Last spring I read an article in Inc. Magazine about the success of SoulCycle. I had never heard of SoulCycle but I was intrigued on how 2 woman could re-invent spinning after it had already infiltrated most gyms 10 years earlier. I started researching the company and the more I read about them the more I became obsessed with their success. Coincidentally, a girlfriend of mine who lives in San Francisco mentioned to me this summer that she is a SoulCycle addict, so my obsession doubled with her testimonial.
SoulCycle charges between $28 and $34 dollars for one 45 minute class and unlimited class memberships are not available. In New York you can pay $60 and book a day ahead of everyone else, as so many classes sell out within an hour. So I needed to find out what do they do differently when so many full service gyms are having a tough time charging $40/month for unlimited access which includes spinning, aerobics and yoga.
As luck would have it I was going to Chicago with my husband and they just opened up a SoulCycle close to our hotel, so I signed us up for a Friday afternoon class. Right from the first inquiry phone call to the smooth and efficient sign in process I could already see why these ladies are so successful. The lockers are in a funky communal area for both men and women and each locker is like a hotel safe where you program in 4 digits each time you come so no locks required. I opened up the locker and there it was a stroke of brilliance, a charging station for your smart phone built right into each locker.
We put on our rented spinning shoes(actually free for first timers and not creepy gross like rented bowling shoes) and then walked into the dimly lit studio where a fresh towel lay on every bike. We found the bikes we signed up for and an instructor came right to us and helped measure out our bike height and showed us how to clip in. We started the class right on time, the signature grapefruit candles were lit, the lights went off, the music was cranked and we began our journey.
The class did not disappoint, it was a full body workout that not only worked your legs but your abs and arms as well, close to the end of class you grab the free weights on the back of your bike and do some killer arms while still pedaling. When the class was done we were exhausted but exhilarated, the 45 minutes flew by and we were both a bit sad when it was over. The instructor blew out the candles, turned down the music and we did a bit of stretching, then right at 4:45pm the doors opened and outside the class were another 70 SoulCycle addicts waiting for the 5pm spin, but before they can enter a team of staff quickly sanitizes each bike and reloads the fresh towels.
What I love most about SoulCycle’s success is the fact that these ladies took the established business of spinning, changed it up and made it better.
I love that they pay their instructors on a sliding scale based on average class attendance, I love their clean branding which was so well executed in their studio and most of all I love the fact the experience exceeded my expectations.
These ladies have proven to me that you can start a business with tons of players already established, hire great people, change the way business is done, listen to your clients and then reap the rewards of being an industry leader (and then maybe just maybe 9 years after launching the business file for a $100 million IPO as they just did in July).