Sunday, August 7, 2011

Soul Bands at Soul Cycle: A Review

Wow, the response to my Physique 57 DVD giveaway has been overwhelming! Keep the entries coming. I'll announce a winner on Thursday August 11th. Now back to regular programming!

I recently took a Soul Bands class at Soul Cycle. Soul Cycle, the wildly popular fitness phenomenon was New York city's first indoor cycling studio. Since opening in 2007 its success has resulted in multiple studios in NYC, a location in Miami and it will soon be making its way over to Los Angeles. I'm an avid spinner and have a taken a few classes at Soul Cycle over the past few years. Classes are fun and set to incredible music but the studio was just not a fit for my style of spinning. However I was really intrigued when the Soul Bands class debuted. This class is designed to provide a complete total body workout where cycling is combined with the use of resistance bands for upper body work.

The class takes place in its own dedicated studio at Soul Cycle's Tribeca location. Each bike corresponds to four resistance bands that hang from the ceiling (two bands are of heavy resistance and two are of lighter resistance). Fingerless gloves are required for this class and are provided free of charge by the studio. These are necessary, I soon learned!

I took class with Laurie Cole. Laurie is probably the most popular instructor at Soul Cycle and her classes are impossible to get into. When I chatted with her after class I told her that I had been trying to get into class with her for years so I could not believe my luck that I got into this one!

Laurie Cole Source

The class consisted of alternating segments of upper body resistance band work with short bursts of good old-fashioned spinning. We did lat pull-downs, shoulder presses, shoulder raises, triceps extensions, biceps curls, abdominal crunches, oblique twists. It was really hard! The bike's resistance was set to medium when we did the resistance work but periodically Laurie would ask us to pick up our speed while we were contracted in a lat pull down or a triceps extension so that added to the challenge, Read: Major burn! The finger-less gloves allow for a tighter grip on the bands, without which I could anticipate some serious friction rub. In between the upper body sets we did some straight-up spinning with increases in both resistance and speed. I was drenched at the end of it - a hot, sweaty mess, and I loved it.

The Good:
1. Instructor: I loved Laurie. Not only did she make sure people were properly set up prior to class, she would get off her bike mid-class and check every single person to make sure they were doing the exercises correctly! That really impressed me. When I spoke to her after class she was incredibly warm and just so sweet. This lady led a killer class and I totally get why she has such a following. Now I want to try one of her regular spin classes.

2. The class: Spinning is such a lower-body intensive exercise and the upper body is often left neglected. Not in this class. You will be working all the muscles in your back, shoulders, arms and core. My lats were sore for days after!

3. Music: Loved the music that was played. Top 40. Classic rock. Hip hop. Something for everyone!

The Not-So-Good:
1. Popular: These classes fill up very fast and classes with the more popular instructors are next to impossible to get into.

2. The price: Classes are $32 each and then it is extra to rent cycling shoes. So it can become an expensive addiction.

Based on my past Soul Cycle spinning experience I was skeptical at how good a workout I would be getting. I should not have been. The bursts of intense spinning gave me my cardio fix while the resistance band work allowed for some amazing upper body sculpting and strengthening. I think an instructor makes or breaks a class and Laurie definitely makes it.