Toronto: SoulCycle has arrived. The spinning studio that has been nothing short of a fitness phenomenon south of the border (the one that all your friends tell you about every time they come back from LA or NYC) has opened their very first Canadian location on King Street West. In case you haven’t tried spinning in quite some time, this may be the impetus you need to give it another try. With over 70 locations across the US and now expanding into Canada, they must be doing something right.
I’ll confess that until about a year ago, I thought that I hated spinning. My past experiences with it just didn’t speak to me: I found it dull, repetitive, and moreover, my concern was that too much spinning could create imbalances in the body. Sure, it was great cardio, but there was far too much focus on quadriceps, not enough glutes, hamstrings, abs, or upper body, and a tendency to create tight hip flexors.
But spinning has changed, and really, SoulCycle has been the catalyst for that. Candlelit studios, upbeat music, choreography that aims to keep things fun and target more muscle groups. Not to mention classes led by people that are yelling for you – rather than at you.
There is no doubt Toronto is now home to several really great studios that offer this kind of experience. But since SoulCycle has been the successful driving force behind this movement, I felt compelled to visit their newly opened digs at King and Spadina and really see what it was all about.
Spacious and accented in the brand’s signature cheerful yellow, this location features a lifestyle boutique peddling SoulCycle’s original line of athleisure clothing (including a collaboration with Roots). The 55-bike studio feels cozy and is dark enough to let even the most uncoordinated among us (that would be me) check our inhibitions at the door.
My instructor, Adam, was charismatic, incredibly energetic, and motivating. The very on-point playlist he created for the class certainly helped in that department as well. He led us through a challenging 45-minute class which I not only enjoyed but found that he added in enough cues on how to target specific muscle groups such as glutes, hamstrings and abs that I felt I had a full-body workout. There was also a section towards the end of the class featuring some upper body work with light weights.
I’ll caution that this is an intense cardio workout if done to full extent, so as always, those taking the class should modify if they feel the need. (Please – always do this. Always.)
Staff are on hand to help newer students adjust their bikes to the optimal height and proportions for them – which is really key for a good spinning experience (otherwise you will be a little sore in areas you really don’t want to be sore. Trust me. Padded bike shorts are also not the worst idea.)
Each rider is loaned a pair of specialty cycling shoes for the best experience. I still haven’t managed to figure out how to clip the specialty cycling shoes in and out of the pedals – but someone has always been kind enough to help me out with this.
The verdict? It’s fun and tough! There is definitely something about working out in a group like this, with catchy music and even catchier energy from a good instructor that is really uplifting. I left feeling happy, energized, and like I had worked hard. Consider me a convert – and officially less jealous of your trip to LA.
SoulCycle King West, 435 King Street West., classes cost $20 for first-time riders and $28 per class otherwise and sold in packages of five, ten or twenty.