Soulcycle brands spinning and spirituality

Having heard about Soulcycle, a cult-phenomenon among NYC spinners, I tried out one of their classes during a recent trip. Soulcycle’s spin on spinning is to add dumbbells and dance moves to stationary biking. It operates back-to-back 45-minute classes in eleven studios around New York, three in Los Angeles, and soon will have two in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Soulcycle also incorporates watered-down spiritual messages of the type one hears in yoga classes — but unlike the typical yoga class, a Soulcycle workout is shorter, burns way more calories and includes minimal stretching. Think of it as a yoga-alternative for the Type A exerciser.

Are you ready “to soul?”

I went to Soulcycle’s West Side studio after signing up for class online. While online signups are typical for many exercise classes, Soulcycle actually had me choose a specific bike on their website. My registration was confirmed with a “Welcome to Soulcycle” message that listed my assignment to Bike #32. It also offered information about attire, hydration and Soulcycle etiquette.

Soul Etiquette - SoulCycle

Soulcycle packs in the riders

As a fan of good manners, I loved the etiquette rules — especially the part about “laundry,” since Soulcycle places their bikes as close together as possible. It’s a New York thing — people there have learned to tolerate less personal space than those of us who live in California suburbs. All the same, with 50 to 60 bikes crammed into a space about three times the size of an average living room, personal hygiene is key.

Although crowded, Soulcycle finesses their routine so that, even when you’re doing dumbbell raises, you rarely bump into the people on your left and right. For example, arm extensions are performed to the front, the rear and at 45-degree angles — but never out to the sides.

[Read more…]

Giving, getting, hoping

While Christmas shopping I came across a moisturizer called “hope in a jar.” Packaged in a cute ornament box with a tag, it was ready for giving — presumably to someone in need of hope. The manufacturer, Philosophy, sells other moisturizers with similar tongue-in-cheek names: “full of promise,” “take a deep breath,” and “keep the peace.” Philosophy twists the famous Scripture often read at weddings to state on its package, “Where there is hope there can be faith, and where there is faith miracles can occur.” While some people may take offense at this, or even at the concept that a product designed to smooth the skin is really providing hope, I take it as one company’s attempt to differentiate itself from the crowd.

Hope-in-a-Jar-ornamentGiving hope

Hope in a jar” inhabits the same category of marketing language as “Hope Peace Jewelry,” a saying I saw in a store window, or “Inner Peas,” the name of a dried peas and sea salt snack at Trader Joe’s. It continues a long tradition of optimistic product names, such as “Miracle-Gro” plant food, “Joy” dishwashing liquid, and “CoverGirl” makeup. While we take many of these items’ names for granted, examples of hope-inspiring product names abound. What about “S.O.S” steel wool pads? Steel wool addresses a need, but is a dirty pan really cause to send up an S.O.S.? (The Clorox company notes that the official product name drops the final period and actually means Save Our Saucepans . . .) And, when all is said and done, how do you “bust dust?” The one that makes me wonder, however, is “Twenty Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster and Multi-purpose Household Cleaner.” I know our clothes get dirty, but twenty mules are more than we need, and they are definitely not going to fit in my laundry room!

 Giving_Inner Peas

 

Product names like these give hints at the item’s benefits, sometimes even offer their target consumers an inside joke. With a wink and a nod, they acknowledge that, while everyone knows you can’t package “hope” or “joyful dish washing,” isn’t it witty to say that we did?

Giving benefits the giver

Yet at the same time, products called things like “hope in a jar” subtly play into desires that surface, especially around the holidays, for things to be better — for our loved ones, ourselves, the world around us. Marketers know we have such goals in mind when choosing gifts for others, even if we don’t know it ourselves. For example, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal identified, among other things, that giving another person a gift requiring great thought on your part accrues a benefit mainly to yourself as the giver, but not to the receiver. To benefit the one who’s getting the gift, it’s recommended to “give them what they want.”

 

Science_behind_Gifting_WSJ


WSJ “The Science Behind Gifting” Dec 3, 2012

 

A lot more psychology, including giving expectations and “re-gifting” norms, goes into why people give the gifts we do. (As an aside, when did “gifting” become a real word? Does every noun in American English have to become a verb? What’s wrong with “giving?”) The fact remains, however, that a lot of cash and money on credit cards flows through the economy at this time of year.

[Read more…]