The Sports Bra Challenge revs up for a bigger, splashier second year

This year's take-your-top-off body-positive fundraiser has bigger goals, more support from the fitness scene, and lots of options for the next generation.
Sports Bra Challenge 2012
Riders show some skin during last year’s Sports Bra Challenge.

At 9:00 pm on Friday night, SoulCycle’s Union Square studio was packed with sweaty 20-something women all wearing bright, matching tanks, with glow sticks hanging from every set of handlebars. “I’ve never seen so many beautiful, powerful women before!” shouted instructor Jenny Gaither.

The class was the official kickoff event for The SEAK Foundation’s The Sports Bra Challenge, which will take place for the second time on April 14 in Union Square. Last year, the event, which promotes body confidence by encouraging riders to strip down to their sports bras, raised $110,000 for self-esteem building after-school programs.

This year, its founders—Gaither, Jocelyn Levy, and Kelly Hurley—are aiming even higher: Their goal is to raise $500,000, and they’re involving even more of the New York City fitness community to get there.

Leading up to the event, Barry’s Bootcamp and Physique 57 will both be offering special fundraising classes, and Fitist is hosting a six-week studio crawl that includes one class each week at studios like Pilates Proworks, I.AM.YOU Yoga, and Body Conceptions by Mahri.

SEAK Foundation
SEAK’s founders at the kickoff event: Kelly Hurley, Jenny Gaither, and Jocelyn Levy.

The event itself will once again feature two SoulCycle classes (one taught by Stacey and Melanie Griffith, one with Gaither and Ayana Curtis), but will also include more classes and activities for kids, including a class taught by Stacey Griffith called Grif!t and “Kid-Zone” activities provided by the Upper East Side’s Exceed Fitness.

“Since the event is on a Sunday, we wanted to make it a family day,” Jocelyn Levy explains. “Lack of confidence begins at a young age, so we wanted to start getting kids to truly love fitness and the experience of fitness.”

Other sponsors that will be represented at the event include New Balance, Soft Serve Fruit Co., Exhale Spa, Zico, and Kind.

With all of the additional support, the event seems like it’s on track to reach its lofty goals. But, Gaither emphasized at the kickoff, it’s not just about the charitable donation you make to reserve a bike; it’s about tackling your own body image issues, too. “It all started with my insecurity,” she said, during the kickoff class. “There’s no requirement to take your shirt off. But if you’re terrified, you should a thousand percent do it!” —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information or to sign up for the ride on April 14, visit

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