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SoulCycle’s IPO means boutique fitness is just going to keep getting bigger


Photo: SoulCycle

SoulCycle IPOFitness and finance came together in a big, buzzy way last week when the boutique workout brand-of-brands SoulCycle officially filed for an IPO (Initial Public Offering).

The registration form filed with the SEC included some interesting facts about the yellow-bike business, i.e. 81,000 classes and 2.9 million rides in 2014, with $112 million in revenue.

And there were some entertaining descriptions of the brand that you may not expect to find in a business context, i.e. “SoulCycle isn’t in the business of changing bodies: it’s in the business of changing lives.”  “…at SoulCycle, ANYONE can be an Athlete, a Legend, a Warrior, a Renegade or a Rockstar.”

More reading: 20 post-workout snacks SoulCycle instructors love

And while the IPO signals huge things ahead for Soul, boutique fitness investment banker extraordinaire Aarti Kapoor says the move is even bigger news for the industry as a whole. “It’s a nice stamp of approval for the boutique fitness industry in terms of longevity and viability,” she explains.

What does all of this mean for you?

A whole lot of Soul

What it means for current fans of Soul (and all those yet to be christened in sweat, to Brittany beats, wearing Skull-emblazoned tanks) is, essentially, way more bike push-ups and tap-backs. “It’s a growth play,” Kapoor explains.

The IPO registration says the long-term plan is “to grow our current SoulCycle domestic footprint to at least 250 studios,” at a rate of about 10 to 15 new studios per year across the country, and also potentially expanding outside of the U.S. (London? Toronto? Dubai?)

More reading: Your cheat sheet to SoulCycle’s 8 summer openings

They also plan to attract new riders and increase the “frequency of rides” among current fans, grow the community via social media and charitable endeavors, and continue to expand the many brand extension elements like the extensive fashion collection that Soul debuts monthly and digital platforms.

Paving the way

And as they do all that, whether they like it or not, Soul will be charting a new path for boutique fitness brands that may want to follow. They’re the first in the category to file for an IPO, and even in the broader fitness world it’s uncommon. (Town Sports International, which owns New York Sports Club and BFX, is currently the only publicly traded gym, although Planet Fitness has said it will join them soon.)

“There were a lot of questions around the market that are now being answered. Was [spinning] a fad? Could people compete? Is this really scalable or just something that’s confined to NYC and LA?,” Kapoor says. “The SoulCycle IPO signifies a broader consumer retail shift towards specialized, best-in-class, niche concepts. This shows that the right branding, content, and community is extremely powerful and can really pervade multiple markets. This is not just a fad.” —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit www.soul-cycle.com

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