Equinox and SoulCycle face boycott over investor’s Trump fundraiser
SoulCycle says it does not support fundraiser by Stephen Ross, chair of company that owns Equinox
Customers of the fitness companies Equinox and SoulCycle are calling for a boycott of the trendy brands after news that a high-profile billionaire investor will be hosting a fundraising event for Donald Trump in the Hamptons on Friday.
Tickets for the event cost $100,000 for lunch and a photo opportunity with the president and $250,000 for a package that includes a roundtable discussion with Trump.
Ross, who is also the owner of the NFL team the Miami Dolphins, is the chairman of Related, the company that owns Equinox Fitness, the upmarket gym chain, and other fitness brands.
Equinox has a 97% stake in SoulCycle, which it acquired in 2011, the boutique fitness brand that just expanded from the US to the UK and has an A-list following for its pricey classes that combine stationary cycling with motivational pep talks from fashionable instructors, in rooms lit only with candles and booming au courant playlists from high-class music equipment.
In response to the social media backlash against the event, SoulCycle released a statement addressed “To Our Soul Family” from its CEO, Melanie Whelan. Whelan said the cycling company has “nothing to do with the event and does not support it”.
“We’re committed to all our riders and the communities we live in. Mr Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of SoulCycle.”
A note from our CEO pic.twitter.com/UwxBWR76B0
— SoulCycle (@soulcycle) August 7, 2019
The statement echoed a joint statement released by Equinox and SoulCycle on Wednesday.
But Twitter users were quick to assert that Ross was more than a “passive investor” of the companies, furthering calls to quit SoulCycle and Equinox.
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) August 7, 2019
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) August 7, 2019
Celebrities joined in on the chorus of boycotters voicing their anger with the news.
Just contacted @Equinox to cancel my membership after many years. Money talks, especially with these monsters. If it’s too inconvenient for u to trade one LUXURY GYM for another, then you should be ashamed. (No disrespect to the many wonderful employees at my local Equinox). Bye!
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) August 7, 2019
“The gym is my personal hell but if you’re a member of Equinox perhaps it is time to say peace(out)-inox ayyyyy I’m still sick yes but fuck equinox,” wrotethe model and TV host Chrissy Teigen on Twitter. “Oh and fuck soulcycle but I thought that way before this anyhow.”
“Welp. Buh-bye @soulcycle. Won’t miss ya!” tweeted the actress Sophia Bush.
SoulCycle has a cult following and is primarily located in the United States’ largest cities, which vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The company itself has tried to tout its liberal values, hosting LGBTQ Pride-themed “rides” and playlists during Pride Month this past June. Figures including Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey have said they are fans of the company.
Though Ross didn’t explicitly endorse Trump as president during his 2016 campaign – the billionaire held a fundraiser for the failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush at his Palm Beach mansion in January that year – he seemed to be impressed with the president’s skills as a “promoter” during the election.
In a Bloomberg interview in February 2016, Ross said of Trump: “He’s great. He makes people feel good about themselves. If you’re spending time with Donald alone, you can not not like Donald.”