Spinning in the 3rd Trimester + Thoughts on SoulCycle Back Bay

Exercising during pregnancy hasn’t been nearly as dreadful as I imagined. I actually still love it – mainly because I’ve reduced the intensity and frequency. I’ve been enjoying going to as many classes as I can because I know I won’t be able to once the little guy arrives. I mostly am going to yoga and spin classes these days.

Finally tried the #BKBY @soulcycle location with my friends from @drinkmaple. Loved staying hydrated with the maple water during class and earning 45 @wellcoin bucks for checking in but the class was “ehhh” to me. I think there has been too much build up around SC. It’s like that restaurant everyone has been raving about and you order the wrong dish. It really depends on the instructor. I find it lazy that two whole songs in a 45 min class had zero choreography – this also happened to me at the Chestnut Hill location so maybe it’s an SC thing!? Also, the hair whip…. I detest the hair whip. Got a solid sweaty workout. If it wasn’t “SoulCycle” I would probably have little to criticize but since it has a cult following, I feel like I should always be blown away. I have taken some amazing SoulCycle instructors by the way and loved their classes! Is the brand expanding too fast and can’t keep up with quality instructors? Is it our fault in Boston for having too many studios and not enough talent? Anyone else? Thoughts? #wellcoin #SoulCycle #healthyboston #makeyourmove @kohls #drinkmaple #littlefitbumpwatch #fitpregnancy #32weeks

A photo posted by Sarah Dussault (@sarahfit) on

A month ago, I went to a class at SoulCycle Back Bay and shared a picture with my less than stellar enthusiastic review. I didn’t love my instructor and wondered if SC had bitten off more than they could chew, expanding too quickly with not enough instructors who could really give the cult-worthy experience. They literally called me on my cell phone unannounced and wanted more feedback. As a result of our phone call, they gave me 5 classes to try other instructors.SoulCYle Back Bay

I’ve now used 4 of the 5, and have to admit that I still feel the same way as I did before. I gotta hand it to SoulCycle for a gorgeous facility and great branded apparel. Beyond that, my feelings begin to deteriorate for the Back Bay location. Below is shot of the lockers and my post workout snack. Love these Squarebars and the USB plugs in the lockers for cell phone charging during class.

Snack after class

Out of the 4 instructors I tried recently, most have you out of the saddle for 80% of the class. During one class, the first 5 of 6 songs were entirely out of the saddle. Pregnant or not, I personally hate this. I can’t go as fast out of the saddle and enjoy the occasional hill or sprinting sitting on my butt. Resistance is very low throughout every class. There is little choreography and no counting most of the time. You’re a fitness instructor, give me a count! I wondered if the instructors made up the choreography as they went along to be honest. Each song seemed to have very little thought put into it.The playlists were always good but no better than other good studio playlists in Boston in my opinion.

The speed commanded by the instructors was impossible for me to maintain. Too many times we were told to “double time” at a pace that most novice cyclists couldn’t keep. The “push ups” combined with extreme speed seemed unsafe and ridiculous in one instructor’s class – a very experienced spin instructor agreed with me on this point. While I was never called out – thanks to my belly probably – others were. Some people may like this, others may take offense. Be prepared if you go in the first 3 rows for this.

My favorite moment was when one of the instructors tried to share some spiritual motivation, “Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable,” she said in the middle randomly of some song without any other guru sayings before or after. Ummmmm… OK? What does that even mean in this context? Don’t be afraid of feeling like SoulCycle may harm me?

The arm portions of class were unpredictable. Some teachers taught challenging sequences and others were just too easy and a waste of a song. My bike one day had 1 lb weights so make sure you check under the saddle before class starts.

I just felt like I was never in the seat and there was a lack of motivation from the instructors to push myself with resistance. It felt more like their opportunity to show off their flat stomachs, hair whips, quick feet or taste in music.

SoulCycle Back Bay, just give me some time in the saddle, resistance above a 7 on a scale of 1-10 and a beat that I can actually maintain and I’ll be happy! If you are looking for constructive criticism, slow down your expansion, focus on training your instructors and making sure they are prepared to teach a safe and effective class.

I have loved most of my SC classes at other locations. It really depends on the instructor and unfortunately I do not love the Massachusetts based instructors. I’ve tried 5 total and will give one more a shot and share my feelings here if they are changed. I am obviously not in the majority. Most of the classes are nearly sold out! I wonder if this is because of their name brand recognition or if people have tried other studios in Boston and prefer the SoulCycle way to the others?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

If you want to go and try it out, go in the back couple rows. You can do your own thing and not feel like an asshole. It’s hot and you get sweaty, the times are good for people that like non-rush hour classes which is me but I rarely leave feeling any sort of exercise endorphins, just frustration.

