SoulCycle Chestnut Hill Review

March 10, 2014 · 13 comments

On Sunday, I drove out to the ‘burbs to take part in SoulCycle’s opening weekend festivities by taking a class. Aside from balloons and a few samples from SuperCandy at the checkin counter (that disappeared quickly), there was nothing extra special going on. Check in was chaotic even 15 minutes before class began so I was glad I arrived early to the sold out class – that’s 55 people plus the previous class leaving!

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There are only two bathrooms and two showers, no locker rooms but plenty of lockers down a narrow hallway. This is similar to FlyWheel in Boston but has a more cramped feeling since the locker hallway is tucked away in back, blocked by people waiting to get into the studio.

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Like FlyWheel, specific bikes are reserved. I grabbed a spot up front when signing up and quickly set up my bike. Shoe rentals are $3 but I brought my own from home. First time riders get to rent a pair for free but you cannot wear sneakers with the bikes. Earlier in the week I got an email from SoulCyle gifting me a free class since I have visited the NYC and LA studios with an address listed in Boston on file. I assume many other Bostonians got this offer too. Your first class is $20 but a single walk in after that is $30 – a ten pack saves you only $20.

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The bikes are beautifully branded with unique handle bars that lie flat. The bikes you could tell were new before even getting on. The room was branded with typical SoulCycle slogans and mantras. The back rows were elevated for a stadium seating feel.

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So the class was taught by Charlotte, an instructor who came from Brooklyn. SoulCycle brought up all their instructors from New York to relocate and teach at the new studio. I will admit, I had high expectations because of this little fact. My instructor is on the schedule a total of 16 times this week. That’s a lot of cycling considering they do most of the workout with you.

At the start, she had us take off all our resistance and said we would never be there again – but then I must have missed when she told us how much to put back on. We started in 3rd position, like my last SoulCycle class, and stayed there the entire first song. Since I missed the resistance cue, I kept waiting for another command to increase speed or make it heavier but none were given. I loved the music and it helped me find my own groove. The next few songs were well choreographed but I never felt really challenged beyond my comfort zone like I usually do at other SoulCycle locations. I either kept missing the resistance cues or she wasn’t giving them. Here is my LA review <- favorite class at SC so far!

The arm sequence worked and was challenging but then after, we went back into third position for an entire song again without any resistance adjustments or position changes. I feel like the class lacked intensity but given the instructor is teaching so many classes, I can understand and honestly, don’t blame her. I didn’t realize how much it effects the class when the instructor is not doing it with you at the same rate.

Pros:

  • Good Music
  • Good workout for SoulCycle beginners
  • Clean studio, shiny new bikes
  • Great location in the burbs – will be next door to Wegman’s in about 55 days and soon SweetGreen too!
  • Awesome apparel to buy!!
Cons
  • Not as challenging as other SoulCycle studio classes
  • Instructor kept calling us “Chestnut Hill” or “Hill” which felt awkward
  • Cramped changing quarters
  • 25 minutes outside Boston :(

I guess I’m being hard on SoulCycle in this review but only because I know they can and will do better. I have taken classes in NYC and LA many times, and usually love my experience. I did not take and haven’t taken any of the other instructors that moved up here. Depending on who you take, your class experience will drastically vary. At the same studio, it is possible to find your spirit sister instructor but dislike another. I’m excited to go back and try another class, especially when Wegman’s opens up! The studio will do great once it gets a normal sized instructor roster for a studio.

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The lobby also has a killer retail area. The clothes were really cute! Did you check out the opening weekend at SoulCycle? What did you think? Did I have a bad class experience or did you find it similar?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley @ Brocblog March 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm

I’d be interested to try another Soulcycle class but I went for the first time last week in LA and I really didn’t feel super challenged. We spent a lot of time in third position, it certainly wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t super hard.

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2 Sarah March 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Take Angela’s class! I loved it!

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3 Christen March 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I’m going to LA for my very first time next week and will be staying like 3 or 4 miles away from the Santa Monica location. I’m an experienced spinner, but never have done SoulCycle before. Just trying to figure out if its worth the hassle of getting there or just doing my own workout….

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4 Mary March 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I went to a Saturday AM class with Justin and thought the experience was similar. I didn’t like the part at the end where he had everyone go through “chaturanga” on the bike for a stretch….I know there are yoga “elements” to the Soulcycle experience but I thought that was a little too much. The girl next to me almost fell off her bike. While the ride wasn’t bad by any means, I was expecting more for a class that is regularly $30.

Honestly, I think classes at Recycle are more challenging and the instructors push you a little harder to add on more resistance/go faster. And I like the Torqboard at Flywheel!

