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Cerabino: SoulCycle spins into Palm Beach — but not for long


What’s worse than pedaling a stationary bicycle for 45 minutes?

Answer: Paying $40 to do it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not averse to spinning, that gym exercise of riding a stationary bike in a group-class setting, led by a motivating leader and loud, pulsing music.

I’ve even got my own spinning shoes, the ones that clip into the pedals.

It’s a great way to burn calories. And it beats getting run over on A1A by a Silver Alert escapee.

But I’m not sure I’m ready to make a religion out of it.

Which is basically something called SoulCycle, a New York-based fitness company that started 11 years ago and has spread into the tonier reaches of nine states, where it has taken a mundane form of exercise and turned it into a sweaty cult phenomenon.

This popular cycling studio plans a pop-up studio in Palm Beach

In December, Palm Beach will get a pop-up SoulCycle in Royal Poinciana Plaza for just 18 days, The Palm Beach Daily News reported. It’s part of the company’s “Destination Soul” marketing campaign, designed to give a taste of its product to areas where it isn’t available.

It’s probably a good move for SoulCycle to move gingerly into Palm Beach, which may react to the move by drafting an anti-grunting noise ordinance, or demand that among the 54 bikes in the class, a number of them have to be reserved for little dogs.

Right now, the only permanent SoulCycle studios in Florida are in Miami-Dade County, in Miami Beach and Coral Gables.

Natalie, my 27-year-old daughter who lives in New York City, likes SoulCycle classes, which use a pay-by-the-class business model rather than a membership structure.

“It’s a vibe,” she said. “Everything’s branded. It’s a boutique kind of thing and a status thing,” she said.

Status thing? OK, it might work in Palm Beach. Can people from West Palm Beach and Lake Worth be denied bikes?

“When you’re in it, the lights are dark, the music’s good and everybody wears shirts that say ‘Warrior’ or ‘SoulCycle,’” she said.

“So if I show up with my ratty sweatband and my baggy basketball shorts …” I started to say.

“No,” she said. “That’s not going to work.”

There’s clothing for sale in the studio, she said. You’ve got to look good while riding one of the yellow bikes. And there’s $42 Jonathan Adler grapefruit-scented candles burning and designer water. And your class isn’t called a “class.” It’s referred to as a “journey.”

A journey? I’m just looking to bang out some arterial plaque to Billy Joel songs. If I want a journey, I’ll try braving Costco on a Saturday afternoon.

When I work out, it’s mostly done to justify my next Reuben sandwich. I’m not looking for a spiritual breakthrough.

“It’s just a spinning class,” my daughter said, “but when you’re in it, you feel different.”

The walls have inspiring words on them. And devotees sometimes refer to the exercise as “interpretative bike dancing” that includes upper-body exercise, too. There’s choreography. Weights, too.

And you can browse the offered classes by picking your instructors, who look like underwear models, and each has his or her own inspiring motto and bio on the company website. In Miami, for example, you can pick Johanna, a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader whose motto is “Exchange fear for faith” and promises to deliver a “sweaty soulful session” and to be “your own personal cheerleader.”

Pedaling a bike that goes nowhere has never been so complicated. I can envision a future business model centered on the marketing possibilities of jumping rope.

The Palm Beach SoulCycle classes start Dec. 15 and they wrap up New Year’s Day.

I might give it a try, depending on how I look in the $68 SoulCycle muscle tank top.

“SoulCycle doesn’t just change bodies, it changes lives,” the company advertises.

I don’t doubt it. At $40 a session, it probably inspires endorphin-addicted cyclists to get higher-paying jobs.



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