SoulCycle Chicago (Studio Review)

I know I know…I still owe you a review of my doughnut-making class. But since I feel like I’ve been sharing nothing but indulgence lately I think it’s time to maybe kinda remind you folks that I kinda sorta workout too. No, I don’t just spend my free time at eating donuts, sampling cheese at farmers markets, and racing to see who can get to the bottom of their margarita fastest (although these are definitely some of my greatest extracurriculars).

A few weeks ago I had the awesome privilege to try out the new SoulCycle studio in Chicago thanks to WCBC. It’s located in the Old Town neighborhood right off Division and Wells (for locals, the closest L stop is the Clark/Division Red Line).


Photo courtesy of Sara, who takes photos at events like a good blogger!

First impression? Paradise. Why? The entire place smells like a grapefruit. I hear they sell the candles that make the whole place feel like you’re swimming in a pool of citrus, but I’m sure they cost $40 a pop. One of these days I’ll splurge…

The grapefruit-coated air perked me up upon entering and I was re-energized for my workout. I attended a 6:30pm class, which is a lot later than I like to exercise in the day. I’m usually sluggish by that point and more often than not, I’ll end up bailing (especially if I’m working out alone). I appreciated walking in to such a friendly lobby with such an energized feel to it (meeting up with Susie, Erin, Erica and Sara added to the energy as well).


The lobby was clean, bright, and welcoming. I know it may seem insignificant but walking into a studio that is floor-to-ceiling glossy white with bright yellow accents literally brightened my eyes and gave me a boost of energy before I even had my cycle shoes on. Before you head into the studio, there is a common area for you to change into your shoes and place your belongings into lockers. The lockers don’t require locks (one of my favorite parts about any gym), but instead a four-digit code to open and close. They weren’t overly large lockers, but then again most people don’t carry a bag the size of a toddler like I do. I peeked inside the bathroom/changing area and saw a wall full of mirrors ready to accommodate the dozens of women I’m sure get ready for work here in the morning. I didn’t see them myself but I know the facility has showers as well, which is another huge plus.

The studio itself contains 51 bikes, with the instructor’s bike on a platform so everyone has a good view. It isn’t stadium seating like other studios have, but I actually liked this layout better. It emphasized camaraderie and teamwork. Everything about the workout screamed “We’re all in this together!”

As for the workout itself, I came in having a lot to compare to. I’ve done spin classes for years, from the YMCA to XSport and all the way up to Flywheel which is where I’ve been regularly attending since I moved to Chicago. So how does SoulCycle compare to any other spin class I’ve been to?

The Workout

  • 45-minute classes, including hand weights (very light, 1 and 2 pound weights) and other choreography such as core movements and push-ups
  • Riders typically burn between 500-700 calories (obviously this number depends on a variety of factors. This is just an estimate).


  • Class is spent mostly in third position. It truly felt like a workout from start to finish.
  • Staff members are in the room before class ready to help any newbies get situated on their bikes
  • The music is bumping! It was current and I loved every song they played. They also do specific rides with specific types of music (think Britney Spears or Red Hot Chili Peppers rides) which is freaking awesome. One time I woke up at 7am on a Saturday for a spin class and walked into 60min of 80s pop. I wanted to rip my hair out. This eliminates that from ever happening again!
  • The room does not go completely dark, but is instead is accented by fake candles. I liked the ambiance. It felt like a cardio workout in a yoga environment. Yes please.
  • The instructor was incredibly passionate about being there. Nothing better than an instructor who is full to the brim with passion for what they’re doing!
  • The facilities are gorgeous. Crisp, clean, white walls accented by bright yellow motivational sayings displayed at every turn made it feel like a very high-end experience.
  • You can go on their website and really get to know the instructors, listen to music that has been featured in classes, read blog posts, etc. I love when studios are up-to-date with technology and social media.