Recycle studio

I’ve been loving classes instead at Recycle Studio. Yes, I’m friends with the owner and many of the instructors but I pay for my classes and do love them, I wouldn’t pay for the classes otherwise. There is always a mix of sprints with low resistance, climbs with slow beats, fun choreography and the arms section always gets me. Unlike SC, I’m not worried about teachers as every one has been amazing including their newest additions.

I love spinning while pregnant. Honestly, I prefer it to walking. It’s easy to modify the workout to keep my heart rate lower. Sometimes my booty feels uncomfortable during the first song, but it goes away quickly. If you are a runner like me and have stopped due to hip pain and having to pee, try spinning but make sure you are looking in the right place. Studios and instructors are all different as you read in this post.

Prenatal Yoga in Boston?

As for yoga, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about prenatal yoga in the city. Sadly there is not much in Boston proper. I would suggest educating yourself on modifications for your trimester and taking your regular favorite classes. You won’t be able to do everything but you will be able to do most. Teachers can give modifications but still, the more you know the better. I have a video coming out soon featuring many of them.

I love Back Bay Yoga and often take advantage of their $5 and $10 classes. Back Bay Yoga was recently bought by Yoga Works but they still have the same schedule and instructors. In fact, many of the instructors now have benefits through the studio and former owner Lynn seems to be as happy as can be without the strings attached to being a boss lady. I’m happy that this transition appears to be a good thing for everyone.

There are prenatal yoga classes in Coolidge Corner, Jamaica Plain and more. I’ve been to the Coolidge Corner location and would recommend the Wednesday night and Saturday morning classes for people who want to “flow.” If you just want to meet other moms and get out of the house, the other prenatal yoga classes will work for you as well. Personally, I found them boring and more of a meeting with a couple stretches than any yoga.

You can also do prenatal yoga DVD’s like I did before announcing my pregnancy.

I don’t want to call out any teachers above from SoulCycle publicly. If you know me or see me, I’d be happy to chat in person but just don’t see the point in naming them here.

Spinning in the 3rd Trimester + Thoughts on SoulCycle Back Bay

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  • britney

    I went to Recycle Studio when they first opened but I haven’t been since! I actually don’t like a lot of choreography and prefer more “road” spinning workouts. But I recently won 3 SoulCycle classes in a raffle so I will be checking it out. How does it compare to The Handle Bar, which I don’t really like because of the choreography? (The staff and instructors are really nice and helpful, I just prefer the style of other classes.)

    • Sarah

      well -- it’s not really like road riding in my opinion because it’s all out of saddle and I’ve never ridden much out of the saddle on a road. Go and try it out though! There is less choreography but I don’t think it’s like a road. They always have a few songs with no choreography but they are always out of the saddle to the beat of the song.

  • Liz

    Loved this review- totally made me laugh. I have never tried Soul Cycle and it just felt so gimicky. I have done flywheel for a bit and while I liked it other studios were better. I’ve heard great things about recycle- I am also fully obcessed with the Handle Bar and would recommend it if you like Recycle, I hear the style is similar and the instructors are great. Plus it’s also local which I think makes a difference over the chains.

    • Sarah

      I love supporting local studios. Unfortunately, I don’t like to travel far so if I can’t walk, I usually don’t go unless they ask me to review and are brand new. I’ve been to Handle Bar a couple times and enjoyed my classes. Recycle is closer to me however than Handle Bar. Glad we have so many options. We are lucky.

  • Valerie

    Hm, interesting. Luckily I live in NYC so I have access to some of the most advanced instructors (since it started here, so obviously most have been teaching longer and sell out in seconds), but I can absolutely see your point about spreading too thin in terms of branching out too quickly and juggling training new instructors. Every time i see a new instructor on the NYC schedules, they disappear after a few weeks, only to find out they were just teaching in NYC for a couple weeks post-training and jetting off to a new city. It seems like other cities are getting the shorter end of the stick, which would disappoint me. So looking at the roster in Boston, most of the instructors are new. That doesn’t necessarily have to be bad, some can start out strong, but maybe it can take a bit to get up to master level of some of the ones in NYC. As for resistance, that varies instructor to instructor I find, but I hear a lot say that they see riders who look like they could be riding with so much more and wish they would, so don’t be afraid to turn it up when you want to, not just when the instructor says so! Personally, I go to SC to get my @$$ kicked because if I’m going to pay for a single class, it better be worth it. You find the instructor(s) for you after a little while. I’d maybe go back when you’re not pregnant anymore because after that time, maybe some of these instructors will have gotten more advanced. But I highly recommend Sara (no h at the end) and Catie! I’ve taken their classes when they used to be in NYC and they’re amazing! Sara teaches a great class with incredible playlists, and Catie’s is super intense, definitely the most advanced new instructor I’ve ever encountered. Other than them, I don’t know much about of the other Boston instructors.

