Spin Class Just Got Political: Why Boycotting SoulCycle is Counterproductive

by The Cowl Editor on August 29, 2019


Exercise classes like spin, in which everyone participates at the same time, foster a sense of community. Nicholas Crenshaw ’20 / The Cowl.

by Emily Ball ’22

Opinion Staff

Exercising is the time where people are 100 percent focused on themselves and working to improve their well-being. Whether one prefers a long run, a class taught by an instructor, or a trip to the gym, exercising is a way to form a supportive community with other people. 

SoulCycle is a well-known community that unites people of all different backgrounds and values in a common love for exercise and inclusion. For this reason, many people are especially upset that one of SoulCycle’s investors, Stephen Ross, hosted a fundraiser campaigning for President Trump’s reelection. Now, people are choosing to boycott SoulCycle and Equinox, companies in which Ross is an investor.

However, boycotting SoulCycle is not an effective solution because, in reality, Ross does not oversee the function of the business, and the studios and company executives have never explicitly shown support for Trump. Instead, they promote inclusivity and openness, which are ideals that Trump is not known to promote. 

The main supporters of this boycott believe that taking classes at SoulCycle and Equinox is an endorsement of Ross’s political motives and approving of SoulCycle’s choice to continue a partnership with someone who has controversial ideals. 

“I’m very upset,” Evan Johnson, a New York native and SoulCycle desk attendant, said. “I feel like it goes against everything they tell people to work toward and all the values they say they promote. I think Mr. Ross should consider his constituency and the base which supports his business.” 

According to the New York Times, Stephen Ross is a chairman for the Related Companies, a real estate firm that holds major shares in both Equinox and SoulCycle. “The holding is divided among the firm’s partners, of which Mr. Ross is only one, making him a minority investor,” New York Times reporter Katherine Rosman said. 

Although Ross does hold a financial stake in both companies, he does not hold a functional stake. He is not in charge of the functionality of the businesses and his political impact is not present in the operation of the businesses. 

“SoulCycle in no way endorses the political fund-raising event being held later this week,”Melanie Whelan, the CEO of SoulCycle, said in a statement. “Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of SoulCycle.” 

Aside from Whelan’s statement detaching the company from Ross’ personal values, the company also communicates its support for diversity and inclusion in other ways.SoulCycle celebrated Pride Month this past June. The company released a line of Pride-themed retail merchandise for purchase, and they also designed downloadable Pride posters for their riders to take to the various Pride parades occurring around the nation.

SoulCycle also held an array of Pride Rides throughout the month dedicated to promoting love and inclusivity. In fact, SoulCycle offered a 10-class bundle called the “Pride Pack” which donated a portion of its proceeds to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing suicide rates within LGBTQIA+ youth. 

“Other than being the best physical workout I have ever had, SoulCycle also pushes me to become more inclusive of others and treat everyone like a team member no matter their size, shape, color, or sexuality,” Lauryn Anthony ‘22 said. 

With Ross’ lack of impact in the day-to-day functions of SoulCycle, boycotting the business would not have any direct impact on Ross’ political actions, it would only make the employees and people directly involved in the company suffer. Furthermore, boycotting SoulCycle because of Ross also means sacrificing the positivity and inclusion that SoulCycle promotes.