  • This can be a pro or a con, but there wasn’t any competition. No monitors, no way to know exactly how much torque to add (“turn your knob up three times” “turn your knob down a quarter turn” etc. etc. can get confusing and I felt like I might have been off for a bit). I appreciate numbers when I work out, so this was challenging for me.
  • I know that the point of SoulCycle is to be spiritual (it has its name for a reason), but at points I felt uncomfortable with it. Now, I know this is what some people look for. I can definitely tell this workout attracts the “I’m spiritual, not religious” crowd. And I’m all for having beautiful, meaningful experiences when I’m connecting my mind and body. I mean, sure, throw some spirit in there too. But I prefer my spiritual moments during exercise to be organic, and at points it felt forced. There were times when I felt like I should have been having a moving experience based on what the instructor was saying (there were a lot of mantras and motivational sayings being yelled out), but I wasn’t. Knowing me, I was probably resisting because I don’t like people telling me what to do or how to feel (#rebel). That kind of environment definitely isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it’s worth noting that that’s a HUGE part of what SoulCycle is.
  • You knew this was coming: the cost. Let’s not mince words here. Attending SoulCycle regularly is a status symbol, and for good reason. You pay to be part of a dedicated fitness community. You pay for support, accountability, wonderful facilities (showers, water, shoes, THE GRAPEFRUIT AIR, etc.). But as with any studio, it is quite an expensive habit. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that allows me to explore studios like this. Not unlimited, but enough that I get to try things out and decide what’s worth it and what isn’t. If I had to pay the drop-in fee, I would probably attend SoulCycle once a month, with friends, before a killer brunch. I would need to make an event out of it. SoulCycle’s pricing is outlined below:
  • d

Overall, I liked my experience! I didn’t fall head-over heels in love with it but I liked it enough that I will probably go back every now and then. Many of our educators at lululemon work there now as well so it will be easy to get a group to go and support our team. I love when workouts aren’t just an hour of sweating but instead are places of gathering for our fitness community. And SoulCycle definitely knows how to maintain a supportive community.

Like I said, I had fun attending with friends so I can definitely see this being a monthly girls get-together where you get sweaty at SoulCycle, hit the showers, and then spend the afternoon at brunch mimosa-ing all the calories you burned and reveling in the positive attitude you leave there with.


If I had to sum up SoulCycle in one phrase, it would be: “You never know until you try!” Go in, and see if you get hooked! I know many, many people do!

……now does anyone seriously know how to get my hands on one of those candles?

Fun Fact: 10,000 riders take SoulCycle classes every day

Say what?!


  • Have you ever been to SoulCycle? If not, would you want to try it out?
  • What’s the most you’ll pay for an exercise class (drop-in fee) or gym membership?
  • Is exercise spiritual for you?


  1. Sounds like a fun class to try out, but the price tag would definitely get me. It was fun to try some studios through class pass, but I just don’t see myself paying that kind of money for a single class when I already pay a gym membership. I will say that those stand alone spin studios seem really nice! I tried one in Baltimore through class pass and it was way nicer than any spin class Ive taken in my gym.

    1. Classpass is amazing — I am so with you. I feel like I have my own version of Classpass through lululemon because they let me try things out in the city, but yeah, I’m not going to financially commit to crazy price tags like that. Who knows, maybe SoulCycle will be on Classpass one day (lol jokes)

  2. It wasn’t my thing, but I want to take from a different instructor. I thought our guy was a bit of an ass, and as someone in a boot, I just can’t hear someone talk about if it doesn’t hurt it doesn’t change you and find them respectable! Also, what a clusterf*** in the changing area after!

    1. Yeah I just edited the post to say “I liked it, but I didn’t love it.” I wasn’t being authentic saying I really liked it haha. I think I really liked it because YOU all were there. I’ll have to go back and try again to see if it was maybe just that particular instructor.

  3. I actually learned a lot about your review. I know this might sound naive, but despite the name, I never realized that Soulcycle tapped into the spiritual side of things. I would probably be a lot like you on that. I’m all for getting in tune with my body, but I don’t like overly dramatized spiritual moments. Just not for me. When I workout, just give me some Maroon5 and let me go! haha

  4. I would love to try this! I have loved spin in the past and i adore yoga so maybe this would totally float my boat 🙂 yoga is spiritual for me but I definitely wouldn’t like it to feel forced! Running can be spiritual for me at times but usually it’s more of a practical pounding of the pavement until I collapse in a sweaty heap 🙂 too much info for a first comment? 🙂

  5. Maybe I just live in a narrow-minded world due to my career/income, but I cannot FATHOM being able to attend SoulCycle regularly. Seriously, how do people have THAT much money to spend on one workout?! I’ll fully admit that the price of running can get high if you add in everything, but I bet I spend $1,000 max for everything in the entire year (unless I’m in PT, that is :P), and that wouldn’t even buy you two months worth of SoulCycle classes if you went every day! Even if you went every other day, it still wouldn’t get your four months. I did a couple spin classes when I did ClassPass, and I just don’t particularly enjoy spinning, so I can’t imagine that I’d have that great of a time at SoulCycle — not to mention my least favorite studios are the ones with an air of pretension and/or pretentious clientele, and at $30 a pop, not to mention SoulCycle’s ~trendy~ reputation and all of that, I’ve got to imagine not everyone there is totally down to earth and normal hahaha. Different strokes for different folks and all that, I suppose.

