Have you been to SoulCycle? You should go. It’s kind of like doing drugs, I would imagine (similarly bank-breaking, too). It’s also like having really transcendent sex in a sweat lodge that doubles as that club in Berlin that stays open 24/7, all weekend long, and then serves gelato on Sundays. It’s dark and the music is so loud there are earplugs available for free next to the hair ties and gum. You leave feeling high, and weak, and like you could lift a car.
The clientele, in New York and San Francisco anyway, is primarily rich-looking women with really good balayage hair and expensive workout gear. Once, at the Marina location in San Francisco, my pack (yeah, that’s right, I said it) was made up mostly of actual Lululemon employees, identical in their tight, lawsuit-inducingly see-through-spandexed blondness.
There are also the men.
Plenty of gay men, but also straight men, of the type, at least from their appearance, you would think would be too cool or too proud or too busy making money and deals and enemies to attend what is essentially a spiritual spin class in the club. You’d think there would be fewer of them, and that those few would be insufferable, like men who go to Yogaworks to take off their shirts and hit on girls, but there are actually a few distinct species of SoulCycle man, and within those species, four distinct stages of SoulCycle manhood.
Here, then, are the five straight men you meet at SoulCycle.
1. The Obedient Husband The most common of the penis-wielding SoulCyclers is the Obedient Husband. He appears early in the morning and on weekends, beside his wife but occasionally with his other husband buddies. He’s bordering on old but isn’t quite there yet, probably around 50, with grown children he had young or young children from a second marriage. The uniform of The O.H. is the kind of skin-tight, logo-covered cycling outfit you frequently see on men huffing and puffing their way down Montauk highway in the summer. I once saw an O.H. in one such outfit emblazoned with the album artwork from the Grateful Dead’s Steal Your Face. These men are very proud of the fact that they don’t have to rent cycling shoes. They tend to have a really hard time with the choreography and pedal too fast, resulting in frequent shouted reprimands from the instructor. Sometimes, however, they get over themselves, at which point these men end up instructor favorites, who get extra attention either because they’ve worked hard to get to this point, or because the lithe young instructors are watching them for signs of heart attack.
2. The Tech-Douche A relatively new addition to my totally scientific study of SoulCycle males, the tech-douche may have originated in one of the other categories but, upon the release of the Apple Watch, became his own species. Whether this is by spontaneous genetic mutation or simply by virtue of being a dick the whole time I have yet to ascertain, but man, yikes. This is the guy who bikes in the second or third row, and throughout the course of the class illuminates the room to check his vitals on his obscenely overpriced device. This guy has a hard time keeping up with the rhythm, has a harsh dad-bod and does tap-backs too forcefully, in a way that tells you just how selfish he must be in bed. This man is almost always white and over 36, but not over 45 — no longer young but not yet humble. If this man has a companion, which he sometimes does, she’ll be the kind of woman who would be accurately described as “tough as nails.” She will also be checking her wrist-EKG and the two of them will whisper obnoxiously to one another, comparing stats. Ugh I hate those people, don’t be them.
3. The McDreamy Fiancé This is the guy the Obedient Husband was before he chilled out and realized the full potential of his self-made (mostly, with a leg up from some legacies and nepotism) wealth. This is the guy with the full head of hair and the pretty fiancée, his life perfectly following the WASPy roadmap they hand out on graduation day from the Ivies. They come on Sunday mornings, late enough that you imagine they woke up, put on their just-above-knee-length athletic shorts and Stanford T-shirt and read the Wall Street Journal for a little while before coming to class, or maybe they took their pure-bred lab puppy, Theo, for a walk. They always come with their future wives, women who will one day rule the world and also tried out modeling for a little while in their late teens. These women have enormous engagement rings that I stare at like a patriarchy-brainwashed magpie and always point out to my boyfriend, like, look, look. It’s gross, but these are they people everyone wants to be, until they have kids.
4. The Dad This is the in-between-stage man — the puppy has grown older and his fiancée-turned-wife stopped wearing that big engagement ring while she was pregnant with their kids, but now things have started to slow down a little, and he digs his life. This guy has a burgeoning dad-bod, and he’s OK with that. He shows up with his waify teenage daughter — the girl who might take a year off school to try out modeling, or get an athletic scholarship, or have “issues” — and they sit in the front row of the sidebar, sweating and smiling together. Instructors love both of them, the young and the old, but they love the dad the most.
5. The Sensitive Jock Boyfriend This is the youngest of the straight men — a guy in his 30s who tried the class on a whim, probably at the urging of his girlfriend, and became hooked despite himself. The kind of guy who is high-achieving at work because he was high-achieving at school, who played varsity sports and goes to music festivals. He might do recreational drugs occasionally but not really, and his friends all describe him as “fun.” He looks at the other men in the class and sees a different kind of man entirely, because he’ll never be like that, right? He and his girlfriend do one class a week, maybe more if they’re feeling spendy, because they’re not yet rich but are close and just learned about “saving” for the “future.” This man could become any of the men listed before him, and he sees them, knowing this. He sees his girlfriend seeing the engagement rings on the McDreamy Fiancé’s partner’s hand, watches the Obedient Husband’s slightly embarrassing self-possession, thinks, Maybe the Apple Watch isn’t that lame. The idea of having a teenage daughter terrifies him. His life flashes before his eyes every time he clips in. But once that bass hits and the instructor commands he do his first set of tap-backs, nothing matters but the moment, man.