SoulScoop: Official New York SoulCycle Instructor Ranking

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I introduced my bestie,  Jazzmin, to SoulCycle about 2 months ago and since then she has officially joined the cult.  She’s not a casual cult member by the way,  shes’ a freakin’  fanatic – I’m talking multiple classes per day sometimes – no joke!

That said, Jazz has taken classes with almost every single instructor across all of the New York studios.  Today she is gracing us with some #realtalk and providing the inside scoop on the best instructors.  You guys know we always keep it extra real on GRIT by Brit…enjoy 🙂

jazzmin lamas

Guest post by Jazmin (AKA Jaz on Jane)  Harvard MBA, NYC Finance Professional, SoulCycle cult member

And here’s the official ranking…

  1. Stacey Griffith: If anyone can get Kelly Ripa bobbing to Khia’s My Neck, My Back (lick it), it’s Stacey.  There is a reason she has a cult following, and the reason is that she’s amazing. She plays Jay-Z, Fleetwood Mac, MIA, Kanya, Nine Inch Nails, and the most incredible mash-ups you could ever imagine (99 Problems/99 Big Red Balloons). She varies the workout just enough (alternates between top of the hill and low resistance intervals) that you sweat your a** off without feeling completely lost.  She’s inspiring. She’s challenging. She’s zen. She’s crunk. She is everything you could want in an instructor and I am clearly obsessed with her.
  2. Nick Oram: Nick is hot. So is his class (literally, you can see the steam on the mirrors).  His class is always a challenge, and there are a few songs that he plays more often than not (Daylight, Summertime Sadness, Everything) which, if you like his taste in music, makes it really fun.  Everyone is on the same page, and bobbing in the same direction.   There is admittedly little to his choreography (lots of around the world), but for me it’s just enough.  
  3.  Charlee (aka Christine Atkins)Charlee is also hot.  She has an amazing body, raspy voice, and dirty mouth.  She reminds me of the girl with the dragon tattoo, minus all the scary piercings.  Her playlist is dark and dramatic (Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Eminem, insane instrumentals) and the beats have a way of pushing you through her grueling workout.  I love the way she goes heavy on the tap-back push ups so they are right on beat.  Charlee likes to say at the beginning of each class that the “ride is only as hard as you want to make it,”  but I think it’s pretty challenging no matter what.
  4.  Parker Radcliffe: Parker reminds me of Kurt from Glee.  He is upbeat and endearing and does cute dances in the mirror.  His classes are somewhat inconsistent, however.  Sometimes they are challenging and the music is killer and sometimes it’s less demanding and heavy on the house/techno, which I’m personally just not that into. 
  5.  Emma Zaks: I heard that in LA they have 90’s themed rides.  Emma is like a Z100 DJ circa 1996 (think Four Non Blondes, Collective Soul, Whitney Houston).  The workout was also challenging, heavy on the resistance and the arms section was really long.  I like how invested she is in our getting a good workout – telling the class where and when to squeeze and reminding us not to ruin it all when we got home by pigging out (“just eat lots of protein”).  I can see how her class might appeal more to women, but as a female 80s baby I dug it.
  6.  Rique Uresti: Four words: TOP OF THE HILL. That is pretty much where you will spend the entire class. Everybody knows Rique is one of the most challenging instructors, and I think that’s one of the reasons he has such a big following.  Rique reminded us that “a tight bike equals a tight body,”  and besides the Canadian sounding “ayes” that followed a few too many sentences, I LOVED his attitude.  “Keep up that resistance, and soon enough you’ll be sleeping with cuter people.”  Sign me up!  The only thing I wasn’t into was Rique’s music. I like songs with words, and his playlist was lacking. I’ll give him another chance, but for that reason he’s not my personal fave. 
  7.  Jolie Walsh: One of my friends who is a Nick/Rique devotee recommended I check out Jolie. Jolie was super cute, the kind of person you want to go out dancing with after class (she kept saying things like, “pretend you are at a club” or “I can’t wait for spring break”! The class was really upbeat and she counts in Spanglish so you feel really inspired to get bikini ready for that beach vacation. 
  8.  Sydney Miller: Sydney took my soul cycle virginity. The first class was high energy (two of her best friends were in the class and it also happened to be both of their birthdays) and it just what I needed to get hooked.  Sydney is great for first timers, very explicit in her instructions but also willing to critique.  In one class she repeatedly reminded me to keep my knees in (both on and off mic).  Though I was a teeny bit embarrassed, it was a much-needed and appreciated cycling form correction.  
  9. Danny Kopel: Danny is another SoulCycle favorite who isn’t 100% for me. The two times I took his class, I didn’t find it challenging enough.  I also thought the music was mixed (although in the second class he played 3 Michael Jackson songs, which was fun).  He is entertaining and fabulous, but I enjoy more of a challenge. 
  10.  Jeremy Whistine: I was really excited to take Jeremy’s class because I always hear the music before going into Nick’s 5:30 and its great.  Apparently Jeremy’s Friday evening class is his most popular, but the class I went to wasn’t very full.  That makes it more challenging for the instructor to get the energy up, but it’s still no excuse.  His music was great, but the class wasn’t challenging at all.  For the first time when I got off the bike I went to the front and asked to get into the next class, which ended up being my first experience with Charlee and my first back to back.  If you are going to go with Jeremy, I would say try to Friday night class where there is  presumably more energy. 
  11.  Madison Lari: I haven’t taken a Madison class in a while, but in general I would say that she provides a solid workout to a solid soundtrack.  In the middle of one class, at the top of the hill she proclaimed “ugh I was in such a bad mood before this class, but not any more”.  She just reminded me what an amazing distraction SoulCycle is to an otherwise hectic/stressful/burdensome life of a New Yorker.
  12. Melanie Griffith: When I took Melanie’s class, it was the first time I experienced an instructor who was off the bike the entire class (Stacey and Rique are never on the bike).  As a beginner, I thought this was kind of weird and that I didn’t get the full Melanie experience.  What I did learn from Stacey and Rique is that even if the instructor is off-bike, they can still be engaging and easy to follow.  I found Melanie to be insightful and enjoyable, but I didn’t leave her class dying to schlep uptown just to see her. 
  13.  Bea Del Rosario:  I took my first SoulSurvivor (60 minute class) with Bea when I was visiting my parents near Roslyn.  The feel of the whole place was different, it was also Super Bowl Sunday at 5pm – so most normal people were at home prepping for Beyonce.  On a positive note, Bea played mostly pop (she also can’t get enough of Rhianna’s Diamonds) and was good at helping people find the beat.  Unfortunately, many of her transitions were off and we would end up having to stop randomly mid-count.  There were also a few straight “recovery”, but I didn’t feel like there was anything to recover from.  Going in I was concerned about taking a 60-minute class, but unfortunately Bea just didn’t push it enough.
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Fly Wheel Texas Studio Review + Soul Cycle Match Up


