Hello everyone, it's Steve here, and every once in a while, I, too, get to go out and catch a fun fitness class. Our recent trip to NYC gave me just that chance. It didn’t all start out the way I had planned- the kids and I were in the midst of passing around a fun stomach bug, but I was not going to miss out on a chance to take a SoulCycle class with my friend, Isaac Calpito. But I was on the comeback trail, so I decided to give it a go. And I am so glad I did.
A little background on Isaac. We sat next to each other for 2.5 years in the dressing room at Mamma Mia, so we knew each other very well. He has had a very successful career on- and off-Broadway, but for the last few years, fitness has been his focus. Now back in the day, I took him and another colleague of ours through a week of lifting routines at Isaac’s gym, so taking class from him was a bit like coming full circle. Plus, at Isaac’s gym, I got to play a game of basketball on the same team as Adam Sandler, but that’s not the story I am trying to tell right now…
Walking into Isaac’s class, I knew a couple of things upfront: 1) this was going to be a dramatic class, with great music and humorous rhetoric; 2) I was going to be working my tail off; and 3) I was going to be called Daddy Morgan. And all of my expectations were met and exceeded! There were also a number of other first time riders, which helped to ease my nerves from the onset.
So how does this differ from a normal indoor cycling class? It begins with the atmosphere: when you walk in, the lights are dim, almost setting the mood of a club (I was feeling this even more at a 7:30 pm class!). The music is incredibly progressive and stylized, and the instructor has the freedom to structure the playlist to fit the ride. Also, the lighting controls are at the ready for the instructor to change things dramatically throughout the ride, and Isaac utilized them to help motivate the riders through the most aggressive parts of our ride. With this kind of variety, the ride really flew by.
Also, there are weights involved. When I walked in, I saw the weights on the back of the bike; there were 1-lb. and 2-lb. options. They also provide 3 and 5 lb weight options. Being the macho man that I am, I opted for the 2-lb. dumbbells (very He-man, right?). After we had done what felt like a million shoulder, back, bicep, punch, etc. repetitions, I was very much second-guessing that decision. This is an aspect of the workout that I always miss with a regular cycling class. I regularly leave them feeling a great burn in the legs, but wanting my upper body to have received more attention. Plus, who has time (or energy!) to take a 45 minute class plus do an upper body workout. Walking out of SoulCycle, I knew my entire body had been hit, and that’s a great feeling.
Finally, a big difference is that music factor I mentioned earlier. I like to think of myself as at least a little bit musical, so the fact that the instruction fits so well with the music and lighting (dare I call it a production?) is a big turn on for me. Have you ever had an instructor who just couldn’t feel the music, and you would end up doing a big “push” two measures after the music really picks up? That is the worst! SoulCycle instructors, particularly a former dancer like Isaac, are always using the music as a driver in the workout. You don’t have to be a dancer (just call me Exhibit A!), but it feels so much more natural to move in tandem with the music, and that really increases my enjoyment of the whole experience.
SoulCycle is a class that I had heard a lot about (including from my wife, who wanted to make sure that I checked out this class first hand-stomach bug be damned!), and the main takeaway was that, even with all of the build-up, it didn’t disappoint. I was also impressed with the number of men and women taking the classes together- so many classes seem to be geared (whether purposefully or not) to one sex, while SoulCycle appeals to both equally. It’s like cycling on steroids, and by immersing me in an experience unlike any of the other bike-centric classes I have taken, this one sets the gold standard, in my humble opinion. Thanks again to Isaac for a great ride!