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In the War for SoulCycle's Front Row Bikes, Nobody Wins

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Photo: <a href="http://wellandgood.com/2013/05/06/soulcycle-hints-at-a-major-digital-debut-this-summer/">Well + Good</a>
Photo: Well + Good

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What, you think you can just reserve a front row SoulCycle bike online? Oh. Wait. You can. But, much like sitting in the exit row of an airplane, riding front and center at spin class comes with its own set of responsibilities: namely, being the object of your classmates' bloodlust, the New York Times reports. "When there's people in front of me, it gets in the way of my workout," one SoulCycle devotee told the paper. "I won't ride if I don't get the front row." Another added: "When the person in front of you is off, you have to be a meditative guru not to be bothered by it."

In case you think the instructors are above pitting their students against each other, front row elitism is actually one of SoulCycle's core tenets. Rule number five states, "There is a direct correlation between your energy and your neighbor's ride. If you want to do your own thing, please don't ride in the front row." Novices are often shamed into moving to the back bikes by SoulCycle instructors who have gone mad with power, and Tracy Flick types are called upon to fill their empty seats.

One rider recalled the moment she was chosen by fate a dude wearing spandex shorts to tap it back in a coveted front row bike: "I remember seeing the front-desk staff confer with the instructor, and he glanced over at me and then looked back at them and nodded…I kept looking at myself in the mirror during class, thinking, 'I feel strong and beautiful.'"

At what price, glory? $34 per class, plus $54 for a SoulCyle-branded tank top emblazoned with the words "Front Row"—the human equivalent of a poison dart frog's brightly colored markings, warning others to stay away.

· How Much You'd Save Using Every Cycling Studio's Intro Special [Racked NY]
· A Race to the Front Row [NYT]