And she's buying the stairway to Soul Cycle (My take on last night's Led Zep class)

Good afternoon, friends o'mine. Happy Throwback Thursday and such.

So as some of you know, l've been a big fan of spinning for a really long time. Of late, I've stopped going in favor of Pure Barre because it was causing my body a bit of pain (particularly my upper body from being crouched over all the time). I know it's not an even swap at all- cardio is cardio and such but whatever, this is boring.

So my bigger point is back in the day, you'll recall my profession of undying love for Soul Cycle, the fancy New York spin studio that lights candles, affirms your life, and works your ass so hard you'll be in tears, if you can stop sweating first. For the uninitiated, Soul Cycle is a bit of a "thing"- Kelly Ripa goes, Brooke Shields, all kinds of skinny celebrities clip into a bike and get to spinning. Way back when, there was one Soul Cycle, all the way uptown on 72nd Street or so and the West Side. It was never convenient for me, but I went like most people go to church. I LOVED it. Cut to now when there are Soul Cycles in every nabe and the branding, though admirable, is plastered all over sweatshirts, expensive dry fit leggings, and a strange tank top that is long in the front and short in the back (what woman wants that?). Inevitably when something is good in this city, or anywhere, when it gets too big, it's just not as good. I am a firm believer in this, so prove me wrong if you know otherwise.

So being on their email list all of these years, I couldn't help myself when they were offering a "Zeppelin" themed ride. There's not much in the way of music that I love as much as some Led Zeppelin. I mean, really, how is that not true of most of us? So the thought of combining spin and Zep was a great one for me, until I tried to sign up online, at precisely 12 pm on the dot. Within seconds, every bike was booked. I promptly called them and complained, and they magically found me a bike. I was in. And last night at 6:30, I rode my face  (and hopefully a little bit of my ass) off. The instructor was Laurie Cole, one of the original founders and I must admit, a pretty big badass. In she strode, impressive guns a blazin, with a shredded Zep tee shirt, an expensive haircut, and a huge personality. Oh, and here's what I didn't realize- I was in for a "warrior" ride- a whole 15 minutes extra as opposed to the normal 45 minute class. Shite. You have no idea how long 15 minutes is in a class like this...oy.

But wait, I gotta back up a minute. As I was changing in the excruciatingly tight locker room, (ladies, if you ever wanted to touch another woman's ass or boob but were afraid to and would prefer to have it happen accidentally, you can easily do that here. Not a problem. And it will not be a big deal, because there are asses and boobs everywhere.) A more zaftig type asked me what I thought of her tank top. This was the one I was referencing before- the one with the party in the front and no ass coverage whatsoever. Picture this with leggings. not good. Not good at all. What could I say? Amidst all of the boobs and g-strings, I panicked and told her I loved it and she should buy two of them. I'm an asshole. 

Then as we waited in line to get into the studio, a sea of uptight and obnoxious New Yorkers of the hyper Alpha variety were waiting to get in. There were different versions (the two gay guys talking about the wealth of the Syrian Jewish community), the blissed out devotees in bra tops and little else. The standing bitch faces. They were all there. Oh and I was there too. Grimacing.

So, back to the class. First thing you notice when you enter the room is the intense heat. INTENSE BEYOND BELIEF. There is only one studio in the Noho location, and there was a class right before us, and really, if you don't like the smell, taste, and heat of sweat, this is not going to be cute for you. As I fumbled to clip into my bike (my own shoes worked, but they have them if you don't have your own), I realized I was already having trouble breathing. And the class had not yet begun.

But as the opening chords of "When the Levee Breaks" cranked out of the soundsystem and Laurie greeted us to what was the 7th year of annual all Led Zep rides, I got onboard. But only briefly. 

As the bikes are so close together, you are regaled with a whiff of everyone's funk, breath, and sweat. Right up on me on my right side was a pretty young thing- lovely little girl with a ponytail and a goofy smile (she's def a devotee). Seemed lovely, until she furiously began breathing on me. Hot, stinky, workout breath. The entire class. I'm not sure if this was her way of dealing with the agony, but trust me, it made my agony a lot more severe. I'd say about halfway through "Kashmir" and about 30 minutes into the class, I had to tap her on the shoulder (which was not far by the way) and tell her to breath the other way. I'll probably never talk to that girl again. I'm cool with it. I'd inhaled her way too long.

