Written by Liz Giegerich.
Dimly lit by only four candles at the floor of her bicycle and the red exit signs on the walls, SoulCycle instructor Mandy Brooks led a class of about 60 riders through a heart-pumping 45 minutes of running, dancing, and weightlifting on their bikes. The class of mostly fit women in their 20s-40s and several men pulsed to the beat of the music as one, mirroring all of Brooks’ moves.
“When you walk in the door and are there in the dark it is just you and your personal journey for 45 minutes,” said Brooks, a Rye mom of four who has been teaching at Greenwich SoulCycle since it opened in January of this year. SoulCycle is a trendy indoor cycling company recently acquired by Equinox that is opening a new location, where Brooks will also teach, at 21 Rye Ridge Plaza mid-September.
As the Monday 6:30 p.m. class in Greenwich went on last week, eyes adjusted to the darkness and it was easier to see the riders’ toned triceps as they did synchronized pushups on the handlebars and popped up and down on the seats. Brooks walked through the rows motivating riders, calling out their names and enthusiastic “yeahs” and “alrights!”
After the first 20 minutes of riding Brooks led the class through nine and a half minutes of weight lifting. Most used one or two-pound weights that get heavy fast during non-stop reps of bicep curls, side flies, tricep kickbacks and more.
Brooks estimates that riders burn between 600 and 800 calories per 45 minutes class. Some cyclists do two classes back to back.
Cyclists enter the clean, white studio at floor level and then walk downstairs to sign in when they arrive, scribbling their initials next to their name and a number that represents which bike they will be riding. SoulCycle has its own clips so people can either rent a pair of shoes for $3, buy a pair, or buy clips that they will install for you. The first class is $20 and then it is $30 a class after that, or you can buy a package that offers a cheaper rate. If you are going to try it out, arrive early, before the lights go out so you can see your bike well enough to set yourself up. But don’t worry if you are late, a friendly SoulCycler will use a flashlight to make sure you are comfortable and locked in for the ride.
An open unisex locker room with keypad locks are available and they have men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers as well. Upstairs, which is at ground level, more friendly SoulCyclers man the desk where they sell branded cycling pants and other athletic gear.
Not only are the employees smiling and happy to answer questions and help you out, but fellow cyclers are too, most seeming to embody the mantras posted around the place.
“It has a kind of yoga fusion to it,” Brooks explained, sitting across from a large neon sign advising to “take your journey, change your body, find your soul.” Brooks went through nine months of training to learn form, the arch of the class and cuing and more.
“A class should take about seven to 10 songs,” she said. “It is like a warm up to the party, to weights and then a soulful song, and a heroic ending,” she explained. Brooks’ playlist included “ Put Your Back Into It,” a Notorious B.I.G. mash up with a Rent song, and current hit songs.
“You are the one that played another Rent song a few months ago right?” a rider asked Brooks as she was leaving after class. Brooks confirmed. “That is on my iPod now because I heard it in your class and love it,” the rider said. Others passed by and asked Brooks to Bartaco with them.
“In Greenwich it is the best riders I have ever seen. They have great form, rhythm, energy and we have all become friends. We go out after class it is like a little community,” Brooks said. Brooks mentioned another rider who said her kids think she is cool because she learns all the popular music at SoulCycle.
Brooks, like many SoulCycle instructors, have created a following at the Greenwich Studio, where seats for the entire week of classes fill up as soon as online registration is opened for the week at noon on Mondays.
SoulCycle expects to draw a similar crowd to the Rye Ridge location, which is tentatively set to open Sept. 16. We’ll report the final opening date when it is announced.
Are you a SoulCycler? Tell us what you like about the intense cycling class or your instructor in the comments below.