(above – me and my class after our 90 minute FLY)

flywheelI finally tried out FlyWheel Stadium Cycling! We just got a studio in Dallas – Highland Park, so I went to a special 90 minute class the day after Thanksgiving. It was an “unstuffing” ride and let me tell you – “unstuff” is exactly what it did. There was not a trace of sweet potato pie, peach cobbler or turkey and dressing left in my body. The workout is super hardcore, here’s why…

  • Duration: 45 minutes (standard class)
  • Calories Burned: 500 – 700
  • Style: Indoor Cyclingflywheel torque bord
  • Cool Stuff: A“Torque Board” digitally tracks how much power you generate during your ride. Your “power” is a function of your RPMs (revolutions per minute) and resistance. During the workout, the instructor shows the class ranking on the “Torque Board” to create healthy competition. Obviously, GRIT by Brit had to represent – 1 is the loneliest number. (wink, wink – see pic of my final class results)
  • Workout Details: You go through a series of imaginary terrains, some up hill and others down hill. The music generally goes with the phase of the ride and helps keep you engaged – just like a standard indoor cycling class at your local gym. The key differentiator is that there’s a weighted bar that you pull out towards the end of the ride and use to go through an upper body toning circuit. Overall, it’s an efficient total body cardio and resistance training workout.
  • Cost: $25 per class, a little cheaper than SoulCycle

