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The SoulCycle at-home bike motivated me to start working out again postpartum

The SoulCycle bike is connected to Equinox+, giving you access to an extensive library of on-demand workouts.
TODAY Illustration / Tiffany Ayuda

I was never someone who enjoyed working out at home, but when the pandemic hit full force at the beginning of 2020 — and shut down gyms and my favorite boutique fitness studios — I started to do more virtual workout classes via Zoom. During this time, I also became a first-time mom and had much less time and energy to work out, so I was looking for something that would allow me to ease back into exercise and be available whenever I was able to squeeze in a workout.

Running and kettlebell HIIT are my go-to cardio exercises, but it was difficult to get out for a run with a new baby and limited childcare, and I needed a break from kettlebells once in a while. So when I was given the opportunity to try out the at-home SoulCycle bike, I knew it would be a great way to build up my cardiovascular fitness and get into a new routine.

I have always been a fan of SoulCycle’s spin classes and their instructors’ ability to get you into a positive, uplifting mood. I loved that I never felt pressure to be competitive with other people during my SoulCycle rides. As long as I was moving, I was doing something good for my body and soul and that’s all that mattered.

I was eager to try the at-home bike and see if I could get the same experience as being in a studio. Because the SoulCycle at-home is connected to an Equinox+ membership, I was also looking forward to trying out their extensive on-demand workout repertoire.

After completing several rides and a few workout classes, I am offically a fan of the SoulCycle bike and Equinox+ membership. I plan to continue my Equinox+ membership after this test period because I really liked how it offers a variety of workouts — and you don’t have to own much fitness equipment to get a great sweat session at home.

Cost and equipment

The SoulCycle at-home bike costs $2,500, which includes one to three weeks shipping and handling, and the Equinox+ app is $40 per month. You can pay for the total cost of the bike upfront, but there are also financing options.

Through the Equinox+ app, you’ll get unlimited on-demand and live SoulCycle classes, as well as access to a variety of on-demand workouts from brands, such as Rumble, Precision Run, SolidCore and Pure Yoga, that are exclusive to Equinox+. When you purchase the bike, you are required to get a 12-month membership to get full access to all of the SoulCycle classes, so you’ll be billed monthly for 12 months once your bike is delivered. (After the first 12 months, you can continue to subscribe to the Equinox+ app month-to-month or cancel at any time.)

You’ll need to purchase a pair of spin shoes with Delta or SPD-style cleats to ride the at-home bike. SoulCycle sells their Legend 2.0 cycling shoes for $215, and it includes the clips. Most SoulCycle classes also have an upper-body series in the workout so you’ll need to purchase a pair of two- or three-pound dumbbells. They’re available to purchase on the Equinox+ online store for $18-76, or you can buy your own set separately.

Equinox+ also sells a bike bundle for $225, which includes a pair of cycling shoes, a set of dumbbells and a mat that goes under the bike to protect your floor.

What the program entails

Once you receive your at-home bike, you’ll link it to your Equinox+ account through the 22-inch touchscreen. Through the app, you’ll also be able to connect to your Apple Health and Whoop accounts, so you can track all of your activity in one place.

The home screen takes you through setting up your bike, with helpful instructional videos on how to clip in your shoes, adjust your seat height and depth and handlebar height and depth. Once you’re all set up, the home screen highlights on-demand and upcoming live classes, as well as featured rides of the week.

There is also a filter, which allows you to search for classes by level of difficulty (e.g. beginner, intermediate or advanced), musical taste, such as hip hop or dance, instructor, and the length of the workout. Plus, there is an arm series with 5-, 10- or 15-minute workouts that just focus on your upper body on the bike.

Because I was easing back into fitness postpartum, I stuck mostly to 20- and 30-minute intermediate rides. You can also choose to follow certain instructors you like. I loved Claire J. and Victoria B. classes the most for their choice of music, energy and personality.

When you select a ride, there’s a description of the class so you know what to expect. You also get a little info about the instructor and see member ratings and level of exertion, allowing you to gauge how challenging the workout will be.

During the on-demand workouts you'll see three other participants on the screen doing the workout with you. Throughout the workout, the camera will pan from the instructor to one of these participants so you can have a better idea of what your bike form should look like. There’s also an option to pop a bike form check video on the left-hand side of the screen.

