous workout or it could be a dance party."

What is your ideal reaction from your clients?
"I love a 'woo!'"

What's the craziest fanatic story you've experienced?
"Last week, someone asked me to sign their shirt. Sometimes, people will ask to take pictures with me."

What do you say to people who call it a cult mentality?
"I think that there's a fine line between cult and community. And a community is something that we definitely are. What I said before about unlocking the joy movement — once you make the connection and you find something that you really love in a form of exercise, then you can really hang on to it. Then there's something that keeps you coming back over and over. I see why people get hooked and why they'd call it a cult."

Do you ever not feel like working out?
"No. It's actually my day off today and I thought I'd come in. I'm always so glad to do it, it's such a treat."

Do you think it's overpriced?
"I believe not."

Comme des Garçons shirt, Selima Optique glasses.

Photographed by CJ Isaac
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Lauren Brooker, SoulCycle Instructor

What are the benefits of SoulCycling?
"The benefits are having a phenomenal body just from cycling a few times a week. And also the time to give yourself five minutes, chill out, let your mind be free, and really have fun!"

What's your signature move?
"My signature move would be the shake weight."

What is your motivation motto?
"My motivational motto: You come in here to just have fun and there doesn't have to be so much pressure. Keep it simple."

What motivates you during class?
"If I see someone head-banging or fist-pumping, I think, 'Great idea! Let's fist-pump!'"

What songs are on your playlist?
"Black-Eyed Peas, all of Kanye West, and anything Drake."

What makes SoulCycle different than the average spin class?
"I think it's not just a spin class. It's a production. You have to like the sound. Everyone's working together to put on a show."

What's the craziest fanatic story you've experienced?
"Someone came out the other day from Long Island and she asked to get a picture with me after class. She was going to show it to all of her family."

What's the best reaction you can have from your clients?
"I just want them to come up to me and say, 'I really look forward to your class every day.' And that's it, that's all. If SoulCycle is the highlight of their day, then great, I'm doing something right."

What muscles specifically do you use during a workout?

What do you say to people who call it a cult mentality?
"I think it is a cult mentality. But there's no negative connotation to cults. I mean, it's a place for people to all have fun together. I think it's a positive thing."

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Marika Wagle, General Merchandise Manager, Jimmy Choo, SoulCycle Rider

How many days a week do you SoulCycle?
"Six or seven."

Have you noticed a change in your body?
"A thousand percent. I have muscles I never knew I had. It totally changed the shape of my body. I'm probably in the best shape of my life."

What makes SoulCycle different than the average spin class?
"I always tell people it's like a dance party on a bike. It's so much fun! It's the only thing I look forward to at the end of the day. The music and instructors are really cool."

What are you hoping to gain from SoulCycle?
"I already have gained some good friends, it's like my therapy — I don't have to go to therapy. It keeps my fitness level up."

What do you say to people who call it a cult mentality?
"I would say try it because even if it is a cult mentality, you really get in amazing shape and it's a lot of fun."

Are their SoulCycle no-nos?
"I think the biggest no-no for me and for everybody is talking in class. You wouldn't be part of the team mentality."

Have you ever gone biking outside?

Finish the sentence. My instructor is like my...
"My therapist."

Photographed by CJ Isaac
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SoulCycle apparel, available at every location.

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A group of very dedicated (and fit!) SoulCyclers.

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