Malibu SoulCycle seeks to recruit Pepperdine students

Pepperdine alumni enjoy a time of bonding at Malibu SoulCycle. (Photo courtesy of Madelynn Perry)

Some Pepperdine students have found a way to get their daily exercise and socialize right down the street.

SoulCycle, a popular boutique indoor spinning class, has been targeting Pepperdine University students since their grand opening in 2014. Many on-campus organizations, such as the Guatemala Project Serve team, Pepperdine Alumni Association and Pepperdine Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, have partnered with SoulCycle for events.

“The one time I did go it was a really good time,” said Zachary Chen, senior finance major and member of the Guatemala Project Serve team. “I got to be with all my friends and even though we were exercising together, it didn’t feel like a chore and it was a bonding experience that I felt would appeal to other Pepperdine students.”

What makes SoulCycle unique?

Spinning is the term used to describe stationary, indoor cycling, said Stephanie Cooper, adjunct professor of sports medicine in the Natural Science Division.

“The group environment of spinning classes is very exciting to me,” Cooper said. “It gets a large group of people together with one main purpose of sweating and expending calories through one unified sport.”

Because of the growing popularity of the sport, numerous boutiques and gyms are offering spin classes. SoulCycle is a full-body indoor cycling workout that allows students to ride to the beat of music while incorporating upper body exercises into their workout, according to the website.

“SoulCycle is completely different than any other workout I’ve ever tried,” said Cristina Ray, manager at SoulCycle Malibu. “Even though I’ve had no experience in an indoor spin class, SoulCycle pulled together so many different things and it made it an experience.”

Exterior of Malibu SoulCycle, showcasing the specialized bikes used in the classes. (Photo by Gina Myung)
Exterior of Malibu SoulCycle, showcasing the specialized bikes used in the classes. (Photo by Gina Myung)

SoulCycle Malibu has actively marketed itself toward Pepperdine students, faculty and staff.

Christina Lasorda, senior integrated marketing communication major and Pepperdine brand ambassador for SoulCycle, reached out to the Religion and Philosophy Division at Pepperdine University in an email describing the brand, including an offer of a complimentary group ride at the Malibu studio.

SoulCycle offered a special fee of $25 per person to Pepperdine students who signed up with the Guatemala Project Serve Team, Chen said, in turn helping them raise about $1,250 for their trip.

SoulCycle uses college ambassadors like Lasorda to promote the brand at Pepperdine.

Lasorda, also a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, said she enjoyed the experience of enriching her relationships with her sorority sisters through SoulCycle, and wanted to be a part of reaching out to the campus to allow others to experience it for themselves.

SoulCycle administrators have not followed up requests for further interviews.

Why do Pepperdine students like SoulCycle?

SoulCycle and College | Piktochart Infographic Editor

Source: SoulCycle and College

“I try to go to SoulCycle every week because it keeps me fit and it’s fun,” said freshman psychology major Samantha Wong. “I go with my friends, and the music and atmosphere keeps me from getting bored.”

Compared to a traditional spin class that focuses on cycling alone, SoulCycle appeals to those who want additional entertainment.

“Someone who feels like they need to be entertained while they work out will love SoulCycle,” Cooper said, who also specializes in exercise psychology.

SoulCycle reminds its riders that exercise does not just have to be about breaking a sweat.

“I think the aspect of music and dancing and being with your friends while exercising is something that might attract people,” sophomore chemistry major Allison Yang said. “It’s something that I would do with a friend and it’s accessible because it’s close by.”
Many agreed that the most exciting thing about SoulCycle was its engaging atmosphere.

“It’s a different atmosphere,” said Nicole Tjakralaksana, senior nutrition major and Pepperdine indoor cycling trainer. “I didn’t feel like I was working out.”

What are the health benefits of spinning?

A Pepp Post poll of 66 Pepperdine students found that the No. 1 reason for participating in SoulCycle was to stay in shape.

“I’ve been doing spinning for a while now, mostly to keep fit and I love it,” said Lauren Griffin, junior international studies major and fitness monitor for Pepperdine Campus Recreation’s Cycle and Core class.

There are two main benefits of cycling and spinning — an increase in aerobic capacity and a positive change in body composition, Cooper said.

“It helps your heart grow bigger so that it can pump out more blood, it slows down your heart rate, it builds more blood vessels inside the muscles, and it increases your blood volume,” said Jeffrey L. Jasperse, professor of Sports Medicine at Pepperdine University. “There are all kinds of physiology changes, all of which help prevent cardiovascular disease, obesity and high blood pressure.”

As long as spinning is coupled with a good diet, cyclists should see a decrease in body fat and and an increase in muscle mass, Cooper said.

Coming in a close second to staying in shape, 38 percent of respondents wanted to participate in SoulCycle solely to lose weight.

“You have to remember that cycle classes are only an hour out of 24,” Cooper said. “I have no idea what people do in the other 23 hours, so if they’re not eating a good diet, then ultimately they aren’t going to see the results they want to see.”

Traditionally, the American Heart Association recommends getting at least 30-40 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day, three to five times per week, Jasperse said.

However, new data shows that the same benefits result even from very brief, high-intensity exercise, if done regularly, Jasperse said.

What are the possible downsides of SoulCycle?

Although there are many benefits of cycling, SoulCycle poses possible problems with their implementation of dance moves and weight lifting while spinning.

“There is not research out there looking at the long-term effects of doing those kind of movements while cycling, which is kind of scary,” Cooper said.

In this aspect, SoulCycle failed to meet the standards of some consumers.

“I’m not a fan of SoulCycle,” said Monica Howeling, Cycle and Core instructor at Pepperdine Campus Recreation. “I don’t believe in all the excess things like the music and the dancing. I always tell my students, ‘When you come in, it’s you and the bike.”

Pepperdine students at the Tuesday morning Pepperdine Campus Recreation Cycle and Core class. (Photo by Gina Myung)
Pepperdine students at the Tuesday morning Pepperdine Campus Recreation Cycle and Core class. (Photo by Gina Myung)

SoulCycle is also an expensive route for spinning. The price of one class at Pepperdine Campus Recreation is $5, compared to $30 at SoulCycle. Monthly options are also available with Pepperdine Campus Recreation offering unlimited classes for $25, compared to the class-by-class price system SoulCycle offers, costing a whopping $145 for five classes, according to the respective websites.

“I’m going to use my money to invest in a sport that I’m passionate about, not for a one-hour session class that I may or may not continue,” Chen said. “I think SoulCycle is a very Malibu thing.”

The Pepp Post poll found that 76 percent of respondents were unwilling to participate in SoulCycle because of the cost.

“I think I would be willing to try it out,” said Mina Kim, a sophomore public relations major. “But I don’t know how committed I would be to it because it is pretty pricey and time consuming.”

SoulCycle and its boom largely depends on the posh nature of the brand and the surrounding community at Pepperdine University, Chen said.

Because each individual has their own exercise preferences, it is important to try out different activities.

“As long as people are moving, that’s what’s important,” Howeling said.

Gina Myung completed this story in Dr. Christina Littlefield’s spring 2016 Jour 241 class.