Update: Both Equinox and Soul Cycle have both responded to the backlash against Stephen Ross's upcoming fundraiser with heartfelt statements on Instagram.
Both statements call Stephen Ross a "passive investor" who is "not involved in the management of either business".
These statements however, seem to have done little to alleviate the hurt felt by longtime fans. "The problem is that he’s profiting hugely off of the money we all spend at SoulCycle. And that money is going to support Trump and his cronies. I love SoulCycle, have been riding for 9 years, but I’m really torn and confused about what to do with this information. I know you as a company don’t support his rhetoric and I do appreciate that, but how can we reconcile that our money is in some way going to this man?" said one commenter on the SoulCycle post,
Others were more direct. "This is actually gaslighting and makes riders feel like they don't know anything about business. a passive investor is an INVESTOR, money is MONEY."
Over on the Equinox post, backlash was just as forthcoming. "As a member for almost 5 years, I am basically a passive investor in Equinox. As such I chose today to cancel my membership because I will not support a company that in ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM is associated with ANYONE who supports the racist and toxic rhetoric of Donald Trump."
This story was originally published at 9am 8/8/19
The man behind SoulCycle and Equinox is planning a bougie, expensive fundraiser for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in the Hamptons this weekend. And, as you can imagine: People. Are. Pissed. Off.
Stephen Ross, chairman and founder of Related Companies, which is responsible for Equinox Fitness Clubs (which owns Equinox and SoulCycle), is hosting a soiree for Trump where people will pay $250,000 (£205,475) to partake in a “roundtable discussion” with him or $100,000 (£82,000) for lunch and a photo op with the president, The Washington Post reported Tuesday night.
Ross is the owner or developer of several well-known staples such as the Time Warner Center, Pure Yoga, and Blink Fitness — but it’s the members of the seemingly forward-thinking fitness chains Equinox and SoulCycle who are feeling especially indignant. Both chains seem to promote values that would appeal to more liberal-leaning folks. Fast Company pointed out that the companies both celebrate pride month, and give to charities such as House Lives Matter, which helps marginalised gender and sexual minorities.
I am a freak who loves @soulcycle. it genuinely makes me feel good and excited about my body and my health. that being said, the loser owner supports trump and I didn’t know that! so I will no longer take classes there. sharing bc I had no idea & maybe u didn’t either! fuck that.— Mitra Jouhari (@tweetrajouhari) August 7, 2019
People are finding the news soul-crushing, for lack of a better word. The editor of The Advocate reported that sources at an L.A. Equinox said that the front desks were getting a number of phone calls from gym-goers who want to cancel their memberships.
NBC News political analyst Elise Jordan noted that a boycott by women would completely “crush” SoulCycle’s business, which stereotypically comes from women in cities who can pay $34 (£27) per class along with an additional cost for shoe rentals. SoulCycle opened its inaugural London studio in June. (Read our review here)
A boycott by women would crush @soulcycle’s business. https://t.co/208rgUS5gQ— Elise Jordan (@Elise_Jordan) August 7, 2019
Some people are pointing out that the former first lady Michelle Obama was a known fan of SoulCycle, and feeling like this move from Ross is an utter betrayal. (In 2016, a story was published that said Obama came to a class with her Secret Service detail.)
A spokesperson for Equinox told Refinery29: "Neither Equinox nor SoulCycle have anything to do with the event later this week and do not support it. As is consistent with our policies, no company profits are used to fund politicians. We are committed to all our members and the communities we live in. We believe in tolerance and equality, and will always stay true to those values. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of either business.”
Still, people are irate, and no matter how you spin it, it’s clear this news is bad for business.
The note I just sent @soulcycle after reading its parent company’s CEO is hosting a fundraiser for @realDonaldTrump: pic.twitter.com/LKEcRqS8HD— JackiSchechner (@JackiSchechner) August 7, 2019