WCBC

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).

IMG_4812-500x500

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).

Soul-Cycle

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).

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Capture

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?!

Questions:

  • 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?
Advertisements

My Favorite Things About Christmas

Dean Martin Christmas Music

For as long as I can remember, this has been my favorite Christmas album to play on repeat the second Thanksgiving is over. I love every single song on it, especially “A Marshmallow World.” There’s something beautiful about his old-school crooning, and it’s just full of pure, upbeat, happy Christmas tunes. Michael Buble’s Christmas CD comes in close second, but Dean Martin will always be my number one.

MI0000172280

White Christmas

On that note, let’s talk Christmas movies. Of course I love the new ones like Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but nothing will beat White Christmas. It is without a doubt my favorite Christmas movie, and definitely one of my favorite movies of all time. I love popping it into the DVD player and delving into the four characters’ stories. I get sucked in year after year – the music is classic and the dancing is fantastic. It’s a real treasure of a film and I love curling up with hot chocolate to watch it. I’m excited too because I just found out there’s an old music/movie theater a few blocks from my apartment that’s playing White Christmas on the big screen in the weeks leading up to Christmas! How fun! Now to recruit an accomplice…

1024.WhiteChristmas.mh.120412

One of the best scenes from the movie…

Picking Out a Real Tree

My family has always held a firm position that there is no fake tree on the planet that can outshine a real one. My dad *claims* when we were two or three that the family chopped down our own, but sine there’s no photo evidence I have to classify that as legend. Nonetheless every year my dad, brother and I hop in the Highlander and pick out a real, live, pine-smelling, needle-dropping tree. It’s a tradition I hold near and dear and am so happy that I got to do it this year the day before I moved.

10653768_10152454666752233_204431317027420076_n

Decorating With My Family

Speaking of traditions, the four of us always find a few hours to gather around the tree, pull out all our old ornaments, sip eggnog and play the aforementioned Dean Martin. The best part is during “A Marshmallow World” when Dean Sing’s about a “Pumpkin Head” and my dad just bursts out laughing at my unfortunate nickname. We always talk about each ornament, where it came from, and why it’s important. We have ornaments from both my parents’ houses growing up as well as family ornaments we’ve accumulated over the years AND ones specifically for life milestones for Steve and me. It’s fun to remember all those times in little globes of glass.

unnamed (41) IMG_1722

Candy Dishes

Enough said. I’ve already gone through a bag of Hershey kisses and I’m WELL on my way to finishing the other two bags of Dove Chocolates. No regrets.

unnamed (22)

Holiday Parties

I was lucky enough to make the Holiday Party for the Windy City Blogger Collective (WCBC). I just joined now that I’m a resident of 60657 (woo!) and already I know I made a great decision! The holiday party took place at a swanky Gold Coast restaurant called Del Frisco’s. There was coat check (wait I don’t have to find a booth in the corner to hide my coat under?) and even a girl with a guest list – like, a physical, on-a-clipboard, guest list. It took her a few extra seconds to find my name and I thought I for sure wasn’t cool enough to get in. But pretty soon I was clunking around in my heels with a glass of Prosecco in my hand, hob-knobbing with the finest bloggers in the city. (I’ve always wanted a reason to use the verb hob-knob — score!) This night marked an even bigger occasion, though — I FINALLY MET SUSIE! I definitely felt like I was sitting with the cool kids at the lunch table — this girl knows everyone! Not to mention she’s just as goofy and kind as you’d expect. I’ll admit it was a treat to see her many off-the-wall faces in real life and not just in photos. They are legit.

Another surprise was meeting Cara from Fit Busy Female (who has already stolen my future life by marrying a perfect Chicago man and naming their firstborn Addison. Blast.) and Erin from Loop Looks. Both incredible women who I look up to as well. I love meeting people who started in a job they didn’t love but who took initiative to create a unique path for themselves. It was wonderful chatting with everyone!

Ironically enough I’ve never taken worse photos than I did at this event.

unnamed (42)

Snagged myself a pair of the striped socks

unnamed (43)

Shitty photo, great prosecco

unnamed (45)

Unbelievable chandelier

unnamed (46)

Mulitple-level wine cellar (*swoon*)

unnamed (47)

Beautiful drinks, complete with berry and flower garnishes. Too bad I don’t like whiskey because these looked fabulous!

unnamed (48)

You know it’s a snazzy affair if casual fire is involved

Aside from those god-awful photos, it was such a warm, welcoming and spirited event. My favorite part was knowing I was surrounded by passionate people. Everyone there has their “thing” — there were fashion bloggers, lifestyle writers, fitness lovers and foodies galore. But everyone there has dedicated time and love to their passion and it’s an energy you can physically feel in a room. Definitely a wonderful first holiday party of the season.

Questions:

  • What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
  • Favorite holiday music/song?
  • Any big plans to host a holiday party this year? Or have you ever been to any crazy-classy parties in the past? Do tell!