In September, SoulCycle unleashed wild news that had nothing to do with an improved bike or a new fashion collaboration, but rather that it would officially unclip from the pedals, so to speak (well, sometimes, anyway). The recently launched SoulAnnex studio in Manhattan is now open for business, offering classes that focus on three modalities: alignment, movement, and definition (and no indoor cycling in sight).
Other than that bare-bones information, the company has been pretty mum about the whole operation, and, perhaps more intriguingly, its future implications. Recently however, SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan spoke to Vanity Fair about the groundbreaking move. Here are the most important things we learned from the interview.
CEO Melanie Whelan wants you to know these 3 things about SoulCycle and its future.
1. SoulAnnex has been in the works for a while
Even though the SoulAnnex move may have felt like it came out of the left field, Whelan says, “It’s something we’ve been talking about for well over a year.” And it only took that long due to SoulCycle’s focus on opening new indoor cycling studios across the country, she adds.
“We have been opening between 12 and 20 studios a year. There was a year where we opened a studio, I think, every week. And that has taken a lot of time, focus, and energy from the team here to expand into the 82 locations in 15 markets. Candidly, we knew that the third and fourth quarter this year were going to be quiet in terms of SoulCycle openings, and so it was the the perfect window for us [to move forward with SoulAnnex].”
2. Your workout probably includes more than spinning—and SoulCycle wants to be part of it
“The truth is, yes, you should be cross-training and moving your body in different directions,” Whelan says, adding, “A lot of riders have been with us for 10, 11 years, and so they’re looking for different challenges. We’ve been listening to our riders, whether it’s anecdotally in the lobbies of the studios…all the way to doing quantitative research.”
The decision to move away from the bikes, Whelan explained, came from the understanding that SoulCyclists were doing other workouts anyway, so she and her team were left wondering, “What are they, and what can we learn from that?”
3. An at-home bike could be coming next
“If there’s a way for us to meet our riders where they are and deliver an experience that makes them feel the way that they feel when they’re at SoulCycle or in a SoulAnnex class, then it’s something to be considered,” Whelan said.