SoulCycle: Bethesda

Soul Cycle BethesdaI’ve allllwwaayyss wanted to try SoulCycle.  So when it finally decide to move into the DC region, I couldn’t wait to try it out.  In celebration of their grand opening in DC {2301 M Street NW, Washington DC 20037} back in August 2014, SoulCycle teamed up with Georgetown Cupcakes to offer special SoulCycle cupcakes that came with a free class with purchase!  So I snagged one of those up.  The coupon was due to expire at year-end and I’ve been so lazy to metro down to DC.  As luck would have it, the Bethesda location {4931 Elm Street, Bethesda, MD 20814} opened yesterday and it’s right down the street from my apartment!  So they graciously accepted my voucher!  So for any of you still left with these vouchers, looks like the Bethesda location is honoring them too!  

Soul Cycle Bethesda front desk  Bethesda SoulCycle

The SoulCycle in Bethesda took over what was previously RiRa.  The RiRa restaurant was closed down (relocated to Georgetown) and the ginormous space was split into now SoulCycle and Noodles & Company.  The location is great and right in the middle of downtown Bethesda and not to mention down the street from Equinox.  It will be interesting to see if patrons move from the luxe gym club for a more specialized workout.

Soul Cycle Free Class Voucher   Soul Cycle Bethesda Studio   Soul Cycle Bethesda Studio1

AmenitiesAmazing.  I started to understand the hefty price tag that comes along with SoulCycle when I started going through their Bethesda Studio.  The studio offers a LOT of lockers, they’re a bit on the smaller side but good enough to throw a small gym bag & maybe your purse in.  The locker room?  I’m going to call it more of a hallway is Co-ed.  And the lockers already have a built-in lock, so there’s no need to bring your own.  Just set your 4 digit number code, turn the knob to the right to lock, and then change the numbers on the dial.  When you need to get back in, just turn the dials to your original number code and turn the knob to the left to unlock!

Off to the side of the locker hallway, is a Men and Women showers.  For the women’s shower (nope..didn’t go to the men’s..but I’d imagine it be the same), there were 3 shower stalls available and 2  bathroom stalls (which were spacious enough for changing).  They carried basic shower amenities (body wash, shampoo, conditioner) as well as other bathroom products such as hair ties, lotion, face wash, razors and hair dryers so that it would be easy to go to a spin class before or after work.

Bethesda SoulCycle Women's        Bethesda SoulCycle Women

Studio: There is basically no unused space.  Bikes are extremely close together, one right after another.  I wouldn’t say I’m claustrophobic, but when I’m breaking a sweat and working out hard…it is not that enjoyable to have so many bodies that close.  So I tend to pick the bikes up front next to the instructor.  Not only does it give me some place to breath, but I get an upfront view of what the instructor is doing.  What I do love about this studio, and I’m not sure if it’s because it was opening weekend, but they just have tons of staff ready to help!  Whether it was at the front desk, or in the locker hallway to help you figure out the lockers, or setting you bike up in the studio..there were plenty of people around!  Again – I guess that justifies the huge price tag.  

Soul Cycle Bethesda Studio2      Soul Cycle Bethesda seat

Also…I was almost giddy with excitement when I saw this.  Up by the instructor’s bike is a row of not only weights (feel free to switch them out if you need a heavier/lighter set), but also bike pads!  I know some studios charge clients to borrow one for class – but SoulCycle provided them for free!  Even though I’m use to the bike seat by now…I’m not going to say no to a comfy gel pad.  ahh.. my tush thanked me for this.

Class: I don’t know what I really expected out of a SoulCycle class.  I just kept hearing how amazing and wonderful they are.  The first thing I immediately noticed are the song choices.  My usual spin class uses current pop songs with a heavy beat.  The songs the instructor choose today were noticeably longer..probably 6-7 minutes? and she also offered a variety of songs that didn’t have as much bass and were not easily found on the radio.  It was definitely nice to have a different musical setting.  Since instructors usually define a workout set to end and begin with the song, the class overall felt shorter than what I was use to (since each individual song was longer).  

