What is SoulCycle? It's a full-body spinning workout, but what really sets it apart is its community aspect, as well as its unique spiritual component. Then, there are the playlists. According to Danny Kopel — one of MC's personal favorite instructors — the way each class' soundtrack is put together and choreographed is almost an art. "SoulCycle is emotional and spiritual," Kopel explains. "When you leave, you feel like you've been taken on a journey."
What does it do? Aside from being an excellent cardiovascular workout, riders are challenged to push themselves by increasing the bike's resistance and working from the core — namely the obliques and abdominals — to protect the joints. Each class also features an unexpected arm series with light weights and push-ups on the bike, designed to develop long, lean muscles.
How does it feel? SoulCycle has built a reputation for having a cult-like following, and for good reason — it truly is as fun as they say. First-timers will notice their glutes and hamstrings tiring out (read: burning) a couple of songs into the 45 minute class, but the encouragement from the talented instructors and killer music make it much easier to keep going.
How can you get the workout at home? Kopel suggests that whether you have access to a spin bike or a treadmill, put together a playlist of music that speaks to you and moves you — it will help you to power through the workout. Also, try to incorporate light weights if you can.
Classes start at $32. For more information and studio locations, visit www.soul-cycle.com.
What is Ballet Beautiful? A system of exercises and stretches developed by Mary Helen Bowers that's meant to sculpt, tone, and strengthen the body, as well as increase flexibility. "I think that every woman has the ability to transform her body," Bowers says. "What I do with Ballet Beautiful is make the body really long and lean — it's a lot of strengthening through your center and core and your back and upper body for beautiful posture." The classes incorporate both standing routines and mat work on the floor.
What does it do? Bowers says that in just a matter of weeks, students start to see a change — they'll walk differently, feel more lifted, stand up straighter, and feel tighter. The exercises are tiny and very targeted while still bringing up the heart rate, which helps to achieve the sculpted look.
How does it feel? While you're in class, it burns like crazy — you'll feel muscles working that you've never used before, especially through the glutes, hips, outer thighs, and deep through the abs.
How can you get the workout at home? Simple! Bowers regularly live-streams the classes she holds in her NYC studio on balletbeautiful.com, and has a series of DVDs as well. When it comes to her most important principles, Bowers explains that stretching is extremely important, and when it comes to posture, keep your back long, your shoulders back, and pull in through your stomach.
For more information and to live-stream classes, visit www.balletbeautiful.com.