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SEEN from the street, the cycling studio at SoulCycle, at Third Avenue and 83rd Street, is a gleaming white glass box — said to be inspired by London’s White Cube gallery. “The corner buzzes for us,” said Julie Rice, an owner.
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Emily Berl for The New York Times
Felice Schnoll-Sussman for a class at SoulCycle.
The energy inside is palpable: sweaty and competitive. There is no talking. No cellphones. It’s about the music, the spinning flywheels and the discipline.
The race begins each Monday at noon, when online reservations open for the coming week’s quad-burning workouts. The bikes in the most dynamic instructors’ classes are often all booked within an hour.
“It is impossible to get into some of the hot classes taught by the best teachers,” said Richard Wagman, a real estate developer in his 40s who joked that his strategy “involves three super computers registering at noon on Mondays.”
Others pay a premium to get ahead of the masses. The price of each session normally is $32. It drops a little when 10, 20 or 30 sessions are bought at once. But a 50-class series does not come with a discount. In fact, the cost, $3,000, works out to $60 a class. The package comes with the privilege to sign up weeks early for spots and even to request a bike in the front row — a chance to lead the pack of racers.
A hard-core group of regulars fill many of the slots, and beginners are welcome, though it can be difficult to keep up. The sessions mix serious pedaling with an upper-body workout for a maximum calorie burn; the workout is beloved for being efficient and fun.
The studio offers 7 to 10 classes a day, seven days a week, and about 2,000 people spin through each week, Ms. Rice said.
SoulCycle has three branches in Manhattan and one each in Scarsdale and Bridgehampton, N.Y. (A branch in Miami Beach is to open this month, and two more locations in Manhattan are to open early next year.)
Before entering the steaming, windowless studio at the Upper East Side branch, students stuff gear into small lockers and try to sidestep the sweaty cyclists leaving the previous session. Those finished with their workouts often grab their sweatshirts, jackets and shoes and change outside on Third Avenue.
In the studio, the bikes are crammed so tightly that riders in racing position can practically lick the Lululemon logo on the seat of the pants of the person directly in front of them.
“We ride close together so we can feel and feed on each other’s energy,” the SoulCycle Web site says. “That being said, your neighbor does not want to feed off your odor.”
One Sunday night, 48 riders packed into Daniel Wiener’s class, which had a fun old-school mix of Journey, Bonnie Tyler, Run-D.M.C. and Salt-n-Pepa playing. Middle schoolers perched on bikes next to their parents. Teenagers twisted their long hair into top knots, adorned with SoulCycle bandanas. Middle-aged women strapped on heart monitors and peeled off shirts to reveal skimpy sports bras and SoulCycle-cut abs.
The lights were dimmed, and Don Henley boomed:
Nobody on the road,
Nobody on the beach,
I feel it in the air,
The summer’s out of reach.
The workout was brutal: double-time and relentless. Perfectly suited to its neighborhood.
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