Last November Soul Cycle was running a promotion for Movember, where male first time riders went for free. As you may know from my previous posts I love a good fitness bargain. So while visiting my brother in New York, he and I split the cost of my first time ride and went to Soul Cycle together. I am embarrassed about how much I loved it! I’d heard of the obsessive fans of the latest trend in fitness, and could not believe it was that much better than your average spin class. Needless to say, I was wrong. No other spin class compared to my experience at Soul Cycle.
For anyone who has been to Soul, you know that there is a learning curve. I couldn’t quite keep up and those tap backs just confused me to no end (let’s be real, they still do), but when I got back to DC I started going to Soul 3 or 4 times a week and I absolutely loved it! I wouldn’t say I saw my body transform before my eyes, but I was feeling happier, healthier, and more like my old self before I had a shoulder injury that impaired me from doing the physical activity I was used to.
Fast forward a couple of months when I decided to try Pure Barre for the first time. Again, I had tried other barre classes before at gyms and studios, but the upbeat tempo and hands-on corrections I got at Pure Barre exceeded any class I had taken before. Pure Barre also has a steep learning curve. While after your first class you may feel like you got a great workout, it definitely takes a few classes, a few weeks, even a few months to really understand how to perfect each move to get your best workout.
For months I couldn’t believe that my friends from Pure Barre would run out of class to go take a Soul Cycle class right after. My thighs were too hungover to function, let alone ride! Once I got the hang of barre, and the hang of Soul Cycle, I did take the leap to do a Barre-Soul double header, and boy was it a leap! When I got to Soul I could barely keep up with the choreography, forget the tap backs, and I was doing half speed for most of the songs. While the rest of the class looked like an advertisement for Soul Cycle’s pack, I was huffing in the corner looking like it was my first ride.
After doing this combo a few times though, it has become my go-to workout. Pure Barre advertises that it is a great way to cross-train for running, and while I was training for my half marathon over the summer I absolutely found this to be true. While you definitely get your heart rate up in class, Pure Barre is not about an intense cardio-vascular workout; its purpose is to target specific muscle groups and to create lean, toned definition. For anyone who is a casual on-the-road jogger, you know that those runs don’t get to every muscle area. Barre compliments a cardio workout like running so that you can build up cardio conditioning during your run and strength and definition from the barre.
I know that not too many fitness junkies would agree with me here, but I hate running! The minute my half marathon was over I promised I would never run again, and four months later I have kept that promise! Now I’ve nearly entirely replaced running as my cardio training with Soul Cycle. Similar to distance running, spin is not a full body workout. It is absolutely an intense cardio workout and you really build up your leg muscles, but there are still areas that you miss, and muscular training is not the primary focus of a spin class. Soul Cycle is different from your typical spin class in that you focus on your core in the way you sit in your seat and there is a fair amount of upper body training, both in the choreo and in the weights section of class, but for me this isn’t quite enough to tone my arms and backside.
Spin and barre, and more specifically Soul Cycle and Pure Barre, compliment each other perfectly. In those two workouts, adding up to just over an hour and a half of exercise, you hit every major and minor muscle group and you get both intense cardio and shaking legs. That’s where you build your power. More than that though, the atmosphere at both of these studios is similar. Soul Cycle and Pure Barre both foster communities of fitness, and isn’t that what gets you motivated? It’s not just looking forward to bikini season, it’s looking forward to seeing your friends in class.