So here’s the real deal about the trade offs between SoulCycle and FlyWheel, the 2 hottest indoor cycling classes on the map. In case you missed my review of SoulCycle, you can CLICK HERE to read it. Ultimately, Soul Cycle is more FUN and FlyWheel is more FIERCE. I can’t honestly say class one is BETTER than the other, but there are distinct differences between the two that can make you prefer one over the other…

Soul Cycle vs Flyweel

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SoulCycle: Join the cult…or maybe not?

(above) Me and my girl @marissagibbons after a ‘Sick Sunday Soul Sweat’

This past Sunday I tried out  SoulCycle  at NYC – Tribeca.  The NYC studios held  a special “Soul Service” contributing all proceeds to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.  A good sweat and a good deed made an attractive combo for Sunday Fun-day. I’m gonna get straight to the point and give you guys the “hot facts” about the “Soul Movement”…

What’s all the hype about?

  • All the COOL KIDS are doing it – Move over CrossFit!  SoulCycle is the hottest AND most expensive fitness class on the street right now!   Studios are only in New York and LA and the Soul Movement is so strong that Soul Cycle was recently acquired by Equinox.  Several “A” list celebrities have joined the “cult” including but not limited to Lady Gaga and Kelly Rippa.  Being a part of the Soul Cycle cult is definitely a status symbol in NYC and LA.
  • Spin Class + FULL BODY workout – About 30 minutes into the ride, we used light hand weights conveniently placed under our saddles and started a hardcore upper body toning circuit.  SHOULDERS ON FIRE!  Also throughout the class, the instructor led several moves to engage our core. 

Why is it so expensive?

Not just expensive, but REALLY expensive!  The classes are $32 per 45 minute session making them the most expensive group fitness classes in the United States!  Here a few reason I can justify the price (in moderation):

  • Immaculate facility – Awesome brand with the SOUL CYCLE theme AND motivations slogans consistently portrayed.
  • Unique culture and fitness experience – The bikes are really close to each other and the room is pitch black lit only by candle light.  They keep the music thumpin’ so you can truly “escape” during your workout.
  • Boring instructors are NONEXISTENT – All of the instructors are highly energetic and bring a personal enthusiasm that isn’t annoying.  Very motivating leadership.
  • Supper friendly and knowledgeable staff – The front desk staff was super helpful especially since it was my first time.  They got me a pair of spinning sneakers, set up my bike and walked me around the facility


  • INSANE ENERGY!  Many of the instructors have backgrounds in acting and music so they know how to pump up a crowd and stay on beat with the music – so necessary.
  • COMMUNITY VIBE.  During the class all students moved side to side and up in down in the same direction so we look like a synchronized music video – I loved it!    Even better, I got a sweet welcome tweet before the class.  I can appreciate any club that shows GRIT by Brit some love – ya heard?


  • As a single method gym, Soul Cycle could get boring over time.  However, if you’re already a regular spin class goer, this could be a suitable alternative.
  • With the steep price, you may be likely to skip classes when money is tight.  Consistent fitness habits are crucial!
  • As a certified indoor cycling instructor I noticed that the class does NOT uphold true cycle principles and form.  If you are a hardcore cycling enthusiast, this workout will seem very superficial.
  • Cycle shoes are required.  So you either have to bring your own or pay an additional $2 to rent a pair (whoa, couldn’t they include that in the $32?)

Ultimate verdict?

I had an awesome time at my Sunday Soul Session!  I could see myself attending a class here and there when I need to change it up – maybe once every other week.  I definitely think Soul Cycle is something you should test for yourself.  If you’re a group fitness junkie, like me, you could easily be tempted to join the cult.  Even if you aren’t, at least you’ll FIT IN with the “cool kids” and maybe snag a celebrity sighting 😉

(above) My boy @caseygib after our ‘Sunday Soul Session’

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