Fitness classes that can rock your body

It's hard not to smile when the whole class is in sync, twisting side to side and drumming to the beat.

The moves get your heart rate up but don't require much in the way of choreography. And they aren't so challenging that a beginner couldn't do a modified version, such as a higher squat or lunge.

As with other music-focused workouts, it can be hard to hear cues over the pumping bass, but the instructors do give a brief instruction on form before each interval and some advice on easier modifications.


(8750 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood)

At 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, it's hard to find a party, even in Los Angeles. But there's one going on at SoulCycle.

Inside its glossy new West Hollywood studio, a youngish crowd of fitness buffs lines up for this New York transplant's brand of spinning that incorporates hand weights and movement to give riders a total body workout with a house party feel.

Once the music starts and riders are clipped in, the lights go down — save for a handful of candles and a few lights over the instructor. Loud music and tight spacing between the bikes gives the small studio a club-like atmosphere with cyclists moving up and back in unison, save for the occasional whoop or fist pump from the regulars.

The studio's team of model/actor-type instructors, such as Ben B. (Bruker), are part DJ and part coach, dishing out motivation and the latest unreleased song from Usher as they take the packed class through an intense 45-minute ride that includes double-time tricep pushups on the handlebars and too many up-and-down sprint reps out of the seat to count. And if that weren't enough, there's a short weight segment with biceps, triceps and shoulder exercises, before a final cardio push.

It's a high-intensity class from the get-go. It's not easy on the knees, it's hard to keep proper form doing the upper-body weights and abdominal twisting while pedaling, and it can be hard to hear the coaching on form over the music.

Indeed, some in the fitness business have raised questions about the safety and efficacy of SoulCycle's multi-tasking workout. However, SoulCycle says its workout was developed in part by exercise physiologists and its instructors are indoor cycling certified, in addition to completing SoulCycle's 12-week accreditation course.

For its die-hard fans, there is no substitute. It's about as close as you can get to a party on a bike — if you can keep up.

Clip-on shoes are mandatory and are available for rent at the front desk.