    1. I can only speak to my experience, of course, so I liked the people I was spinning with (other bloggers!). I really and truly can’t imagine having so much money that I feel comfortable spending that much on one workout either. But I guess if you a) have money b) like consistency and c) want to be part of the “in” crowd, it’s worth it. It’s the same reason people spend $10 on a pound of chicken when they could just walk in to Walmart and pay $5. Everyone has their own threshold of what a normal amount of money to spend is. I love the comparison to running — so true! You spend a lot of money on running, but THIS kind of money puts all that spending into perspective haha.

  6. Great review Lauren! You covered everything – glad you added the grapefruit smell 🙂 I went to another class after this one and liked it a lot more. It was a Lulu instructor too – Kellan. He was great! I think your experience can way heavily on the instructor.

  7. I am obsessed with SoulCycle! I have no idea why, maybe it’s because its non-running cardio, or potentially because it’s usually the only weights I do every week (shameful), but I just love the atmosphere. I totally agree with you – some classes are little too “spiritual” for me. I’ve had an instructor start Ohm’ing and I was like “wait… is this yoga?”. Other instructors tend to go all out and focus more on getting a killer work out and save the spirituality for the cool down / stretch. I find exercise as more of a stress relief than anything else.

    I admit I do pay the fee for SoulCycle $32 a class here! But I honestly could not justify any more. I wish they offered an unlimited monthly package but I would not want to know what that price tag would be… haha

    1. I fully support paying whatever the cost IF you fall in love with a workout and commit to it (and can afford it of course haha). That being said, can you imagine an unlimited monthly pass to SoulCycle?? Haha it would be in the thousands, right?

      1. I honestly don’t even think I could put a number on it… I mean a pass of 5 is like 165$…. and then Super Soul membership… ABSURD! Haha.

  8. I spent the beginning time freaking out at how much their clothes cost, but I definitely loved the workout. I would go back more regularly if I could afford it since it is the only spinning class I have ever liked! Also, good call on the grapefruit air. It was magical.

  9. This is so fun!! Looks like a blast!! I definitely need to try this!! Also, the fact that there’s no competition is DEF. a pro for me!! Haha, but you’re so right! That can def be a good or bad thing… depending on your personality!!

  10. I had no idea that there was a spiritual component to soul cycle! I haven’t tried soul cycle, but I don’t think I’d like a spiritual aspect as part of a cycling class, plus I’m like you with not liking someone telling me how to feel (#rebel).

    I’m also el cheapo, so there’s NO way on earth I’d ever be able to justify spending $30 on a workout class. Plus, I love the freedom of just lacing up my shoes and leaving for a run whenever it best fits my schedule instead of having to plan my workouts around a gym schedule.

    But that grapefruit scent…I want.

  11. HOLY SMOKES $20 a pop?! That’s almost $0.50 a minute! You are so lucky to get to try it for free. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the workout because I would be thinking about how I couldn’t buy groceries that week (kidding…but seriously). I gotta get some grapefruit air though 😉

  12. I really want to try this! My sister gets to go for free because her company pays for amazing is that? The only thing that puts me off is the price, and the closest one is like an hour from me. I think it would be fun to go for a girls day every once in a while like you said.

  13. I’ve never been to a soulcycle class and I probably won’t ever be able to afford it haha! I’m also like you in that I don’t like people telling me what to do so I’m not sure I could get behind the spiritual part of it either. I definitely love other similar spinning classes though!

  14. Definitely still waiting eagerly to hear about the donuts. HAHA. I find that depending on my mood in general, exercise has had its moments of quenching my spirit. I’ve nearly cried in yoga before, but I was also going through a shitty breakup and it just brought out ALL THE FEELS.

    1. I’ve cried in yoga so many times it’s not even funny. But if someone up front is saying CRY BITCHES….yeah I’m going to do the exact opposite. I like letting my mind and body take over and just go with it. The doughnut review is coming soon, I promise!! 🙂

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