Several longtime SoulCycle instructors have quit in recent weeks, accusing the company of using its instructors of color as marketing materials in place of a real commitment to racial justice. Soeuraya Wilson, a SoulCycle instructor for six years and one of the faces of its at-home workout program, wrote in a July 15 Instagram post, “In these times I can no longer allow my image to be used by a company that performs its activism when it is convenient for their bottom line or their seasonal campaign...My company and its leadership who I once respected have failed to lead.”
SoulCycle made a name for itself in part on the enthusiasm of its instructors during its trademark spin classes, sometimes flying well-known instructors to popular studios on special occasions. Tina Jackson and Mary Kate Hurlbutt, also longtime instructors, made similar posts. Sunder Reddy, interim SoulCycle CEO, wrote in a statement that the majority of the company’s studios across the country have closed but that it had launched a digital effort to uplift racial justice causes. Reddy said, “Our focus has, and always will be, about building a community centered on our values, not politics...Given that we have a small number of studios open, and we continue to preserve the health and welfare of our employees, our ability to make meaningful financial contributions to external organizations is limited today.” Stephen Ross, the chairman of the Related Companies, which owns majority stakes in SoulCycle and Equinox, held a top-dollar fundraiser for President Donald Trump last year, outraging many customers.