workout review: soulcycle + cyclebar


One of the little series I'm going to do as part of Wellness Wednesday is workout reviews. I've been to a good amount of group workout classes and have done even more at home using online resources, so I want to share my experience with you guys to help you pick which classes you want to add to your routine or just try out for fun!

I'm starting with the two versions of indoor cycling that I've tried: the iconic SoulCycle and a similar class called CycleBar which is found in more locations.

overview of workout
SoulCycle - The class is held in a dimly lit room with a loud, energized soundtrack that's different with each class. Sometimes, there are even special themed rides (i.e. Taylor Swift, Hamilton). Upon arrival, you get signed in and rent your cycling shoes if you don't have your own. There are lockers in the lobby for you to store your things (especially your phone). 

When you initially enter the classroom, you want to go ahead and get clipped into the your bike. If you need help with this, don't hesitate to ask because the instructors are more than happy to get you clipped in and adjust the bike height for your body. Once you're clipped in, you'll want to start pedaling to get warmed up.

Each class varies, but typically you'll go through different resistance levels and positions (standing, sitting, and the signature 'tap it back') for the majority of the class. Toward the end, there's a seated arms portion where you used hand weights. 

Classes regularly cost $34.

CycleBar - This workout is pretty similar in nature to SoulCycle but there are a couple of differences. The vibe is the same, with a dark room and fun music.

The big difference is that CycleBar has video monitors in the front of the room that show how your performance ranks in the class. This is really great for someone like me who is fairly competitive because it really makes me want to perform better. If I look up and see that I'm near the end of the pack, I'm really motivated to step it up. If you're new to cycling and are feeling less confident or if competitiveness isn't something you enjoy, keep that in mind and maybe select a different class.

The other difference is that I don't believe CycleBar has a weights portion. It's all cycling, the entire time. Aside from those two differences, these classes are interchangeable and I love them both!

Classes regularly cost $18 and you can get a free intro ride.

what it's actually like
Challenging but really fun! The first time I did SoulCycle, my lungs were on fire after the first five minutes. I was not at all new to fitness and worked out a lot at the time, but it was still really challenging. Those first five minutes honestly felt like I was going to die! Haha. But then, I got into a groove and the rest of the class was super fun and invigorating. I remember leaving class and being able to breathe so well! The fresh air felt amazing on my lungs. My friend and I went to dinner afterwards, had healthy salads, then ran up multiple flights of stairs to our hotel rooms (we were living in a hotel during an internship). 

So yeah, I won't lie and say it isn't hard. It is challenging and at some parts, unpleasant. But the music and energy of the instructors make it so much fun. Plus, you'll feel amazing afterwards.

what to wear
I recommend moisture-wicking, cropped leggings. Bike shorts work too, although I think cropped leggings to be more comfortable. Definitely avoid any long, flowing yoga pants. Pair your leggings/shorts with a tank top because you're going to sweat! 

what to bring
A headband to keep hair out of your face. A full water bottle to stay hydrated. Your own clip-in shoes if you have them. A hand towel just in case your studio doesn't provide one.