Soulcycle Is Here! Calabasas and Westlake

Soulcycle has arrived in The Bubble – two new locations in Calabasas and Westlake Village allow you to “tap it back” and sweat your bottom off.

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Apparently I’ve been under a rock for a very long time, or at least successfully avoiding spin classes at all costs, because when Molly led me into my first Soulcycle class (indeed, my first ever spin class, period), she warned me that it would be “dark and loud,” but that still wasn’t enough to lessen the shock. Since I was late, I entered the class after any chance of being eased into it gently, after the warm-up, and right in the middle of the instructor’s ramp up to full speed. Basically, I was walking into a nightclub at full pulse, but the people were all dancing on stationary bikes, and there was no chance of a cocktail to take the edge off.

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Image courtesy of Soulcycle

The Obsession

Turns out, about a trillion people are completely obsessed with Soulcycle, a specially-designed indoor cycling class set in a candlelit room and led by “rockstar instructors” who shout commands and affirming mantras throughout the 45-minute workout. The music is loud, and mostly full of driving beats to accompany your pounding feet. The first studio opened in New York in 2005, and the craze has grown throughout the country. Once a studio gains a foothold in a community, you have to pounce on the computer or the smartphone app to get a spot in the most popular instructors’ classes. (Apparently at Calabasas it’s Franz, who I am told is just like the name sounds.)

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You can reserve the exact bike you want

I didn’t know about the obsession before I took my first class, which is good because I might have been more intimidated than I already was, considering I’m out of shape (always) and I abhor cardio workouts, preferring nice happy yoga and hiking. But like I’ve said before, I am always up for trying something new, especially when invited by the happiest fitness staff on earth.

Although I plunged into the experience mid-class, I managed to follow along well. Well, just okay, but I didn’t vomit or pass out or fall off the bike, which I consider a win. And you can’t really fall off the bike, because you’re clipped in on special shoes. So I would have just sort of slumped over onto the woman next to me. The bikes are very close together.

The people in this class were all invited to brunch nearby at The Six, a Calabasas restaurant that serves up delicious brunchy salads and flatbreads, even a vegan version of the delectable goat cheese avocado flatbread – both were amazing, as was the company. That’s where I learned about how popular SoulCycle is in general, and how great it’s doing in Calabasas.

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Soulcycle Calabasas’s Alyssa demonstrates how to reserve a bike using the mobile app

The Workout

Next up, I tried out the Westlake Village studio, which is new in the plaza where Le Pain Quotidien, Pitfire Pizza, and CorePower Yoga are (Lots of fitness and food options in that plaza!) at Townsgate and Westlake Boulevard. This location seems a little bigger, but maybe that’s because I got there early for a change, and I was able to check out the place and ease into the experience with my guest Michelle.

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USB charger port inside the free locker!

We were fitted with fancy clippy shoes, led to our bikes (you actually reserve a specific bike), and shown how to clip in and adjust the resistance on the bike. The resistance wheel plays an important role in the class: the instructor will often command you to “add another turn!” and “come on, Westlake, give yourself one more turn!” increasing the difficulty of your pedaling as she urges you to “pump it faster!”

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Locker hallway outside the studio, where you wait for the previous class to end

The bulk of a SoulCycle class goes on much in this way, and a lot of it is in the dark, until the music builds to a crescendo and the lights flash and illuminate some of the room, especially the instructor so you can see what she is doing. You’re either standing up pumping the pedals as hard as you can, or sitting in the seat and doing pushups on the handlebars, or pumping little hand weights along to the music. Cool down stretches are done right there on the bike, too.

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Image courtesy of Soulcycle

The Verdict

Bottom line: I loved it. Have you ever heard me say that about cardio workouts? (Spoiler: no, no you haven’t.) Despite the fact that my heart was pounding and my face was bright red (but nobody could see me so who cares?), I enjoyed the music, the life-affirming script, the fact that I was actually able to pump it for like 5 seconds at a time before giving up and resting in the seat instead of barfing (but I couldn’t actually tap it back yet, because my back is still healing from a recent tweaking).

I was able to keep up, but with lots of resting, and I learned something I will share with you: if you’re totally pumping the pedals and you need to stop, it’s NOT like riding a street bike where you can just coast. If you stop, your feet will keep going with the bike because your shoes are clipped in! So you have to slow down gradually.

After each class, I was pumped up. Yes, I got sore, especially where I sit on the bike seat, because it’s been a while since I regularly biked. But it was good sore otherwise.

The Community

If you’re the kind of person who’s always looking for a new workout, I recommend trying SoulCycle. One great side-effect of the weird obsession people get about it is the sense of community.

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The rules

I guess it’s the way I imagine CrossFit and other branded exercise phenomena to be: full of people who are obsessed with their workout because it makes them feel so good and gives them a sense of accomplishment. At my first class I ran into my friend Julee, and I didn’t realize she was in the class because it was dark. She was so excited to tell me all about her love of the spin studio because she finds great joy in riding. If that’s what SoulCycle can give you, why not join that community?

SoulCycle Calabasas
23500 Park Sorrento
Calabasas, CA 91302
Parking is underground around the back of the building – just keep right. Yes, it’s really there.

SoulCycle Westlake Village
966 S. Westlake Blvd.
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Enter from Townsgate as if you’re going to Le Pain Quotidien. It’s on the right near Pitfire.

First class is $20 and includes shoes, after that they’re $30 each plus $3 for shoe rental. Discounts apply to bulk class packages. Once you buy a class, you can reserve your bike.

