The benefits of exercise are undeniable. We might start an exercise program to lose weight, tone up or get in shape for a special event, only to find we end up getting much more in return: Lower stress levels, improved sex life, a boost in energy and moods and better bone and muscle health, to name a few of the benefits.
Sure, you can get buff in a number of different ways, but what about exercising your spiritual side, in something more cardio-focused than yoga? If you’ve struggled to find some form of exercise that feels like the right fit, you may want to consider SoulCycle, started in 2006 by two entrepreneurial moms with one studio (at a sometime funeral home) in New York City. Since then, SoulCycle’s 45-minute, candlelit classes with killer playlists and coaches who push you to get your best workout have expanded to 88 locations across the United States and Canada with a cultish following that is said to include Kelly Ripa, Brooke Shields, Anderson Cooper, and Chelsea Clinton. Could SoulCycle be just a passing trend? Maybe, but this many years later, you still need to make a reservation for nearly any class—ride-ins take heed.
Cycling on its own has some unique plusses: It’s non-impact, making it kinder to your joints; you get a great cardio workout; it builds muscle; it helps with balance and endurance, and it improves your bones. But SoulCycle has extra advantages over your regular spin class—it works out the entire body by pedaling, dancing and using light hand weights. It’s also designed so that you can work at your own level, even if you’re just beginning. You do, however, need cycling shoes (which you can rent), and the hard seat takes some getting used to (this can be remedied by wearing padded bike shorts or adding a cushioned gel seat). You can buy classes online at $20 for the first one and $28 for a single class after that. You’ll save money by buying packages of three classes or more, up to 50 for a cool $3,500.
One SoulCycle devotee is Kelley Kitley, a Chicago-area licensed clinical social worker and mental health expert. She says the workout is not only good for your body but also—naturally—your soul, à la The Secret. “Instructors guide you to set an intention and check in with yourself and identify what you need to let go of, or what you need to attract,” she says. One added benefit over outdoor cycling, she notes: You can’t dance on a regular bike without falling.