In February 2010, Zukerman opened her own New York City indoor-cycling studio, Flywheel Sports (the master-trainer spot at SoulCycle is now filled by Rice’s teacher from L.A., Janet Fitzgerald), prompting media speculation about bad blood between the brands. News stories mentioned defections from SoulCycle, quoting regulars as saying, “Team Flywheel and team SoulCycle—it’s like team Angelina and team Jennifer.” Rice denies any tension between the two clubs; Zukerman declined to comment. One year later, in February 2011, a SoulCycle location opened just three blocks from Flywheel’s flagship. Exercise blogs and consumer-rating websites like Yelp have been packed with comments championing one studio or the other.
But now Rice and Cutler are both focused on more distant horizons: Los Angeles, London and beyond, courtesy of the Equinox deal. While the press spoke of the partnership as an “acquisition” of SoulCycle by Equinox, for a reputed $15 million to $25 million, Rice and Cutler have retained substantial ownership of the company. “You won’t see SoulCycle within Equinox clubs,” Rice explains. “We’ll still be a stand-alone boutique studio.” The partnership will lead to the opening of 10 to 12 new SoulCycle studios around the country in the next year alone. “Knowing Julie as I do now, I’m not surprised at how successful they’ve been,” says Melanie Whelan, vice president of business development at Equinox. “Her mind works tirelessly on SoulCycle, always looking to evolve the whole platform. They’re cultivating a culture there, so we were buying into something much bigger than a studio. Basically, they punch way above their weight.”
And they keep punching. When it comes to building on the SoulCycle ethos, classes are just the beginning. In 2009, Rice and Cutler started a line of fresh-pressed juices, SoulCooler. In 2010 they launched their own in-studio workout-clothing line. And in March 2011, Rice managed to fit in yet another new project: She gave birth to her second daughter, Parker.
MICHELLE STACEY’s last story for More was “Reinventing After a Family Crisis.”
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