Indoor-cycling classes, or spinning, are proliferating, not just at health clubs, but at stand-alone studios equipped with shiny new bikes and freshly minted instructors that offer a high-energy workout in a space that feels like anything but a gym.
SoulCycle, which opened its first San Francisco studio on Union Street over the summer, is one of the country’s most popular indoor cycling chains. Founded in 2006 by Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice with its first location in New York City, SoulCycle has a devout following nationwide including San Francisco. Billed as the country’s premier, full-body indoor cycling workout, SoulCycle combines gung-ho coaches, specially mixed music, and classes held in candlelit studios. Rather than simply focusing on biking — which mostly works the lower half of the body — SoulCycle’s 45-minute classes incorporate hand weights and core-engaging choreography providing a total-body workout.
According to the company, riders burn 500 to 700 calories per class. Enthusiasts range from professional athletes and fitness addicts who take the classes to complement their training schedules to casual riders looking for a relatively quick and easy way to pump up their cardio workouts. Riders are encouraged to bring their own water and bike shoes — you must use toe clips on the bikes. First-time riders can borrow shoes free, and rental shoes are $3.
While SoulCycle’s classes tend to be jam packed, with more than 40 riders sweating away on bikes placed super-close together, the relatively dark room fosters a certain anonymity, and the instructors, (aka coaches) and upbeat music provide a party-like vibe. SoulCycle offers classes from 7 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. most days with differing levels of intensity. A first-time ride is $20; after that a single class is $34; class passes range from $165 for five classes, which expires in 54 days, to $780 for 30 classes;, expiring in 12 months. A “SuperSoul” 50-class pass for $3,500 allows riders to reserve spots ahead of sign-ups and gives waiting-list priority. There will be a second San Francisco location opening soon.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive cycling workout, you may want to dust off the old Schwinn, but if you want an inspirational, cool, of-the-moment spinning experience, head on over the SoulCycle.
SoulCycle: 2095 Union Street, 415-695-7685, soul-cycle.com