Monday, April 6, 2015

Flywheel vs. SoulCycle: My Take On the Matter


Note: My blog graphics skills are second to NONE. To none.

I didn't think I liked spinning classes. I had tried them before and was left feeling unimpressed in the mind and sore in the butt. Granted, these classes were usually in old bikes, in old NYSC gyms, but still. Butt sore and would #RatherBeRunning.

I'll get you my pretty....

About a year ago I tried SoulCycle and I actually conceded to liking it a lot. I even went back a second time. It was quite enjoyable.

But then, at the urging [read: berating] of friends, I tried FlyWheel. And oh my goodness, you guys. I am obsessed.

I realized that there is a strong reason for why I liked FlyWheel whereas I have other friends Soul obsessed. There's some key differences between theses two trendy boutique studios which I wish I had known in advance and which I feel like may be helpful for you.

Let's start with SoulCycle

Class Structure: 
45 minute classes on the bike. One song (towards the end) using light hand weights for your arms. Lots of choreography (i.e. bike push-ups! side-to-side! up and down! tap it back!). All about doing the movements "together, as a community."

Awesome music. Dark. Candles. Cool quotes on the wall to make you be like "yeah! go me!"

Their Description:
At SoulCycle we believe that fitness can be joyful. We climb, we jog, we sprint, we dance, we set our intention, and we break through boundaries. The best part? We do it together, as a community. SoulCycle doesn't just change bodies, it changes lives. With inspirational instructors, candlelight, epic spaces, and rocking music, riders can let loose, clear their heads and empower themselves with strength that lasts beyond the studio walls.

Anyone see the SpiritCycle Kimmy Schmidt parody? It was glorious. You should be watching (and probably have finished) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt by now. Get on it.

The Bikes: You can reserve your bike in advance when you book the class (no need to rush in early to grab one!) The instructors and staff are great about helping you set up if you need. Light hand weights are kept in holders on the bike. You adjust the torque (i.e. tension) with a knob and you ride based on feel.

The Money
First-Time Class = $20 (includes shoes)
Regular Class = $34
Shoes = $3
Water = $2

My Take: 
Soul Cycle's description is totally accurate. It's all about together and community and setting intentions. And is kind of where they lose me and gain others. I think it's a very cool concept, the idea of fitness community. And I've definitely found that with November Project (with which I'm totally defunct lately! My B!)

I got a phenomenal workout at Soul, but the vibe wasn't entirely for me. There's a cult-ish element to it which -- like all cults -- is probably only fun if you are in it. Being a cult outsider never seems as fun as being a cult insider. Also, there's a lot of choreography which I did feel like was distracting me from perfecting my form and maximizing my workout. I'm sure after many classes I'd feel differently, but I felt a little uncomfortable for a lot of the class. And the other big matter is the money. It's steep! Very steep! And to not include shoes? Big miss from my perspective.

Frankly, if I want the SoulCycle vibe I'll pay for a yoga class or I'll go to November Project for free. 


Now to Flywheel:

Class Structure:
Usually 45 minute classes on the bike. Like Soul, one song towards the end on the bike is dedicated to arms and you use a light weighted bar (that's stored also on the bike itself). Focus on riding hard and achieving personal bests. Also choreographed somewhat to music.

Vibe: Great music. Dark room. No candles. Less spirituality and more "get your ass in gear."

Their description:
The workout that offers a chance to achieve something more. The step up onto a custom engineered bike. And ride as hard as you dare.

Our instructors lead the way, suggesting target resistance levels and RPM's to strive for. But YOU decide exactly what's right for you by controlling the technology on your bike. And your performance stats are made available in your private account on our website.

The Bikes:
Here's the key difference, and it's highlighted in the description as well. Like in Soul, you reserve your bike online. But unlike Soul, your bike has a screen that shows you your exact speed and torque so you know where you are in the ether of bike riding. What's better is that since it's tracked on the screen, you can track it later on an app and see your progress over time (I've taken 3 classes and I'm improving each time!)
 You can also opt in to the "TorqBoard" which -- periodically in class -- will show how you are performing in relation to the others in the class. If you're not crazy competitive like I am, absolutely you can not show up there (and many don't). If you're a maniac like me? Well, ride....and compete...and do awesome.

The Money:
First Class: Free!
Regular Classes: $34/Ride 
Shoes: Included
Water: Included
Bananas & Apples: INCLUDED

My take:
No contest. FlyWheel for the win. I like that you can track your progress in an app. I like that it's competitive. I like that there are free bananas.

The biggest win is honestly instead of an instructor saying "turn the knob a full rotation," at FlyWheel she can say "Your range is 30-35 torque." Okay. I get what that means. And it's helpful to know if I'm struggling at the low or high end of that. Or to know that next class maybe, just maybe, I can push myself to 36. I like the exactness of it and the competitiveness of it. But I can see how others may not. If one was a more "go with the flow" individual, one might not like it. I turns out....a crazy person who likes to know if I am at 80 vs. 82 RPMs. #Important #Psycho 

So ultimately you should decide for yourself. Both studios are really nice, with very helpful staff. Both studios have great locations, including the UES (perk!) and locations country-wide. Both studios will give you a killer workout.

So what do you think? Do you agree? Do you Soul? Do you Fly? Do


  1. I completely agree. I never feel like I get a killer workout at soul cycle, even if I enjoy the actual class!

  2. I've only ever gone to SoulCycle, and that's only 2-3 in the 4.5 years I've lived in New York. I never really go the hype, and I hated the whole "dancing on the bike" thing - I'm not coordinated enough for that, and I'd rather just push hard and have to tap back all the time...or whatever they make you do. I felt like an idiot when I couldn't figure it out. Plus, the competitive side of me hated the "ride as one" idea - I want to push harder and beat everyone! And it's just so expensive - and doesn't include shoes? That makes me angry. I'm going to try FlyWheel one of these days - hoping I agree with your thoughts.

    1. Would love to hear what you think after trying it!