A Brutally Honest SoulCycle Review

I'm Drinking The SoulCycle Kool-Aid And I'm Not Sorry About It

I'm hooked.

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Let me preface before I dive into this — I have a full on gym membership included under my tuition plan, yet I paid $30 to take a cycling class...when I could have done it for free. Was it worth it? And more importantly, is it worth paying $30 every time I want to take a class?

Don't worry, I did my research before I walked in the door. I watched countless videos on YouTube, read through their protocols online, and embarrassingly enough, skimmed over some Yelp reviews to give me a better look at what I was getting myself into. Here's a small breakdown on everything they mentioned before stepping into the studio:

- Wear comfortable, tight clothing! You don't want your flowy pants or shirt getting in the way of your workout

- Arrive at least 15 minutes before class to rent out your shoes, find a locker, and fill up your water bottle

- If it is your first time (which it was), ask someone at the front desk to help you set up your bike and get you locked in

- They don't mention this, but I highly recommend that you stretch and/or start riding the bike before class begins. I made the mistake of jumping into this super high energy, physically demanding session and not preparing my body beforehand.

So now that you're in the studio and on your bike, take notice of the environment around you. The room is dark, like lights off, with the exception of a few big candles by the instructor's podium. I actually preferred it this way — mainly so no one could watch me sweat all over this bike, but also because the dimness created a really peaceful atmosphere. The speakers were playing some pump-up music to get you hype for class, and as soon as the clock hit 5:45 p.m., the doors were shut.

My instructor, Devin, ran in and took the podium. He introduced himself to the group and asked if there were any new riders tonight. I raised my hand shyly and he laughed, "OMG you're so cute, welcome!" He went over some positions for me, pointed out the weights behind my bike, and reiterated that if anyone couldn't do some of the things, it was okay to modify the exercises. Perfect, we're good to go now.

To my surprise, we went HARD right at the beginning. I'm taking fast pedaling out of the saddle (your butt isn't sitting, it's raised with your hips back) for the first twenty minutes. Plus, you do pushups while riding, I'm not even kidding. If you thought this was just a good leg workout, you're wrong. You're shifting your weight constantly from front to back so your arms, abs, and legs get some attention, too. You're also instructed to turn the resistance wheel every once in a while to increase, obviously, the resistance on the bike. Yeah, you're gonna feel the burn.


Not only was the instructor incredibly accommodating, but the riders all around me were also so kind and encouraging (ew, I cannot believe I just said that). After finishing a tiring round, we'd give each other sweaty high fives and "you go girls" all around. I loved this energy. I needed this energy in my life. I've known about a few other cycling studios around Chicago like CycleBar and CYCMODE, but chose Soul for this very reason. I've heard that CycleBar is very competitive and puts your "spin score" on monitors during class for you to see where you rank amongst your fellow riders. I (and I'm sure there are others) am extremely competitive at literally everything — even things that don't matter. I know that if my workout were given a score or compared to others' in the class, I wouldn't enjoy that experience at all. I would be so fixated on that number and never on how I crushed it during class. But that's just me.

So, back to the real question: Will I return? Was it worth it? The answer is 100% yes. All the way. The only thing holding me back from going every day is that damn $30 class fee. As of now, it'll be my weekly "treat-yo-self" activity. In the wise words of Elle Woods, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't shoot their husbands, they just don't!"

Don't shoot your husbands, and more importantly, don't shoot yourself (this is all metaphorical, I hope you understand)! Maybe your self-care is an iced latte after work, a bubble bath before bed, or even a weekly spin class to get your blood pumping. Thanks to SoulCycle, I'm off to a great start this week.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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11 Reasons Why Hiking Should Become A Pivotal Part Of Your Life

It's good for the body and soul.

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I was lucky enough to grow up 10 minutes from a national park. This meant that some of my earliest memories were riding on my dad's shoulders through miles of beautiful trails. As a got older, the simple joy of enjoying the fresh air and getting away from the craziness of life that hiking offered only made me fall in love with it more. Now, whenever I have a rough day or just need a break from stress, the first thing that I want to do is hit the trails.

1. Fresh air

Emily Smith

Being cooped up inside for too long can take a toll on anyone. Being able to get out and breathe the fresh air and feel the sun shining can instantly boost anyone's mood!

2. Exercise

Emily Smith

Hiking is a great way to get those extra steps in, and many areas have different paths you can take depending on your fitness level.

3. No electronics

Emily Smith

I am so guilty of going on my phone way too much. Being outdoors allows a break from social media and time to focus on being in the moment and enjoying the amazing world we live in.

4. Scenery

Emily Smith

Hiking allows us to see some of the most gorgeous untouched pieces of nature. It is hard to not be amazed by how beautiful our earth is.

5. Vitamin D

Emily Smith

There is nothing that a little bit of sun can't cure. Being outside in the sun not only gives you a nice summer glow, but it can be so beneficial to our health! Vitamin D helps boost our immune system and gives us energy.

6. Way more fun than going to the gym

Emily Smith

Going to the gym and using the treadmill and other machines provide a workout but can become more of a chore than fun after a while. Hikes are an amazing workout that hardly feels like a chore. So, the next time you are getting tired of the same old routine at a smelly gym, think about taking a hike instead.

7. Stress reliever

Emily Smith

Being out in nature can be such a great break from the "real world."

8. Great way to spend time with friends

Emily Smith

The next time you don't know what to do with your friends, consider going on a hike! There are so many fun things to do, like bring a picnic or watch the sunset. It's a great way to switch up your typical routine of watching T.V. or Netflix.

9. Perfect way to exercise with dogs

Emily Smith

Instead of taking your dog around the neighborhood, switch it up and take them on a hike! It's a great workout for them, and oftentimes, a lot more enjoyable than the daily neighborhood route.

10.  It's free!

Emily Smith

What more needs to be said? Free fun is hard to come by nowadays, so going on a hike can help your bank account too!

11.  It's fun!

Emily Smith

What's not to love about the endless ways to enjoy hiking?

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