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Soul Cycle versus Flywheel

  • August 25, 2015
  • By Brittany
Soul Cycle versus Flywheel

Hey friends!  How is your week going so far?  For a long, long time I’ve been kind of quiet on this blog about my feelings for Soul Cycle.  I’ve talked about my love for Flywheel but I haven’t really delved into the pros and cons of the studios.  Well, I don’t know why I’ve been holding back.  So here it is.

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away, I tried spinning for the first time (ok it was high school and Massachusetts).  I can’t say I was overwhelmed.  Sure it was a great workout but to be honest, I was kind of bored.  I tried again when I fell in love with Les Mills classes.  Their spinning class, called RPM, was sure to be a hit, right?  Well, I never really pushed myself that hard and I kind of got bored on the bike. 

So, in 2009, when I heard that Kelly Ripa had started going to this place called Soul Cycle (I heard about Physique 57 from her and that is still one of my absolute favorites!), I decided to check it out.  I still remember to this day the euphoric high I felt at the end of this class.  My instructor didn’t just stay on her bike and ride the entire time, I didn’t just go up and down hills or sprint, instead, the instructor walked around the room encouraging students and I learned the infamous “tap back.”  I was hooked.

soul cycle

At the time, I was in law school so I could go a mid-day class on Fridays.  It became my Friday ritual.  I loved this class.  I had no idea spinning could be so cool and so FUN.

I graduated law school and headed into the workforce, no longer able to make my Friday mid-day classes, I fought with the best of ’em on Mondays at noon to reserve a coveted bike spot.  Often times I could only do an 8:30 pm class, but as a new lawyer, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Although I began to notice that my class didn’t quite have the je ne sais quoi as my other classes.  On the rare occasion when I could get to a mid-day class with my old instructor, I found she was no longer teaching that class.

Around this time I heard about Flywheel and I decided to give it a try.  I headed into class, knowing what to expect but again, I was blow away.  There was the same amazing level of energy I was used to from Soul Cycle but there were also stats.  I could COMPETE with other participants and track my progress.  Plus, the shoes and water were FREE!!!


I continued to split my time between Soul Cycle and Flywheel and when I got engaged, I bought packages to both.  Soul Cycle also really began to take off at this time, the classes were crowded, there were new instructors and then Soul Cycle was bought by Equinox.  I started noticing that waiting for a Soul Cycle class was like standing outside of some pretentious downtown bar (which I don’t do) and people were more interested in being seen than in, you know, getting fit.

I started hearing stories and reading articles about how ineffective the “tap back” is and how the auditions became about hiring performers.  Honestly, I got frustrated spending $30+ on a class only to watch my instructor check himself out in the mirror the whole time and to, quite frankly, not get a great workout.  Instead, I turned my focus to Flywheel where I felt like the workout complimented my outdoor cycling.  


Anyways, I’m not going to turn this into a Soul Cycle bashing article (enough of those have been written) but I have to say that when a fitness studio excludes people from the front row because they are new, charges you an exorbitant fee PLUS water and shoes, and offers kind of a so-so workout, it’s time to hang up your cycling shoes and find a new place.

Of course there are a ton of great cycling studios.  My favorite happened to be Flywheel but I think what finding a good studio boils down to is finding a place that is welcoming, accepting and offers a scientifically proven great workout. 

Readers, have you tried Soul Cycle or Flywheel?  Are you a fan of spinning?  What are your feelings on the front row?

By Brittany, August 25, 2015
  • Danielle @ Little Mama Big Life
    August 25, 2015

    Interesting post! I’ve never tried spinning myself, but have heard mixed reviews about both those places as well! Thanks for your honesty!

  • Christen
    August 25, 2015

    I’ve done them both and I agree. I think I like Flywheel better. While you burn a TON of calories at SoulCycle, there’s just something about the atmosphere that I don’t like. I love the competition aspect of Flywheel and that makes the class go super fast!

  • Allie
    August 25, 2015

    Love this! I have never tried SoulCycle (and now I never will) but I have done FlyWheel and, of course I loved the competition aspect. What I didn’t love was the little weighted bar we used for an “upper body workout” that was more of just a rest. I also didn’t love the instructor stopping ALL THE TIME and just sitting on his bike yelling instructions. Not motivating.
    Fortunately, I teach my own lowly spin class at the Y and get to listen to all my favorite tunes while yelling at people and sweating. Dream.come.true.

  • Kayla
    August 25, 2015

    I think the awesome thing is that both are an option.

    I personally don’t thrive in competitive environment so Flywheel isn’t my thing (worked front desk there for a year though and definitely took advantage of the free classes!)

    I totally agree that it’s annoying how Soul Cycle charges extra plus doesn’t have the friendliest reputation. For me though exercise is about release from my usually calculated life. It’s a relief to not have to stare at numbers and feel anxious about hitting metrics during a class– I can just enjoy it at soul cycle.

    I don’t attend class at either very much these days though due to $$ but wish I could!

  • Holly
    August 26, 2015

    Wow, I have not tried either but I have done cycling elsewhere–I know what to look for now! TY.

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