Mary Dell writes: In the realm of athletics I am a dud, both coordination and motivation-challenged. When I attended BlogHer’12 this summer and heard Katie Couric describe herself as “lazy” (regarding exercise) yet willing to ride a stationary bike in a spinning class, I began to wonder if this might be a good workout for me since I’m a little lazy, too.
As if the gym gods were sending me a message, I picked up More magazine’s September issue and found an article on spinning inside. I read about SoulCycle, a small but growing chain of spinning studios that happen to be Katie’s choice. Founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler created their company in 2006. “Spinning a business out of nothing,” they entered into a strategic partnership with the Equinox sports-club company and expect to increase their studio count to 50-60 locations by 2015. Along the way they created fresh-pressed juices and designed workout clothing. They also raise $500,000 for charity, every year. Both moms, Rice and Cutler are successfully expanding their business and creating jobs as they grow. What’s not to admire? (Actually, only the price, at $32 per class keeps my enthusiasm in check.)
I clicked on their website and discovered that a studio had opened close to my suburban house 20 minutes away. How many more signs did I need to try a spinning class?
Still, I was reluctant. I had to face my fear that I might be the lone ugly (and older) duckling in a room of spandex swans.
The feeling of walking into a gym where everyone seems to be fit already, not to mention younger, is not a happy one. Despite Katie’s enthusiasm, I wondered if I could believe the SoulCycle mission was for me:
Take your journey. Change your body. Find your soul.
Or If I would be able to find my way in their studio:
By keeping the lights low and riding by candlelight, SoulCycle creates a cardio sanctuary where riders can come to clear their heads.
The celebrities, the press accolades, the glamorous locations (NYC, LA, Hamptons)….would I feel self-conscious and out-of-place? I wondered if it was possible to fall off my bike or embarrass myself in any other way.
Fortunately, after attending one class, I understand why Katie gave it thumbs up with her incredibly toned arms. Here is what I discovered about working out at SoulCycle:
1. Felt like I belonged – I was not alone in age, gender or apparent fitness level.
2. Tailored to my ability – a twist of the knob, changing resistance levels on the bike, kept me going at a pace I could endure.
3. Friendly staff – They made a bit of a fuss over the “new riders” in the class, adjusting our bikes and shoes before we began.
4. Organized – using an airplane-type seat assignment reservation system, you choose your class and bike, reducing chaos in the crowded room.
5. Boredom prevention – it is relatively easy to stay motivated for the 45 minute class.
6. No prerequisites – there is no call for eye-hand coordination or knowledge of dance steps.
7. Upper body workout – hand weights attached to the back of the bike are used during the last section of the class making for an efficient attack on kimono arms.
8. It is fun – has to be or the probability of my returning is zero.
As the class winds down, I realize that in addition to getting a good, sweaty cardio workout, I was reminded of a younger me, when exercising in a darkened room, music at full blast, meant a lively night of dancing. Did I find my soul? Not sure about that but I can’t wait to go time traveling at SoulCycle again.