I remember my first SoulCycle class better than my first kiss. It was a turning point after which I compared every spin class from that day forward, and Soul became the gold standard of cycling in my mind. When pre-orders of SoulCycle’s at-home bike launched amid social distancing and the imminent COVID-19 quarantine, I couldn’t have put down the deposit fast enough. I’ve been using it for two weeks now and here is my honest review of SoulCycle’s at-home bike:
The SoulCycle bike will run you a hefty $2,500. That includes shipping, white glove delivery, the screen, 5 in-studio SoulCycle classes, and cleats (you’ll need your own shoes, these are my favorite). Owners will also have to pay $40 a month for the Variis app to stream on-demand classes (it’s currently free for Equinox members since the gyms are closed, and a single in-studio SoulCycle class is $36). The app, which is owned by Equinox group, gets you unlimited access to tons of other workouts including yoga, HIIT, Precision Run and more. Not only does this app make it easy to work out anywhere, but if you’re traveling and have a stationary bike in your hotel gym, you can stream a SoulCycle class via tablet or phone.
The touch screen allows you to set your music preferences for each user, and to view the playlist of each class before you choose one. This is my favorite feature, paired with the fact that the classes are on demand and I can take them at any time. Classes are 30 minutes or 45 minutes, and I love having the option. So far, SoulCycle has not announced plans to stream live classes (like competitor Peloton), but I personally prefer having new on-demand classes every week. You can listen to the music through the speakers on the screen or pair the music with Bluetooth headphones. Being able to take a class whenever I want and listen to it through my headphones makes it possible for me to fit a workout in before my kids wake up for the day. I also feel that listening to the classes through headphones creates a more immersive experience.
The screen also shows you your beat match, RPM’s (power output), distance, and calories burned. While it is not quite the same sensory and community experience of vibing with a live SoulCycle in-studio class, most of the instructors are motivating and fun and keep you dancing on the bike. I’m loving Claire J and Mike Press (he needs more classes, Variis!). I like that the screen alternates to show you other riders taking the class along with you, and a side view of a “form model” to help you keep your stance and pace in check. Most importantly, I always finish a class feeling euphoric and drenched in sweat.
I did have my ride interrupted a couple of times for the system to install updates, but the last time it happened I was asked if I wanted to set the system to automatically updated at night and it hasn’t happened since. Other than that, I haven’t experienced any glitches.
The SoulCycle bike is safe (socially distant), convenient, fun, and hands down the best at-home workout I’ve experienced. The cons: it’s expensive, and it’s not the same as an in-studio SoulCycle class. Something tells me that has more to do with our craving for community and social interaction. If not, you could always turn the dimmer down and light a grapefruit scented candle. One of those comes with the add-on package of shoes, a mat, a water bottle, and a chunk of crystal for $250. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, I still love it.