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5 Sarah March 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm

haha I forgot about that stretch. My instructor taught it too but I did not do it. The bar was pressing directly on my “lady friend” and it hurt! I actually don’t think I’ve done that stretch in a soulcycle class before. But yes – I push myself harder in both FlyWheel and Recycle.

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6 Laura March 10, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Sarah,
I am New York transplant living in Boston (well Newton…) and took my very first SoulCycle class during a trip home to visit my friends/family last March. For the past year, I have been taking classes every time I make a trip home so you can imagine how excited I was about the Chestnut Hill location. If I didn’t coincidentally JUST move to Newton Highlands (about 2 miles down from the studio on route 9), I would be extremely annoyed by the physical location of this studio.

My cousin works at corporate and had told me that the instructors that are moving to Boston for this studio are fairly new, so I actually wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t want to have too high expectations especially during the first week. I have now taken four classes since the opening (two with Todd, one of Erin T. and one with Justin. I took the very first class on Wednesday morning (opening day) with Todd. I was pretty unimpressed by the choreography and actually got a little bit bored because we were just riding without doing anything else for a majority of it. The second class I took with Todd was similar. I’m not sure if he was going easy on us because he is aware that there are a lot of people that have never taken SoulCycle, therefore he did not want to scare them away the first week. Or, there’s also the possibility that since he is such a new instructor, he maybe hasn’t built up his confidence yet to add more versatility to his choreography. He was nice to look at, but honestly I can’t justify paying for his classes anymore because they just did not challenge me enough.

Erin T and Justin’s classes, on the other hand, were more on par with my expectations of a SoulCycle class. A lot of energy, a lot of “wooohoo-ing”, and good amount of upper body work (i.e. push-ups on the handle bars,).

As far as I know, Erin T. will only be teaching for the first month and then heading back to NYC. I’m not sure about the other instructors, though.

I’d be curious about a follow-up review by you in a few weeks or so.

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7 Laura March 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm

In regards to your feedback about the cramped space…. I guess I kind of overlooked this because I’m used to that being the case in NY so was expecting the same here.

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8 Sarah March 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Thank you Laura for sharing your experience! I thought the same thing in regards to “taking it easy on us” but that is not the SoulCycle I’m used to… It seems like Erin is the instructor to try next for me before she leaves. Hopefully, SC sees this post and talks to the instructors. I did hear that they were newer so maybe time/confidence will solve the issues.

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9 Cate March 11, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Hi – I was super excited for SC to come to Boston. I’d read and heard so many great things about the classes, that I couldn’t wait to sign up as soon as we were able. I took the same class as you (actually, I saw you out by the lockers, but I didn’t want to bug you!) and I agree with your review. I think my expectations were high and I wasn’t wowed as I was expecting. I’ve taken more challenging classes at my Y – I completely agree about your comments on missing the tension increase queues. I ended up having a sweaty workout and burned lots of calories, which is ultimately why I exercise, but I think I was expecting more for the cost.

I plan on taking a class with each instructor to see if maybe Charlotte just wasn’t the right fit for me.

PS – I can’t wait for Wegmans to open! :)

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10 Denise March 12, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I took a class with Erin T. and with Charlotte. I thought Erin’s class was much better in terms of a fun and demanding workout. I was fairly disappointed with the class I took with Charlotte. It didn’t have the energy and excitement level I expected from SC. I agree about the space being cramped and I was surprised with the small space given that it’s in Chestnut Hill. I had a difficult time making my way out of the building after my class given how many people were in the hallway by lockers and the number of people waiting to get into the studio for the next class. I can’t imagine being able to access the bathrooms and/or showers after a class based on my experience.
Overall, I don’t think it’s worth the $30 price tag for a single class. Maybe it will get better over time but the initial impressions customers have will impact how the studio does in the long run.

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11 Lynne March 16, 2014 at 5:27 pm

HI Sarah

I have to agree with your comments. The space is great and the staff is really solid, but it doesn’t have the same intensity as NYC. I was just down there a took a few classes and got “IT” handed to me. I loved that. The space in CH is small with no locker rooms unlike NYC. That is really tough as people are so cramped. I hit my head pretty hard on a locker that someone left open so going forward I won’t bring any belongings into the space and leave them in my car. I assume more teachers all get added to the mix. Maybe some NYC transplants?

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12 Anonymous June 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm

I love this workout, i just ran the boston marathon and swear i didnt sweat this much. Its a great alternate to running. I took a few classes with todd and had great experiences. I took one class with Charlotte and it was horrible, i went for a long run after. I am going to try a few others and continue taking Todd’s class.

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13 Sarah June 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Poor Charlotte! I had hoped she would have gotten better by now :/

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