The Whelan wheels are no longer spinning on their stationary bike, it seems! Melanie Whelan, who has been with SoulCycle for about eight years, announced her resignation yesterday, and it was effective immediately—I guess she didn’t want to burn off her Thanksgiving turkey at the studio Friday. She not only is leaving her position as CEO, but also is vacating her role as the director of the company’s board. She confirmed this news on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
After eight amazing years with SoulCycle, this week marks the end of an incredible chapter as I move on to my next adventure. I can’t even begin to describe my gratitude for the opportunity to build and lead the SoulCycle team and brand. Having started with SoulCycle when we had only seven studios and a huge dream – and with my toddlers 👆🏻along with me for the ride – I couldn’t be more proud of what this team has accomplished together. The magic of SoulCycle will always be in those dark studios. The love, the passion, the energy and the spirit of what we do is more important today than ever before. I will see you on a bike … soon. Soul People truly are the Best People.
This allegedly was a mutual agreement, with both sides thinking it was time for a change in SoulCycle leadership. But, as any fan of the Real Housewives knows, no one just “mutually decides to leave” on great terms and they ride off separately into their own sunsets. This is especially an interesting time for her to resign because it’s coming off of the heels of one of SoulCycle’s more tumultuous years. In case you forgot (because I think a lot of people actually did), there was a large conversation sparked in late-Summer when Stephen Ross, who is the majority owner of The Related Companies—which is the parent company of Equinox and SoulCycle—held a fundraiser to raise major cash for Donald Trump. It’s not surprising that a good chunk of people who like to run to a “Lizzo vs. Beyoncé” spin class were not thrilled with this news, which led to a boycott.
Besides social opinion, SoulCycle also faced competition in a way it potentially never expected this year. That’s right, the call came from inside the house—in the form of Peloton, which basically lets anyone with an apartment bigger than a walk-in closet to have their own spin studio in their living room. With premiere classes available 24/7, Peloton is not only extremely convenient for a user, but also has the same level of chicness that you used to get from saying you were going to a Soul class. Additionally, SoulCycle also tried to file for an IPO (initial public offering) which would have allowed them to sell a portion of the business to public investors. Companies usually do this in efforts to raise money, with Soul hoping to pay off debts and also open additional studios. This started in June 2015, and was the major project that Melanie Whelan was overseeing, until it ended in 2018 due to “market conditions.” Ah, market conditions, the same reason all of my relationships from dating apps end. It should be noted that Peloton was able to go public, which must have stung a little… and by a little, I mean a lot.
This news has also been met with some confusion online, mainly due to the fact that there has been no explanation from SoulCycle’s team about why this shake-up is happening. If we’ve learned anything from this company from its past year, it’s that they will just try to wipe off this story with a sweaty towel, light a few candles, and pray the media attention just goes away. In the meantime, Sunday Reddy, the chief financial officer, will be stepping in as the interim CEO until a replacement is found, with Whelan advising the transition. And I mean, since SoulCycle is basically a cult, I’m sure they’ll find someone from Herbalife or NXIVM to take it over in no time.
Images: melanieanya / Instagram