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This Vox article about SoulCycle smells really fishy. It smells an awful awful lot like sponsored content.
For those interested in the prosecution’s case, it’s below.
The money shot first: it’s tough out there for writers and new-age media companies, and who really gives a shit about paid content if it’s clearly labeled.
This isn’t labeled.
Does Vox do this regularly? That’s part of the problem, that you have to know. Bah.
Some background before Jack McCoy starts his presentation: SoulCycle (in case you’ve never heard of a Bugaboo stroller) is a stationary bike exercise class that has a schmear of new-age sentimentality over it that apparently justifies its $30 / session price (for the lowest tier).
Take it away, Jack.
Exhibit A: Personal testimonial frame and rhetoric that is right out of “How to Write a 3am Infomercial for Dummies”
– My name is Alex, and I’m addicted to SoulCycle.
– I don’t have all the answers as to why some people are obsessed with SoulCycle [. . .] But perhaps I can shed some light on why the company is as successful as it is
– By the end of every class, I’ve left a small puddle of glistening sweat beneath my bike and my shirt is soaked through.
– It was awkward, and one-on-one training is something I have never tried again.
– It leaves me sweatier and more accomplished than any cardio I would normally do on my own.
– Anyone who tells you that vanity and the desire to look fit are not part of the reason they do SoulCycle is lying. And from a purely vain standpoint, I’m really happy with my results. But I’ve also noticed other positive effects. My endurance has increased, my resting heart rate is down, I sleep better, and when I go to the “regular” gym, I’m stronger when it comes to exercises like squats and leg presses.
I’m running out of pixels, but there’s a lot more. All of it positive, all of it reading like an F-list movie reviewer trying to get on a poster of Adam Sandler’s new movie. “I laughed, i cried, I cashed the check the producers sent me.”
Exhibit B: Really really slanted rhetorical methods
The first two links are to NYMag articles; the third is to a SoulCycle ad. A child can see that’s wrong, right?
One of the worst fitness experiences I’ve ever had is taking a “free” training session from a personal instructor at my gym.
Does the context justify the quotes around the “free”? Reader, it does not. The only reason to put them there is to denigrate the entire silly notion of taking personalized exercise instruction that isn’t from SoulCycle.
It likely won’t be long before you find an instructor whom you mesh with — whether it’s due to their teaching style, the way they push their students, their inspirational attitude, or their feelings on Rihanna’s music.
What the fahk dude Jesus you’re not even trying to hide it.
But the head shot might be the consistent denigration of the competition. Besides the above about the “training” “session” “at” “the” “gym”:
– At other places, like SoulCycle competitor Flywheel, there isn’t as much of a relationship between the music and your actions. You’re often just told to pedal fast or slow.
– And while many fitness studios and boutique gyms are forging deals with services like ClassPass (a sort of fitness class broker) to fill their empty slots, SoulCycle’s classes are as popular as ever.
No wait this is the head shot:
When people make fun of SoulCycle (I’ve made fun of it in the past), their derision is never about the actual workout.
Exhibit C: SoulCycle is so great. You exercise, on a bike!
– There are “hills” — intervals where you crank up the resistance and pedal against it — where it feels like you’re moving your legs through thick mud. There are fast sprints that will make you gulp oxygen and feel like your lungs are leaking.
– “Maybe tomorrow I can put on more resistance,” I’ve thought to myself. This is, of course, a lot easier said than done.
– Though all participants reserve a bike (signups open every Monday at noon) and choose where they sit, the rows tend to sort themselves. The newbies are usually in the back and off to the left and right. The overachievers tend to gravitate closer to the center and the front.
– Sessions are divided into sprints, hills, jogs (a medium-paced interval), and “jumps” (where you hold yourself up out of the saddle for two, four, or even eight beats at a time) — intervals that require different paces, changing beats, and varying levels of effort (sprints require bursts of energy, whereas hills require more endurance). The music acts as a skeleton plan for riders, keeping them together.
Why do this “golly there are varying resistances to this velocipede machine” routine if you’re not trying to sell the experience?
Exhibit D: There’s a big press push from SoulCycle now as they’re expanding
Someone from Style lost their SoulCycle virginity recently. AdWeek likes SoulCycle’s offices. CNBC had on SoulCycle’s CEO to talk some squawk. Something called Bustle posted a listicle. Months after her show with a SoulCycle plot point ends, Ellie Kemper’s SoulCycle love is in Shape Magazine.
And Alex Abad-Santos just chooses now to effuse about his SoulCycle love?
SoulCycle totally paid for this.