Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Introducing the Fitness Class Front Row Diva

Photo: SoulCycle
Photo: SoulCycle

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

For some fitness diehards, it's front row or nothing. And according to the New York Times, a spot in the front row at some boutique gyms doesn't just happen because you got there early. No, it's earned. At SoulCycle, many instructors preapprove their front rows, asking new clients if they'd like to move to the back while scanning a "move list" to see who can hack it in the front row. If no one is good enough, the staff will come in and ride front row.

One SoulCycle rider reminisced to the Times about when she first got the nod to move to the front row: "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 was so honored and excited that he recognized me as a strong rider. I kept looking at myself in the mirror during class, thinking, 'I feel strong and beautiful."

Another SoulCycle devotee told the Times that seeing people in front of her in class is a dealbreaker: "When there's people in front of me, it gets in the way of my workout. I won't ride if I don't get the front row."

But now there's a step above front row at SoulCycle. The New York Times' Courtney Rubin writes: "For those for whom the front row isn't V.I.P. enough, SoulCycle has a new badge of honor: riding the podium, a.k.a. the instructor's bike, or roughly the gym equivalent of being Courteney Cox pulled onstage to dance with Bruce Springsteen." But even if front row status is something that can't be bought, people figure out how to game the system at some gyms. Equinox members have learned that there's a better chance of getting the front row at an IntenSati class if you go to a certain Equinox location where narrower group-exercise studios have a longer front row.
· A Race to the Front Row [NYT]
· The Ultimate Guide to Workout Clothes: Lululemon and Beyond [Racked]
· What It Takes to Land a New Age Career, From Yogi to Shaman [Racked]