RiceCutlerPortraitArticle.jpg
Photo: William Hereford

Co-founded by Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler, SoulCycle is a trendsetter in the luxury fitness space. The company's spin (indoor cycling) classes have achieved cult status in just a few short years, attracting a well-to-do audience of acolytes who revere SoulCycle's heady blend of heart-pumping cardio, room-shaking music, and charismatic instructors. Feel-good messaging, too--this is a brand that has proudly cultivated what it calls "a culture of inspiration."

While the majority of SoulCycle's ten studios are located in the greater New York City area (Los Angeles is home to two other locations), the company will soon bring its culture of inspiration to new markets nationwide thanks to a recent strategic investment from Equinox, the luxury fitness behemoth that operates 61 health clubs across the country. With Equinox's experience and resources to draw on, Rice and Cutler hope to transform their successful small business into a major player in the space.

The duo founded SoulCycle in the spring of 2006 inside a defunct dance studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan after failing to find a fitness class that struck the right balance between perspiration and inspiration. As Rice recalls, from the very beginning they faced the challenge of marketing a product that was inherently experiential. They could try to describe SoulCycle's personalized customer service, its thoughtful branding, and the high that its customers felt while pedaling furiously in a crowded, candlelit room. But at the end of the day, it was no substitute for trying a class first-hand.

This realization informed Rice and Cutler's decision the following summer to scrap their plans to advertise SoulCycle classes in Hamptons magazine, and instead use the funds to open a pop-up studio in a Bridgehampton barn. It was an important tipping point for the company; demand skyrocketed and the classes soon became so popular that a first-come, first-served online reservations system had to be developed.

Watch Cutler and Rice discuss the future of their business: