SoulCycle co-founders Julie Rice (left) and Elizabeth Cutler describe their first meeting in 2006 much like the subsequent founding of their business: serendipitous. Julie had relocated to New York from Los Angeles, where she was first exposed to the indoor cycling trend, as well as the mind/body connection within cardio exercise. Elizabeth had taken up indoor cycling as a means to get back into shape after having her second child. “We met, we connected, and we totally saw eye to eye on what we thought was missing out there and what we could create,” says Cutler. “I started looking for real estate and found our first location on Craigslist.” Their progressive pay-per-class fitness model was, at first, a hard sell, but the SoulCycle community caught on quickly.
“Most fitness centers are membership businesses,” says Rice. “The main thing is getting people to join, and once they sign on the dotted line, you’re going to collect their dues whether they come to your gym or not for as long as you can until they realize they’ve been paying a monthly fee for something they don’t use for way too long. Then, it still takes them six months to figure out how to end it.” SoulCyle now runs five celeb-favored New York, Hamptons and Scarsdale locations that the founders call “fitness sanctuaries.” Classes are held in comfortable, candlelit rooms, ideal for fitting in some R&R for body, mind, and spirit.