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All You Wanted to Know About SoulCycle But Were Afraid to Ask

SoulCycle Palo's first graduating class of Soul 101; photo via Noelle Matthews/<a href="http://instagram.com/noellematthews">Instagram</a>
SoulCycle Palo's first graduating class of Soul 101; photo via Noelle Matthews/Instagram

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There's a fitness revolution happening in the Bay and it has everything to do with SoulCycle. Everyone's obsessed, loving the one hour of sweaty, cycling madness. And who cares if certain fitness experts say spinning causes thigh bulk when the music is bumping and the group mentality keeps you inspired to bust through the calories and any negativity. But the SoulCycle choreography can be daunting for the late adopter. Avoid frustration, confusion, and the possibility of injury by signing up for Soul 101 ($85; includes shoes and water; available at the Palo Alto and Marin studios). I tried the three-class course (done in one hour, weekly increments) to learn the basics (well, re-learn for me) and to sharpen my form.

The first class focused on setting up the bike, the rider's form, using resistance, and "riding as a pack." A few girls in the class were already SoulCycle regulars, but the 7:30pm start time worked best for their work schedules. The 30 minutes devoted to set up and the rider's positions may have had them rethink the choice of using the course as their full SoulCycle fix. But for the new riders, it was a relaxed environment to ask questions and figure out the tricks of the trade (especially the snapping in and out of the pedals). By the end of the class, we were marching to the beat of the music for a mini-ride.

The second class added a couple of the signature SoulCycle moves like the push-ups and the the tap backs. And the third class rounded out all the choreography with travels and sprints. When I first started SoulCycle in 2007, I picked everything up by sight, which meant that I didn't always know the technically correct positioning for each move. The intro course broke down all the choreography into digestible pieces so that we could learn the proper forms—and avoid both future injuries and the use of the wrong muscles.

Overall, the course is a total blessing for both rookies and veterans, alike. It does start out slow so brace yourself if you already have a little spinning knowledge. But for those self-taught, there's still much to learn about positioning (and even about setting the perfect bike height). I did find it a little disappointing to see some riding errors go uncorrected. My first SoulCycle instructor's best advice to me was to drive the movement from the core rather than from the hips. But the message went largely undelivered throughout the course. Perhaps it's something to be called out later on in the SoulCycle journey. Regardless, all graduates are leaps and bounds ahead of any new rider who just dives in—and poised to see that 10-class package (and then some) through.
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SoulCycle

600 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304