If you've never taken a SoulCycle class, you're in for a treat. For starters, forget what you know about Spin or any other indoor cycling class. This full-body workout will leave you breathless and have you booking your next class the minute your first one ends. Expect high-intensity intervals, hill climbs, and even weight work, but our guess is that this won't be the main reason you'll be back. As SoulCycle instructor Jenny Gaither told us, "We work hard and we party hard on the bike. Every class begins with a spiritual journey, eventually building into a full-blown cardio dance party." And while it might be a party, it's not one you should go into unprepared.
Like any intense workout, it's important that you're properly fueled before and after you exercise. Choose light and lean carbs at least one to two hours before class; this will give your body time to digest before getting up on the bike. Jenny's favorite? Oatmeal with a little peanut butter and half a banana. If you're headed into an evening workout, keep it light with a green juice, a hard-boiled egg, or an apple, she says. Make sure to bring a water bottle to class to stay hydrated, and once it's over, feed worked muscles with ample protein and complex carbs.
Dress the part
Be ready to sweat — a lot. To keep things as cool as possible, opt for moisture-wicking capris and tank tops, and don't forget the headband! While black is the basic fallback for gymwear, the vibe at SoulCycle is more in your face. Expect to see lots of patterns and neon. "Bright, colorful, and bold gear is the way to go," says Jenny. You'll also need cycling-specific shoes for class (SPD or Look compatible), but if you don't own a pair, they're available for rent at SoulCycle.
It's all about attitude
Besides burning calories, be prepared for a mental workout. SoulCycle instructors push the class along with affirmations and challenging questions, all set to the backdrop of inspiring, heart-pumping music. It's not unusual to be asked to close your eyes, cycle through a class by candlelight, or hear SoulCycle devotees (aka your classmates) cheering. Our best advice is to have an open mind and let the teacher take you along for the ride. "SoulCycle is a spiritual journey guided by a leader and their music. The intention is to challenge [individuals] to push their limits while helping them discover a passion for fitness through dance parties on the bike," says Jenny. And while it does sound corny, it's something everyone should experience. You'll walk out a happier person; trust us.
See the two most important tips for taking a SoulCycle class after the break!