What to Expect at Your First SoulCycle Class

by | Updated: June 13th, 2018 | Read time: 4 minutes

Looking for a new cardio workout? You need something that’s fun, but challenging. Oh, and you want to burn a ton of calories, too! You might want to consider a spin class.

A stationary bike workout benefits your mind, body and soul. In fact, that could be why the next biggest thing in spin class is called SoulCycle. SoulCycle, with its motivating instructors and inspiring music, has started a revolution. Some people even call it a “cardio dance party.”

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While SoulCycle may seem intimidating at first, remember everyone is a beginner at some point. Take one spin class and you’ll be so hooked that any reservations you had will be long gone. There are, however, a few tips you’ll want to know before hopping on a bike. Read through this quick guide to ensure you have the safest, most effective, calorie-burning workout!

What to expect at a SoulCycle spin class

You’ll need to show up early to your first SoulCycle class, so you can meet the instructor to discuss your fitness goals and/or any physical limitations you may have. Once the workout is underway, you’ll be on the bike for 45 to 60 minutes. For beginners on the bike, you may experience a sore behind during or after class. This does get better after several classes, but you can also invest in your own padded seat cover for extra comfort.

Some SoulCycle classes incorporate light hand weights for upper-body exercises, so be prepared for a few change-ups. Also, beware that the music is very loud. The upbeat beats are meant to motivate you to push harder and release those feel-good endorphins. If you find the music to be too loud for your liking, bring earplugs to soften the sound while still hearing the instructor’s cues.

To make sure you’re well-fueled for the intense one-hour workout, it’s a good idea to eat a light snack at least 30 minutes before spin class. Some easy-to-digest options include a banana with natural peanut butter, Greek yogurt with berries or a whole-food-based protein bar. Don’t worry – you’ll likely burn 400 (or more!) calories in one class. Expect to sweat a lot, work hard and have lots of fun!

What to bring to a SoulCycle spin class

Large water bottle 
Small towel for wiping your face
Head band to keep flyaway hairs out of your face
Sports bra
Leggings or padded bike shorts (optional)
A positive attitude

How to adjust your spin class bike

1. Stand next to your bike. Adjust the height of the seat to be at hip height.

2. Double check the seat height by sitting on the seat. When legs are fully extended, there should be a slight bend in the knees.

3. While on the seat, place both hands on the handlebars and lean forward.

4. Adjust the seat forward or backward so your elbows are slightly bent.

5. Pedal forward to bring pedals even with one another. Check that your front knee is over the center of the pedal. If not, adjust your seat forward or backward again.

6. If your shoulders are scrunched up when you’re on the handlebars, adjust the bars down and/or forward until shoulders are down and relaxed.  

7. When you’re ready to start class, locate the resistance knob under the handlebars. Turn to the right for more tension and to the left for less resistance.

8. If you need help, ALWAYS ask the instructor. They are well-informed of seat settings, as this is taught during their certification course.

Dos and don’ts during spin class

DO keep knees pointed forward
DO keep feet flat
DO relax your shoulders
DO engage your core muscles 
DO take breaks as needed
DO sip water often throughout class

DON’T compare yourself to others

Spin class lingo

Saddle: your bike seat

Pedal stroke: a full turn of the pedals in a circle. Tip: during class, you want to keep a smooth pedal stroke.

Flat road: this is the baseline for your resistance knob. You’ll feel some tension while pedaling – about a step above zero resistance.

Gear up/ gear down: when you hear the instructor call out these words, you will either increase or decrease resistance. Instructors may also tell you to turn the knob a quarter or half turn. However, increase at your own pace (hint: no one knows how much you’ve turned the knob).

Let’s stand: turn up the resistance knob and get out of your saddle. If you have a knee injury or just need a break, stay in your saddle.

Intervals: during spin class, intervals are like sprints. You will pedal as fast as you can for a certain amount of time and then rest. For example, you might do a 20-second sprint, followed by a 10-second rest.

Hill climb: increase resistance to simulate riding uphill. Resistance will be high and your pedal stroke will be much slower.