One by one, I have watched my friends succumb to the sweaty grasp of SoulCycle: a fitness phenomenon that has been compared to a cult. The indoor cycling chain launched in New York in 2006; in the intervening decade it has grown exponentially, gone public and spawned a devoted, influential following. Michelle Obama recently revealed that she is a fan. So is Hillary Clinton; indeed, Chelsea Clinton recently held a SoulCycle election fundraiser for her mum. Other high-profile devotees include Oprah, Lady Gaga, Lena Dunham and the Beckhams, and it has been parodied everywhere from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Mistress America.

The possibility of having a celeb sweating it out on a bike next to you is one reason why people are prepared to pay $34 (£24) for a 45-minute SoulCycle class. This is a lot to spend on pedalling a stationary bike in the dark. But, according to SoulCycle’s devotees, the class’s combination of therapy and fitness is just so, so worth it. “You dance on a bike with all these beautiful people around you,” a friend raves. “And gorgeous instructors tell you inspirational messages about how you just need to be you because you are good enough.”

My own experience left me poorer in money, but a little richer in wisdom. As SoulCycle gears up for a long-awaited London launch, I will share this wisdom with you.

1 Book fast

It is very hard to get a place in a SoulCycle class; spaces sell out at super-speed. Remember, you may be paying them money, but the privilege is all yours, apparently.

2 Exhale your expectations

SoulCycle studios are covered with slogans such as: “We aspire to inspire. We inhale intention and exhale expectation.” Before the class starts, there will be lots of attractive people inhaling intentions while looking around to see if there is anyone famous in the class. Most of the time, there is not.

3 Buy some soul

At my first class, I am the only person not wearing SoulCycle-branded clothing. Everyone else has $64 (£44) tanktops with such things as “Find your soul” on them. Meanwhile, my soul is obscured behind an old T-shirt. “Oh yeah,” says my friend, looking at me pityingly. “You should have bought the gear.” Then the music starts; it is dark, there are candles. We start pedalling madly as the instructor shouts: “It’s OK to be you!”; “You are strong and beautiful!” The room is hot and I feel kind of high; everything seems possible. Except, dammit, I should have bought some Soul gear.

4 Remember, the hype cycle will end

SoulCycle is fun if you have a lot of disposable income that you don’t mind disposing of very quickly. But, like most fitness fads, SoulCycle will likely run its course. And anyway, there are always Boris bikes.

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