    • Sarah

      Will do! I’m going to save my last class. I know that when I started at barrys I was nervous and have since improved. One of the instructors I went to though is a city “favorite” and while it was the best I took, it wasn’t my cup of tea. I have loved though most of the nyc instructors I’ve taken!

  • Katie

    SO happy to see an honest review of Soul Cycle. Thank you!! I agree with your sentiments and find people generally unwilling to admit faults in fear of going against something viewed so popularly. I’ve never done a Boston class but between LA and NYC I’ve witnessed the same things. I’m happy sticking to other studios that have the fun playlist / atmosphere but incorporate it with a safe ride with some resistance!

  • Julia

    I had the same negative experience too! Both in the newest location in Chicago (the loop) and at the Beverly Hills location from one of the “top”
    Instructors. They have you use zero resistance, go way too fast, simultaneously ask you to perform push-ups and all the while the instructor is whipping her hair or getting OFF OF THE BIKE to watch herSELF dance in the mirror. All I have to say is: are you kidding me?! I didn’t shell out $$ to watch you dance, or be at risk of breaking my knees from insane RPMs, I came to sweat. I’ve been to Flywheel, Equinox, and other boutique gyms and never had these types problems in a spin class. would never go back to a soul cycle class and pay full price (I’ve also been to the Santa Monica location with friends. Music was so loud we were literally yelling at each other after the class to carry on a conversation. Great workout, but not worth it at the risk of literally going deaf from it).

  • christenrgowan

    Definitely interesting to read the review! I don’t know what the hair whip is, but I definitely had a bad feeling from the Soul Cycle class I took (this one was in Santa Monica when I was traveling). The instructor basically said that holding back effort on the bike really hurt the entire class, which I don’t agree with nor felt that was good to tell people….

  • Mary C

    Thank you for your honesty! I agree, there is way too much hype over this studio. I have taken a few classes in NYC and here in Boston. I found no difference between the 2 cities. The classes are not challenging, but they turn the heat up, so everyone sweats and thinks they had this amazing workout. In the most recent class I went to at Back Bay the instructor had us doing some crazy stretches on the bike at the end of class and I couldn’t help but look around waiting for someone to fall off their bike.

  • Kathleen

    I go to Soul in DC. I just stick with the original studio (now called West End). They expanded from 1 studio in DC and then a year later opened 4 more in a month. I tried one of the newer studios and it is empty. The instructor was just ehhh. Being a loyal rider, doesn’t make you a great instructor.

    They all love the standing all the time thing though. Did you not experience that at the other studios you tried? Some instructors say to add resistance and others just sort of say, “and now we are going up a hill”…which if I was new would mean nothing to me.

    • Sarah

      I’d have to look back at my other reviews but I do remember the first song is always out of the saddle with no choreography and it always drove me crazy. I was usually able to relax after that though. It gives me anxiety when I’m out so long haha.

  • Angela @ Witty Aspirations

    We don’t have any of their studios down here in central Arkansas. But I really appreciated your honest review of the program. You are one of the view bloggers/vloggers that I feel will always give a 100% honest opinion/review.
    Your bump looks super cute in the pic above too! Congrats 🙂

  • Alexa

    I just went to Soul Cycle Beacon Hill for the first time last night and had almost the same feedback as you -- verbatim! One of my best friends from work shared your blog with me and I think you are dead on! Your review is completely fair… down to the “vulnerable” line -- I died laughing when my instructor said that last night. 🙂

  • Scared Smith

    Please keep my name/email anonymous.
    SC is not a consistent,safe,comfortable or effective workout.Pregnant or NOT. I agree with your review.

    SC has expanded too fast! In this futile effort; SC has sacrificed when it comes to, their] instructors professionalism,ethics,talent, and education/experience in both physical fitness and biology/physiology. SC in their rush to expand,has also dropped it’s standards in hiring instructors that are kind,inclusive,respectful and stable in the head,emotions. I’ve been verbally attacked,insulted by a SC instructor who’s name will remain anonymous, because this person is clearly unstable emotionally and mentally.

    6 AM
    Femal instructor or actress ????????
    She did not motivate me at all! In fact she frustrated and insulted me. I was drenched in sweat!.Not mine, her sweat from it being hurled my way, thanks to her theatrical hair-flips. I also heard her talking to another instructor about another woman, who she “hates”. There were threats,hate wishes! I was mortified,horrified. The next day the only thing sore; was my butt!
    I’ll never go back to this SC instructors class!
    Idk if I’ll ever go back to any SC class.


    Looking for a good and safe spin class

    • Linda

      Please keep my name and email anonymous.

      I hear now a soul cycle instructor at back bay is strapping a make shift booster seat to the bike and teaching the class with the baby in the seat!
      Omg this is not safe,ethical,professional!
      Is it legal?
      Poor baby should be someplace quieter not as hot and not so germ ridden as a small room with no air and the heat blasting.

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