SoulCycle is a fitness company that offers high-energy indoor cycling and spinning workout classes that are popular in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It boasts tens of thousands of riders a week who gather “Monday at noon” or whenever else SoulCycle classes are held. Obvious from its name, SoulCycle plays on religious themes, and it’s attracting a religious-like following. Is SoulCycle something that Christians should participate in or avoid?
On their website, SoulCycle describes itself as “more than just a workout. It’s a sanctuary.” SoulCycle creates a sacred-space environment promising to leave riders with more than just a good workout. Many who seek meaning, community, and ritual apart from religion have embraced SoulCycle as a hobby and, even more, as a way to reach their full potential in life. SoulCycle’s workouts incorporate elements of a religious experience, such as candle-lit rooms, but the focus is on the god of self. Each rider is the focus of his or her own workout, and each rider determines the personal benefit of SoulCycle.
The tag line for SoulCycle is “Move your body. Take your journey. Find your soul.” Even SoulCycle’s marketing focus is on you, you, you. Working out is a good way to take care of the body God has given us, but SoulCycle promises something more. SoulCycle promises their workout will help us find our soul, but the soul is not something to be “found” like a passion or one’s voice.
The Bible refers to people as “souls” (Psalm 16:9–10; Ezekiel 18:4; Acts 2:41; Revelation 18:13). What we need is not “finding” but saving. “Souls” who reject God’s Son are condemned to pay for their own sin in hell for eternity (Romans 6:23), but those who acknowledge their own sinfulness and accept God’s gracious gift of salvation find forgiveness and peace from the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). The SoulCycle promise to help you find your soul can only leave your soul longing for more.
With its intentionally religious overtones and marketing, SoulCycle promises something it cannot deliver. A high-energy, communal experience that focuses on the self is still as empty as any religious experience that does not save one’s soul. While believers should care for their bodies, they should also be discerning. There are many things in this world that can lead a soul astray. We must walk with the Shepherd who truly refreshes our souls (Psalm 23:2).