SoulCycle, the NYC-based spin studio with a celebrity following has opened in Yaletown! Taking over the former Westcoast Hot Yoga space, the beautiful new studio is located at 1122 Mainland Street and features a 53-bike studio to host its signature SoulCycle cardio workout.
The lobby of the studio is bright, white, and minimalistic with highlights of the SoulCycle yellow branding. There is a small boutique at the front where you can buy SoulCycle branded apparel and other lifestyle products, and a front desk counter for registration. When we signed in at the front desk, the reception staff were efficient and informative, and helped us pick the “best” spots for our first ride. This is also where you pick up your mandatory footwear rental – special cycling shoes that clip into the pedals of your bike. Clipping in provides a more stable, safer ride and also allows SoulCycle riders to target the correct muscle groups. They are free for your first cycle but $3.50 to rent every time after that.
White lockers with an electronic passcode (no need to bring your own lock) are located along one side of the wall to store your bag, phone, and footwear. The locker rooms at SoulCycle in Yaletown are currently stocked with soaps and lotions by Vancouver’s Saje Wellness. They even have disposable razors and hair elastics for your use. The bright and clean environment of the studio makes you feel like you are getting a premium experience – like you’re at a spa, not a gym.
Similar to many modern day fitness studios, SoulCycle has an app where you can check the availability of classes online, see who the instructor is, and book straight from your phone. Unlike other fitness class booking apps, you can actually reserve a specific bike in the studio. If you are a walk-in client, you can register for a class up to 30 minutes before the session begins. Naturally, the centre bikes get filled up first, but the studio is small and intimate enough that any seat would give you a good view of the instructor who is biking from an elevated platform.
At the beginning of our class, one of the SoulCycle staff members made sure our bikes were adjusted and showed us how to clip in and out of our special footwear. Most people began with a warm up pedal as soon as they were clipped in while waiting for the class to start.
Contrasting the stark whiteness and openness of the lobby of the studio, the cycle room is dim. With the exception of the candles lighting the instructor’s station at the front, SoulCycle spin classes take place in the dark.
The class playlist had a mix of dance and hip hop. Every instructor has their own playlists. The purpose of spin is to keep in time with the music, peddling with your feet to the beat. In the class I took, most of the class was up off the seat of the bike – like you’re cycling while standing up.
If you’re peddling at a regular rhythm, you will naturally begin to sway side to side to the beat of the music. If the entire class is going at the same pace, every cyclist in the room will be shifting left and right (or sometimes up and down) which makes for a super cool synchronized pack ride. There is a resistance knob on the bike that you are in control of. Songs with a faster beat encourage faster cycles, while songs with a slower beat, you typically turn up the resistance and bike like you’re grinding uphill – slow, strong and steady, but always to the beat. Mirrors line the front of the room, and you are able to see the shadows of your class peddling in unison to the beat of the music.
Through a headset microphone, the instructor will let you know when to turn up the resistance, and shout out words of motivation or encouragement.
Although you’re cycling in a pack of riders, the workout is really personal. You control your pace and resistance. But I think the appeal of spinning in a group, rather than biking on your own, is the sense of community, like you’re at this cool party with a common goal of being synchronized in your motions.
Music is a huge part of SoulCycle classes. SoulCycle riders can suggest their favourite artists at the front desk throughout the month of August, and beginning in September, the Yaletown studio will launch themed rides with your favourite DJs, artists or style of music.
Near the end of the class, 2-pound weights are incorporated into the workout to help tone your upper body muscles. Punching motions, criss-crossing your arms in front of you, and bicep curls, help with giving definition to your arms and shoulders.
The opening of SoulCycle in Yaletown is part of a Canadian expansion plan. Two studios recently opened in Toronto, and the third was in Vancouver, and we hope to see this experience pop up in even more cities across Canada!
For those of you who are interested in attending SoulCycle, they have a new client special of $20 for your first ride and complimentary footwear rentals, and then you can move onto a SOUL Starter pack of 3 classes for $75. For more information, check out the Yaletown studio at: 1128 Mainland St., or online at soul-cycle.com.
Photography Credit: Britney Gill Photography