I attended the classes as a guest of SoulCycle – all opinions are my own.

Command Center: a Useful Back to School Project

A new command center to catch the family’s piles of stuff when they enter your house has been my most effective Back to School organization project so far.

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This unassuming shelf holds everything.

A command center is a must-have for a family with school-aged kids. I have two boys, one starting middle school, and one in elementary school. For the past several years, they have come in the front door after school and dumped their backpacks, jackets, shoes, and socks right inside the door. Because stuff attracts more stuff, their father does it too. Not all of these all the time, and not necessarily in that order, and sometimes including extra projects or stuff they acquired on the way home from school.

This is what that area was supposed to look like:

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I love the Pier 1 bookshelf and my pretty gardening books and photos of the boys. It even had room to temporarily store things that were on the way out of the house to be returned to their lenders (which explains the pile of plates and cloth napkins).

But this is what it usually looked like:

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Let’s put all the things here! On the floor!


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Not pictured: backpacks and jackets, which spread to the kitchen table/floor/stairwell

It drove me crazy to trip over my kids’ and husband’s stuff all the time and have to see that mess when I came and went. My mission was to hide all of that stuff and create a command center! So I grabbed a kid and headed to Ikea. Naturally.

The challenge: create a family command center that holds keys, wallets, shoes, and backpacks.

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He loves coming to Ikea with me. Obvs.

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Okay maybe it’s just for the meatballs.

Originally I envisioned a mirror with hooks on the wall for hanging jackets and backpacks, with a storage unit/bench to hold shoes and serve as a seat for putting on and taking those shoes off. But Brady wanted a “cubby,” and since he and his brother would be the ones using it, I relented and got the 4-unit Kallax shelf. He wanted all 4 cubes to have doors, but I put my foot down on that one—mostly because those doors were a giant PITA to put in, but also because backpacks are bulky and tend to hang over the edge of the shelf.

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A peach Smirnoff Ice went well with this DIY project.

One afternoon of cursing and sweating was all it took to create this command center. I banished all shoes to their proper closets, unless it’s boys’ everyday shoes. Those go in the bottom cubby behind closed doors. Backpacks go in the top cubby. Husband’s wallet and keys go in the basket on the top shelf. Jackets are hung in the front hall closet on the other side of the hallway. (What? That’s not for random junk?)

After

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Look how nice and neat it is now! 


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This only works if everyone does what they’re supposed to. (Isn’t that a line from “Bad Moms?”) For example, even though they have a shiny new cubby, the boys will literally come into that door, dump their backpacks on the floor, and take off their shoes and leave them there.

Ten…nine…eight… (that’s me gritting my teeth and counting so I don’t lose my ever-loving mind).

It doesn’t happen often. Anymore. After a few too many times of losing privileges when The Cubby was not respected, the boys got on board and put their belongings in their respective places.

So, see? You too can have something as awesome and organized as this. If your family cooperates.

Kallax shelf unit – $35.99 plus rock star cursing, a Smirnoff Ice, and lots of sweating too

Kallax insert with door x 4 – $80, plus kicking yourself because you only used 2 so you just wasted $40 because you’ll never go back to Ikea in time to get your money back

So technically this setup cost a total of $75.99 plus tax and pain and suffering. You’re welcome.

This post was not sponsored by Ikea in any way. We just love it there.

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You’re Welcome in Laney’s Closet – Upscale Clothing Swap in Agoura Hills

There is a magical place tucked behind Agoura Road that is filled with frocks and trinkets and purses and shoes! It reminds me of the closet in “Heaven on 5th” in the Sex and the City movie.

Except it’s not Sarah Jessica Parker, it’s Laney Vivo, and this is her closet.

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Actually, it’s your closet too, if you become a member. Laney’s Closet is a members-only upscale clothing swap club. Laney herself welcomes you into the space by appointment. You bring your gently used fabulous clothing and accessories. She evaluates your pieces and then gives you credit based on their retail value if she thinks that another member would like to wear them.

I met Laney at the Closet’s debut event over the summer, and she invited me to come play dress-up and learn more about her business. It just so happened that I was available on my birthday, so we made it into a special, fun event. I brought my pal Michelle with me, and Michelle brought bags full of clothing and shoes to swap. She signed up for the service, got a bunch of credit, and left that day with one pair of designer jeans and a few other new-to-her pieces.

Michelle and the shoes that allow her to look 50 feet tall.

Michelle and the shoes that allow her to look 50 feet tall.

So essentially, for the price of a monthly membership ($69.95), Michelle walked away with hundreds of dollars worth of designer clothing.

I didn’t do so badly either.

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These are the outtakes. I had a hard time taking myself serious. The above left pose is my "style blogger" pose.

These are the outtakes. I had a hard time taking myself seriously. The above right pose is my “style blogger” pose.

The best part of the club membership is that Laney, who is a fashion consultant and stylist, can take one look and you and pull things out of her inventory (that she knows inside and out) that she thinks would fit and look good on you. Things that you would never even pull off the rack, or dream in a million years would flatter your body type. At all. Right before we wrapped up our visit I said “Okay, give me something crazy that I would never even try on” and she pulled out a hot little red dress.

Who knew?

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It was my birthday present. How perfect! I wore this to the Wendy Bellissimo for JCPenney sneak peek event later that week, where a professional photographer was snapping photos, and some shots wound up on the media database at Getty Images, so I’m really glad I had a lovely dress on!

Laney’s Closet
28351 Agoura Road, Suite B
Agoura Hills CA 91301
laneyscloset.com

805-390-6277