On the Equinox+ app, which you use on your smartphone, the home screen shows you workouts it thinks you’ll like and curates workouts based on your history. In the classes tab, you’ll be able to explore workout offerings from Equinox, Rumble, SolidCore, TB2, Pure Yoga, Precision Run and Headstrong. From there, you can tap through the featured, on-demand, and instructors tabs.

SoulCycle on-demand rides

I tried mostly the 20 and 30-minute on-demand rides on the app because these were the workouts I could easily sneak in between my daughter’s naps. Plus, I didn’t feel like I was quite ready to do a longer ride.

Don’t be fooled by the shorter rides, though. They are just as challenging because you’re packing in more intensity in a shorter amount of time. Think: jumps, tap backs, change of hand positions, and oh, lots of resistance if you’re feeling up to it.

Just like their in-person workouts, SoulCycle's on-demand and Studio Stream workouts on the at-home bike are one big dance party that you want to keep coming back to. As soon as you begin an on-demand workout from the library, you are basically transported to a club, where the instructor is front and center with strobe lighting around them.

Just like their in-person workouts ... workouts on the at-home bike are one big dance party that you want to keep coming back to.

There is usually a theme with each ride, whether it’s to show up and keep pushing yourself or max things out with each pedal stroke. What I really loved about riding with the SoulCycle instructors is that you never felt like you had to do more than what you’re already doing. They encouraged you to keep riding and to add resistance and test your comfort zone, but it was never done in a pushy way that might discourage some riders.

Throughout the ride, you’re able to track your cadence (rotations per minute, aka how fast you’re pedaling), power (measured in watts, which is the amount of force you’re using to pedal) and distance covered.

SoulCycle also has a unique feature called BeatMatch, which measures how much you’re in sync with the rhythm of the ride’s music. I saw my BeatMatch metrics after my ride, and it gave me a better sense of how connected I was to the rhythm of the music. (Keep in mind that the BeatMatch feature is only available for on-demand rides and not live rides.)

You can also see who’s in the class with you and send them a message. I was surprised one day when someone I didn’t know sent me a high-five, so I sent her a fist bump right back.

I was able to squeeze in 20-minute rides during my daughter's nap time.
I was able to squeeze in 20-minute rides during my daughter's nap time.Tiffany Ayuda

Each ride is different and has a separate playlist curated by the instructor, but generally speaking, the workouts are broken down into intervals, where you’re alternating between steady pedal strokes with a moderate amount of resistance and sprints or uphill climbs.

We also did an arm series, where we did upper-body exercises with light dumbbells, before finishing things off with a final push. But your arms don’t stop there. I liked how the instructors made creative use of the handlebars; we would do ladders (moving your hands up and down the bars), as well as pushups and crunches. It was all choreographed to the beat of the music, so you were moving your entire body and not just your lower body.

During my rides, the instructors also incorporated a special core element, where you would keep your hands off of the handlebars and ride seated or standing up for a few seconds at a time. This really forces you to power your ride through your quads and glutes and recruit your core to help stabilize you. We also isolated the lower body on the bike and focused on solely moving the legs and feet while keeping the upper body still.

SoulCycle at-home live classes

After trying out several 20- and 30-minute rides, I decided to push myself and finally try a 45-minute live ride, which I ended up loving. It was set in the studio so you get the full candlelit ride experience at home. I kept looking over at my metrics and pushing myself by adding resistance, increasing the pace, and really thinking about my form on the bike. I also didn’t take any breaks on the arm series, which I’m pretty proud of because they are deceptively tough.

Workouts on the Equinox+ app

On days off the bike, I would try out some workouts on the Equinox+ app. You know how much I love my kettlebells, so I was excited to try a 15-minute lower-body kettlebell workout (again, I sneaked this in during my daughter’s nap). The workout began with some kettlebell swings and then moved onto kettlebell reverse lunges. Then, we moved onto the floor to do some hamstring curls and glute bridge marches. While part of the workout called for a stability ball, I wore socks during the hamstring curls to incorporate the stability factor. I also added some weight to my glute bridge marches by holding a kettlebell in front of my hips or above my chest.

One day I decided to try a 30-minute boxing workout from Rumble — one of the exclusive brands on the Equinox+ app — led by Noah Neiman. Two other trainers also joined the workout so you can see how to box without a bag and with one. The workout was broken down exactly like the in-person studio classes at Rumble, where you alternate between strength-based exercises and boxing drills.