And though I greatly admire the fact that Laurie had the energy of all the bulls at Pamplona, I could have done without her singing. It's just not worth it to compete with Robert Plant. Please don't try. Like, ever. And her affirmations, for a cynic like me, were, well, more challenging than the class. A lot of "giving in" and "giving over" and all sorts of soulisms. And then when she made us all wave our arms in unison I kind of lost it. And though I have always loved the candlelit/meditative quality of this particular brand of indoor cycling,  was I in some sort of weird well-toned cult? How much longer was this class again? Why are my legs so tired? And boy, do you not notice how long Zep songs are when you're doing the things you're supposed to be doing when listening to Zeppelin. (Hint- exercise of this nature is not on the list). Did you know "Kashmir" is 8:28 seconds long? In spin class, that's an eternity. Trust me. I started thinking I'd be way better off in a Ramones themed class. Blitzkrieg Bop. 2:12. Hey ho, let's go.

So after being breathed upon, heavily, and slogging my way through intense heat, affirmations, and other things that made me forget how much I love Zep, we got to the inevitable conclusion, and what better way to end a Zep spin than with "Stairway to Heaven"? PS- my fav moment of the class- a woman had the misfortune to walk out on the last song- perhaps she had somewhere to go or wanted to beat the throngs that make you feel like you’re in a Bollywood movie/Times Square/Shinjuku all at once. In August. But I digress, because right after that door hit her in her well-toned ass, the teacher said "WHO THE FUCK WALKS OUT ON STAIRWAY, MAN?" A valid point. And that is bad form. But berating somebody because perhaps they have somewhere else to be or are exhausted or just wanna jet seems bullyish to me. I mean really- the girl paid $30 like anyone else- let her do what she needs to do.  Hey, teacher, tell me you have never walked out during an encore to beat the crowds. Uh huh. Thought so.

So the class ended and we stretched on the bike (no matter how much yoga or whatever I do I will never be able to do that hamstring stretch on the bike- my leg won't go) and clapped and woo hooed and all of that. And then I tried for about 20 minutes to get my sweaty ass out of there, but the hoards of spin zombies wouldn't allow it. So while I was waiting to get out, I of course bought a pair of those sun/lemon/bike wheel aforementioned pair of dry fit pants. Capris. With polka dots. So cute. (Ugh).

And yea, the class was a great workout. No doubt about that, and if you dig the motivational speaker type thing from an instructor, she's inspired and inspiring.  I'm just too much of a non-joiner to believe the hype. I like the small batch stuff before everyone else catches on.  And though playing Zep during a spin class is genius (there is no better hill climbing song than Kashmir), I was distracted. No, it wasn't the heavy breather. It was the fact that as I looked around, I realized that everyone, including me, had paid a whopping $30 to sit on these bikes and sweat to classic rock. There were about 30 bikes in the class. There are about ten classes a day. There are probably about twenty locations now. You do the math, friends. You do the math. Wowsers. That's some well-paved stairway to heaven. Damn. 

So what's the net net on the whole experience? Meh. Had it been less crowded and less hot, I would have been happier about it. But that's the way it goes in New York- everything you want to do and think is cool so do a million other idiots. And all of them will pay good money to sweat within inches of each other because it's the thing to do.  I think I would have preferred to just listen to Led Zeppelin, from my sofa, with nary a sports bra in sight. I think Soul Cycle has jumped the shark into oversaturation (bought by Equinox and such), and for me, it's no longer all that. What's next, people? What's next? I'll get in line now. Just make sure there is a cute logo and some good gear. That's about what it takes. Because somewhere, there will inevitably be, a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold. Just probably not gonna be me. Cause that's what's up this post workout Thursday in the 212.  I mean, who would you rather hang out with in the picture above? Exactly. Yours, in Plant and Page. XO

2 responses
You're very cool Sheri..Love spinning and so loved your post.. Opening a studio in Tenafly,NJ real soon and don't wanna jump the shark before my spin shoes hit the water...researching what's cool and what's not..I found your blog in my travels..cracked me up..I so get it.. XO
Laurie thank you...happy you enjoyed the piece and would love to check out your studio should I ever find my spin shoes in Tenafly!