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.