During the strength portion, we used a pair of dumbbells to do reverse lunges, shoulder presses, squat to shoulder presses and hammer curls. We also did situps and renegade rows to challenge the core. And to really max out our heart rate, we did some burpees and mountain climbers. When we moved onto the boxing drills, we started with basics like the jab and cross and then got into more punch combos. I don’t own a punching bag, but I still got an excellent workout. In fact, my arms felt more tired and sore than they usually would with a bag.

In addition to kettlebells and boxing, I tried a 20-minute SolidCore workout. As I mentioned, I’m still in the postpartum period of fitness and one of my goals is to work on re-building some of the strength in my core. Let’s just say this workout was very humbling. We kicked things off with plank pikes, which the instructor did with a pair of gliders, but I used my socks against hardwood floors and it worked out perfectly fine. Then, we moved onto some twisted plank rotations that target your obliques and inner-thigh work with leg lifts. We also did some sumo squats and squats with a Pilates ball in between your legs, which really challenged my adductors, quads and glutes.

As I am working to regain my core strength post-pregnancy, the 20-minute SolidCore workout was very challenging.
As I am working to regain my core strength post-pregnancy, the 20-minute SolidCore workout was very challenging.Equinox+

What I liked

I really liked the SoulCycle instructors, particularly Claire J., Victoria B. and Melanie G. I thrived off of their energy and loved all of the positive mantras they instilled throughout the classes. I also loved the range of on-demand workouts and the fact that you could get a really good sweat going after just 20 minutes on the bike.

I liked the option to add a bike form check video to the screen. I periodically popped open these videos to make sure I was following the class properly because it can sometimes be difficult to follow the instructor when looking straight on. The classes also move quickly from one position to the next so it’s helpful to see how you should be positioning yourself on the bike, especially if you’re new to spinning.

While I’m not big on metrics, I appreciated being able to see how hard I was actually pushing myself and what I could do to improve with each ride. It was interesting to see my BeatMatch as well because I want to be able to keep up with the rhythm of the music and get the choreography down pat.

I also enjoyed using the Equinox+ app and being able to balance your workouts on the bike with strength training, core work and other forms of cardio. The workout library is very comprehensive and includes everything from Tabata training to Pilates and barre.

The filter comes in handy so you can curate your own workouts based on the level of difficulty, time and instructor. You don’t have to own a ton of fitness equipment either. In fact, you can use the light dumbbells from your bike to make the bodyweight movements in your other workouts more challenging.

What I didn’t like

Like many cardio workouts, cycling can feel a little repetitive. Although the instructors and the rides I took felt different enough, I wasn’t motivated to use the bike every day. And because I already spend so much time sitting (I have a desk job) during the day, there were times when I didn’t want to sit on a bike to work out.

I also didn’t like that there were only a handful of live classes available each day — all of which were times when I couldn’t make it for one reason or another. Most of the live classes I saw were also 45 minutes, so if you’re crunched for time, it doesn’t leave much room for a shower and a post-workout snack. (FYI, recorded live Studio Stream classes are available for a month in the workout library.)

You can mix up your workouts on the bike with other forms of exercise on the Equinox+ app. However, I wished that the Equinox+ app would allow streaming on a laptop; the workouts I selected were available to stream only on my smartphone, and working out at home, I wish I could see the exercises on a slightly larger screen.

The bike itself is also really heavy (it weighs a whopping 142 pounds) and large. If you live in a small apartment like me, it takes up a huge chunk of space. I wish the bike was a little lighter and that there was a way to compress the machine so I could easily move it around when I had visitors or when my daughter wanted to play in the living room.

My husband saw how much I enjoyed the workouts and he wanted to join in, too. Unfortunately, he couldn’t because he would have to buy his own pair of spin shoes and open up an Equinox+ membership (you can add multiple accounts on the bike). So if you want to add other family members to your plan, you need to cough up extra cash.

I would recommend this workout to:

  • Anyone who loves to cycle indoors or outdoors and wants an at-home option
  • People who want access to multiple workout styles, including strength training, yoga, boxing, Pilates, barre, etc.
  • People who are new to spinning or want to ease back into an exercise routine
  • Anyone who misses the in-person studio experience but wants to do their workouts at home