This summer, much to the shock of my friends, my family, my coworkers, and to myself, I turned on spinning. I’m not sure exactly what soured me on an exercise I once held so dear. Maybe I was just burned out on the bike, but I personally think it has to do with the words of a man named Jason Walsh.
I’ve heard the celebrity trainer and founder of boutique studio Rise Nation say that spinning is “a road to nowhere” before, but it didn’t sink in fully until I heard it on my favorite podcast, Bitch Sesh, when one of Walsh’s clients, Casey Wilson, relayed his words to listeners. I probably should have taken Wilson’s words with a grain of salt because the actress once said that the Peabody Award-winning Broadway show Hamilton was garbage, but it stuck with me! In Bitch Sesh I trust. Plus, Walsh trains Jennifer Aniston and, like, Brie Larson. Surely he knows things.
The “road to nowhere” theory does make sense. The arms section of most spin classes isn’t exactly rigorous, and while you’re definitely getting your cardio in, spinning isn’t a full-body workout. It’s also easy to overdo it in spin. The only time I’ve ever tweaked my back was due to a SoulCycle class.
Maybe SoulCycle gets that spinning can’t be your only workout, and SoulActivate, their newest class, is their response. Billed as a “high-intensity interval and strength training class,” SoulActivate, which popped up on the Dallas schedules halfway through September, is basically SoulCycle with a Barry’s Bootcamp-like twist.
Kevin Cummings, the only Soul instructor currently teaching the class and one of the few Dallas people I enjoy a man bun on, attempted to sum up SoulActivate to the class I attended last night by comparing it to the standard SoulCycle class. “They’re different, but they’re the same. But they’re different.” Indeed.
There are two hand weight sections, one with Soul’s typical two- or three-pound weights, and another with a larger five- or 10-pound weights. The class gets started with a sprint (a much-faster-than-usual rhythm on the bike) and then alternates between two weight sections and two R.I.I.T sections. Now, I think the “R.I.I.” stands for “resistance, intensity, and interval,” but I know the “T” stands for teamwork. Basically, you turn the resistance up as high as you can possibly handle it, peddle really hard for about 20 seconds, and then stop biking completely while you recover. But here’s the thing, when we’d recover, Kevin would turn down the music almost entirely as the packed class all but fell over their handlebars panting. I’ve never seen so many people on the verge of passing out in such a condensed space. It was intense.
Speaking of intense, at one point, Kevin wrote the word “demon” on the mirror. Were we chasing them? Were we them? It was unclear.
Kevin was right though. SoulActivate is different from SoulCycle. It definitely feels like you’re activating (natch) a lot more muscles than in a typical 45-minute spin class. It’s also very, very hard. But in a fun way!
It’s currently only being held twice a week (once at Uptown and once at Preston Hollow), but my anti-spin self would totally go back. Hopefully, other spin studios will follow suit and add a more dynamic class to their repertoire. Maybe spinning can be saved after all.