Classes here really focus on endurance rather than high-paced sprints.  There were times in the class where I found myself out of breath, but I didn’t feel like I was riding particularly hard.  But then I realized it was because the instructor favored riding out of the bike at a high resistance for longer lengths of time than I’m use to.  The instructor did not do as many tap backs and presses than I would have liked, but she definitely incorporated a couple into the routine.  

Also, worth mentioning – SoulCycles have their own branded bikes.  And..they’re pretty awesome.  One noticeable difference about these bikes are the handlebars.  They have a middle bar that runs perpendicular to the main handlebars.  These are unlike other spin bikes that have 2 bars running parallel to each other.  What I loved about the cross handlebars was that it was made for doing presses.  It was awesome!  Something hard to describe in words, but once you try it on the bike…you’ll know what I’m talking about!  

After about 30 minutes of riding in and out of the bike, we did one set of arm exercises.  Nothing that special, just bicep curls.  I’m sure the arm workout is specific to the instructor, but it would have be nice to do some tricep arm work as well.  The great thing about their bikes is they actually have a special rack for dumbbells right under the saddle.  After the arm workout, there was a song set aside for the riders themselves.  The instructor dimmed the lights and let the riders go out at their own pace.  At the beginning of the class they light up 4 large candles in front of the instructor to create an environment.  I thought it was a nice touch that she moved these 4 large candles and placed them in the front of the front row.  It really emphasized that this moment was focused on your ride.  

After that..it was two more songs..and class was over!  Quickest 45 minutes ever!  And then….it was a mad dash for the lockers!  There was about 15 minutes till the next class started, and the co-ed locker hallway was packed.  It is a bit difficult to navigate, but you make do.

Cost: For first time clients, you can try your first class is $20.  Just make sure to call the studio directly and they’ll set you up.  After that, classes range from $26-$30/class depending on how many classes you purchase in a pack.  If you’re visiting a soul cycle in an area outside the DC region, make sure to check the website for that region’s respective prices.  {Sidenote- if you bought classes for a region and want to ride in another region that have cheaper classes, you can use your classes.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the other way around though}  

What to Wear: Check out my post on What to Wear to a Spin Class and What You Should Bring to Your First Class!  

First Class: Similar to other spin studios, you’ll need to buy spin shoes to clip into their bikes.  If this is your first class, just let the front desk know and your shoe rentals are FREE!  After your first class, spin shoes will cost $3/rental.  

Also – if this is your first class, try to show up at 15-20 minutes early so you can have someone help you get situated and set up your bike.  What I do love about this SoulCycle is they had tons of staff members available to help you set up your bike.  Not sure if this was because it was their grand opening weekend, but there were 4 staff members walking around the class to help students get set-up.    

Soul Cycle Bethesda LockersAnother reason why I recommend you getting there early is that the locker area is long & narrow and can get very crowded especially between classes as people are trying to get out while others are trying to get in.  

All in all, it was a great experience and I’m so glad I finally got to try it out.  The facilities, staff and amenities are definitely top notch and I can definitely understand why they charge such a premium for every class.  I think it’s definitely important to keep in mind what type of class experience you want from your work out… and how much you’re willing to pay for it.  For me…this would be such a fun place to hold an event with friends or co-workers.  I could definitely see this place as a magnet as alternative bachlorette parties or team outings and would probably go back for that reason.  But as for my weekly work out routine –  the price tag isn’t worth it for me.  This place is probably best fit for special occasions.  However – given its place in Bethesda, I’m pretty sure this place will have no trouble attracting clients.  Even on its second opening day, they already have sold out classes!  

Has anyone else tried SoulCycle.  What are you thoughts?

If you guys are trying out your first class, be sure to check out my four part series on “What to Expect From Your First Spin Class”

-P

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